Kitchen Myths

Facts and fiction about food and cooking, by Peter Aitken

Sushi means raw fish

Many people think that “sushi” is synonymous with raw fish. Not so – the term actually refers to the vinegared rice. This is made by dissolving sugar in vinegar (usually rice vinegar) and tossing with the hot, just-cooked rice. Sushi therefore refers to vinegared rice served with other ingredients which may or may not include fish (which in turn may be raw or cooked). The vinegaredĀ rice itself is referred to as shari. Raw fish served by itself without the rice is called sashimi.


7 responses to “Sushi means raw fish

  1. Tom April 6, 2011 at 4:01 pm

    Great site! Just a word on “sushi” … it can mean the rice, but it can also mean the event/place (“going for/to sushi”) or the meal (“I’m having sushi for lunch”). The rice in its full name is “sushi meshi”.

    Here’s another sushi myth for you: The fish is raw. In fact, the FDA does not allow that fish be pulled out our waters and sliced for sushi. Instead, the fish is broken down and pieces are “cooked” by freezing them to kill any parasites and then slowly thawed back to the “raw” state. This “cooking” method makes the fish safe to eat in its raw state.

    • E January 14, 2013 at 8:55 am

      You are completely WRONG!!!! The FDA only gives a recommendation. The rule is NOT enforced. Ask all of the best “SUSHI” fish suppliers and they will tell you that most of it that is considered high grade IS NOT Frozen!!! I had to find this FACT out the hard way as I tried to order the fish myself from the best retailers. Go ahead and find out the TRUTH yourself.

  2. Kevin Liu November 27, 2011 at 4:03 pm

    In fact, “sushi” means “salted” or “sour-tasting” and today refers more to the rice than the fish. That’s because sushi began as a piece of salted, fermented (soured), and pressed fish known today as narezushi. It made its way from Southeast Asia (where fermented fish sauce is popular, hmmm?) up to Japan. Today, since the fermented fish has been replaced with fresh material, the rice that comes with all sushi is flavored with vinegar and sugar.

    Sushi is a fascinating topic, not least of which because it is a relatively new development in haute cuisine. Did you know that up until the late twentieth, even the Japanese considered the fatty belly of Tuna (called Toro) unfit to eat and routinely sold it as cat food? It’s now one of the most expensive cuts of sushi.

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