The Mark of Beauty:Edomae sushi

NHK Educational

Point 1: The Innovations behind a Sensual Taste Experience
Sushi is one of Japan’s best known culinary traditions. Sushi originally referred to the vinegared rice that is usually combined with raw seafood, vegetables, or other foods. Before the age of refrigerators and modern transport, sushi was a smart preservation method that served to keep foods from spoiling. 
This works depicts a child reaching out for sushi in Matsugasushi, the most renowned and luxurious sushi shop in Edo (the former name for Tokyo). Hand-formed nigiri zushi (sushi) was developed in the early 19th century around the Bunsei era (1818–1830). The sushi made by Sakaiya Matsugoro, whose shop is depicted in this image, was very popular at the time.
Nigiri zushi (sushi) incorporated seafood caught from the oceans around Edo, and was thus called Edomae (“Edo-style”). It could be made on demand for customers at food stands, which served the needs of those who wanted to eat quickly, aligning perfectly with the mentality of Edoites.
A special tuna preparation called zuke is indispensable to Edomae sushi. Hot water is poured on the raw fish, which is then marinated in soy sauce, removed, and left to marinate until it becomes an attractive ruby color.
Point 2: The Importance of Shari (Sushi Rice)
There are two types of shari, the name for sushi rice, in Edomae sushi. Shiro shari (“white vinegared rice”) is made from clear rice vinegar, while aka shari, (“red vinegared rice”) is made from red vinegar, a sweeter vinegar made from sake lees. These two varieties of shari form the fundamental flavor of sushi.
Point 3:The Brushing of Nikiri and Tsume (Sauces)
A brushing of nikiri sauce provides the finishing touch to Edomae sushi. Nikiri sauce—made from soy sauce, sake, and mirin—covers the sushi toppings, giving them a more glossy sheen.
Squid (ika) or conger eel (anago) are usually coated with a sweeter, thicker glaze called tsume.
Tsume is a reduction sauce made with the broth used to simmer squid and conger eel or other seafood. At first it has almost no viscosity, but after reduction it becomes a gleaming thick sauce like honey. The sauce gets its name for the Japanese word for reduction, nitsume.
Tsume is traditionally made by reducing previously made broth. Many sushi shops continuously add freshly made sauce into their existing tsume for richer flavor. Some shops have built continuously on the same sauce since their founding.
The Mark of Beauty : NHK Educational
Credits: Story

Sushi Sho
Tokyo Metropolitan Library Special Archives
Kanagawa Prefectural Museum of History Archives

Photography by Tadayuki Minamoto

Music by Ryu (Ryu Matsuyama)

Supervised by
Maezaki Shinya, Associate Professor, Kyoto Women's University
M. Rinne, Kyoto National Museum

Produced by NHK Educational Corporation


Credits: All media
The story featured may in some cases have been created by an independent third party and may not always represent the views of the institutions, listed below, who have supplied the content.
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