If you live in America, it’s a safe bet you’ve heard good things about sushi, and yet the food is a traditional Japanese one. How did it find its way to us and, more importantly, how does it continue being such a big part of our culture?
There are several reasons for sushi’s prevalence in our country: it tastes good, is reasonably healthy and can’t be called difficult to make. But is it something more than these perks – do we simply want to eat something that feels exotic?
What sushi really is
When most Americans think of sushi, they envision slices and chunks of raw fish in between dressings that can, at times, be odd-looking. While this isn’t entirely untrue, most are surprised to learn that sushi, by definition, doesn’t need to include fish at all.
Instead, the focus is on the rice that’s served with the fish – the same rice we view as little more than an appetizer. The addition of fish is optional and serves to either broaden the palette of tastes or give the person a greater sense of fullness.
Of course, in American culture, sushi is now synonymous with raw or low-cooked fish and you’ll be hard-pressed to find a restaurant that offers sushi without fish or another form of meat. Likewise, you might be disappointed to realize that sushi’s original iteration is quite far from what is served today – while sushi has been around for more than a millennia, the colorful vegetables and arrangements were only added much later on.
Is sushi really healthy?
Now you know what sushi consists of: some fish coupled with rice and different sorts of vegetables. But is it really healthy to eat? Sure, the ingredients sound alright, but how can you what sushi really does to your body?
Well, the answer to whether sushi is healthy or not depends entirely on how it is prepared. Indeed, the basis for sushi – fresh fish, rice, vegetables – is what most would readily call healthy unless you’re sporting some allergies.
Yet there are a million ways to prepare sushi: some are more traditional and focus on minimalism while others are meant to dazzle the eater with a colorful scheme. No matter the specific way of preparation, how healthy the final product is will depend on what the chef or cook does.
Sushi’s base ingredients aren’t unhealthy, but many of the recent additions to the dish are: from greasy and oily sauces to the inclusion of fatty cheeses, there’s lots of things you can do to a sushi in order to make it taste better while falling harder on your stomach.
Most restaurant owners are far less concerned with the healthiness of their food than they are with people actually eating it – therefore, few will shy away from adding unhealthy options to improve the taste of their sushi.
Truthfully, the question of whether the sushi you eat is healthy should be asked of you: where are you eating it? If your favorite restaurant or seafood bar serves sushi that is fast-food esque in appearance or taste, you can simply look elsewhere for healthier methods of preparation instead of giving up on this massively-popular Japanese import.