The Art of Making Sushi: The Ultimate Guide


What should you know about making sushi?

In my last blog post, I briefly mentioned sushi as I was describing the many facets of seaweed (which is far more interesting than it sounds). However, sushi is such a complex thing on its own and such a significant part of Japanese culture that it doesn’t seem right to only allot it a sentence or two in passing. Since sushi has been introduced to Western culture relatively recently, a lot of us Westerners aren’t aware of the long history or the meticulous preparation techniques that sushi possesses.

We’re mainly aware of how good sushi can taste and how it tends to be healthier than a lot of other foods that you can eat in a short amount of time. In essence, making sushi is practically a form of art. Art that you can eat is always a plus. So, for this post, we’ll be taking an in-depth look into the vast world of sushi.

Despite sushi being a large part of the Japanese culture and diet, sushi does not necessarily have completely Japanese origins. It is believed that sushi first began to be made sometime during the 2nd century C.E. in southeast Asia, specifically around the paddy fields that could be found surrounding the Mekong River (Chef Brian, 2019). It was created mainly as a way to preserve raw meat, specifically fish, for a longer period of time. Traditionally, this was done by pressing cleaned raw fish between rice and salt under a heavy rock for several weeks or even months when it would be ready to eat (“What is Sushi?”).

Making Sushi

making sushi
Photo by Frans Van Heerden from Pexels.

The fish would actually undergo a fermentation process during this time which was part of the reason it took so long until it was ready to eat. It was around this time that sushi was introduced to China and became a rather common meal, but it never contributed significantly to the Chinese culture. Sushi during this time was actually nothing like the kind of sushi we are familiar with today. The familiar, modern form of sushi is due to the Japanese.

Sushi made its way to Japan in the 8th century C.E. where it became a large part of Japanese culture and cuisine. The Japanese were the ones to change sushi from its archaic form to its modern form, creating new ways to prepare it and using a large array of different toppings. The Japanese were also the ones to update the traditional process of fermenting fish for sushi. It was only around the 15th century that it was discovered if a heavier weight was used to press the fish and rice, the length of the fermentation process would be significantly reduced and it would take about a month until it was complete. This new method of preparation was called mama-nare zushi.

It wasn’t until the 18th century that the method in which modern sushi is prepared was created. By using rice seasoned with vinegar and placing it in a wood box with fish and waiting for about two hours, the fish would then be ready to slice and serve. This kind of modern sushi came to be called nigiri sushi and it was a huge success as it allowed sushi to be made in minutes rather than hours or days (Avey, 2012).

The Details

Image result for sushi

Making sushi is not a simple task. Because of this, sushi is typically made by shokunin, also known as a master sushi chef. To become a shokunin, years of training are required—sometimes even as much as a decade—as well as great self-discipline and high standards (“What is Sushi?”).

There are many different kinds of sushi that require a variety of different ingredients, but most tend to have the same core materials: fermented rice, nori seaweed, and fish. In the Western world, we are most familiar with nori-maki sushi. “Maki” represents any kind of rolled sushi, and nori-maki sushi is made with nori seaweed and virtually any mix of vegetables and fish rolled inside. Maki is only one of five main kinds of sushi. The others include sashimi, which is fish served alone without any rice; nigiri, which is a topping served on top of rice and is usually fish or shellfish; uramaki, which is similar to maki except the rice is wrapped around the outside of the seaweed; and temaki, which is sushi rolled into the shape of a cone (Kennedy, 2017).

Some types of fish that might be used for sashimi include ahi (tuna), ika (squid), kani (crab meat), uni (sea urchin), and sake (salmon), among many others. Sushi is often served with wasabi, soy sauce, and freshly-sliced ginger to cleanse the palate. Common kinds of sushi rolls that can be found in the Western world include California rolls, Philadelphia rolls, crunch rolls, and spicy tuna rolls.

making sushi

A lot of people from around the world can agree that sushi is an appetizing and unique meal. Surprisingly, it didn’t originate in Japan many hundreds of years ago, but it was indeed updated and enhanced by the Japanese into the form we are familiar with today. This occurred by the utilization of meticulous preparation methods, a vast variety of different fish, vegetables, and toppings, and years of dedicating training to become a master sushi chef. Despite sushi being a relatively new meal in the Western diet, it nonetheless has proved itself to be an enduring and delicious meal.


Avey, Tori. (2012). “Discover the History of Sushi.” PBS. Retrieved from Brian. (2019). “What is Sushi? The Art and Tradition of Making Sushi.” 

FattyCue. Retrieved from

Kennedy, Brittany. (2017). “The Different Kinds of Sushi: Types, Names, and Photos.” Delishably. Retrieved from  

“What is Sushi?” BigBurrito. Retrieved from

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