“Maki” Time To Learn The History Of These Sushi Names

If you’ve been to a Japanese restaurant, especially in the US, there are some things you’ve come to expect to find: miso soup and the taste of tongue-tingling wasabi and hot sake and lots of rice, the same amount of fish, and other well-prepared portions that are bite-sized. Did you know you don’t really need fish (uncooked or not) to make the food that you’re eating sushi? These little pieces of rice with egg-like bits or even spam securing them by a band of seaweed? Yup, still sushi!

Let’s have a bite of history and get to the root of some commonly used sushi terms and sources!

How do you define sushi?

Let’s get started with the primary reason we’re here to talk about sushi! When most Westerners think about sushi, it brings to mind images of raw fish, as well as other toppings that are neatly placed within small pieces of rice. Technically speaking, the sushi and the toppings can be omitted completely because the word “sushi” specifically is a reference to the type of rice that is used. Sushi is boiled rice that has been cold, which is then soaked in rice vinegar, which gives it a slightly sour taste. Sushi was initially developed to preserve raw fish by wrapping the salted fish with this special fermented rice for some weeks or months.

Did you even …?

Many people in the US may think of sushi as a cuisine that is fundamentally Japanese. The basis of the process of making sushi can be traced back to Southeast Asia between the fifth and third centuries BCE. One of the earliest instances of the idea of sushi printed in print is found in a fourth-century Chinese dictionary that describes the salted fish being placed into rice that was cooked in order for a process of fermentation. It’s believed that sushi was introduced to Japan in the 8th century. Sushi Sushi, as we speak of it in English, was first recorded between 1895 and 1900, from its Japanese origins from “sour, sour rice.”

What is Wasabi?

If you’ve ever tried wasabi-based paste, you’re probably experiencing hair growth on your scalp at the moment! It is a plant belonging to the family of Brassicaceae, which includes mustard as well as horseradish; wasabi is an evergreen root. Wasabi seeds are pulverized into a paste, which is widely used as a condiment with sushi, sashimi, and other meals that contain raw fish. Wasabi has been utilized as a medicinal ingredient since at least as early as Japan’s Nara time (710-793 CE).

Daikon is what?

This iconic white radish is featured in popular media, such as a stunning rotund character from the animated film Spirited Away (2001). The etymological roots of the word originate from Middle Chinese; the modern term daikon [dahy-kuhn, -kon] is composed of the Japanese prefix meaning “large” (dai-) as well as the word “root” (-kon). They are very crunchy and mainly composed of water. Daikon roshi (grated daikon) is commonly utilized as a garnish, often mixed into sauces, such as ponzu. There are many kinds of Japanese pickles, also made using daikon’s roots. Daikon is used in many dishes across Asia inc, including China, Vietnam, the Philippines, India, and Pakistan.


Mirin (pronounced mee-reen) is a Japanese cooking wine that is made of rice. The cooking methods and uses of Mirin can vary greatly based on region, but you’re most likely to find it in teriyaki sauces or used as a primary ingredient in sushi. Mirin tends to be more sweet as compared to sake and has an alcohol content that is lower (about 14 percent in Mirin and 20 percent in sake). Mirin is considered to be one of the main condiments used in Japanese cooking. Mirin is prepared by mixing steamed glutinous as well as cultured rice (called Koji) along with alcohol-based rice liquor that is distilled. The mixture can ferment from two months to a few years. The longer mirin ages and ages, the darker it is and the more intense its flavor. Mirin was first documented in English between 1870 and 1975. The etymological root of the Japanese word is most likely to have originated from Middle Chinese, with the modern parts of the word broken apart into mi “taste, flavor” and “rin” “to remove astringency.”

Miso is what?

Miso is usually regarded as the main ingredient in soups named the same. A fermented flavoring made of soybean paste, usually using barley or rice, Miso is a popular ingredient for flavoring hashes as well as sauces. In the majority of American-based Japanese eateries, miso soup can be served before the main course consisting of sushi or sashimi is served. The miso soup is designed to be consumed after the meal to ease stomach discomfort.

As with sushi, Miso is believed to have come into the Japanese archipelago by China, which could have coincided with the spreading of Buddhism. Around 800 CE, The modern term for Miso was first mentioned within the Nihon Sandai Jitsuroku. This epoch-making Japanese history book changed Miso’s original Chinese character with one that would later be specifically used to refer to Japanese Miso. Different kinds of Miso (either made from refined rice or with barley or other grains) could be used to differentiate between classes of the ruling and subordinate classes during feudal Japan. It was first documented in 1720-30. miso was first recorded in 1720-30. mee-soh is a synonym for Miso, which is the Korean term for “soybean malt.”

What is Nigiri?

We are here! It’s probably what you had in mind when you first heard the term sushi. Nigiri Nigiri”ni” – geer-is the small rice block with a slice of raw fish on it. The word itself originated from an earlier form, nigirizushi, or, literally, “hand-pressed sushi, rolled sushi.” It refers to the method used through which the dish was made. The Japanese word Nigiru is “to grip, grasp, or to roll with one’s hands,” an unmolded chunk of rice. In this instance, the rice lump that is hand-molded can be described as made of sushi ( -sushi) rice.

The development of nigirizushi can be attributable to Hanaya Yohei, who opened his first sushi shop in 1824 along the street of Japan’s capital city, Edo. Edo (later later to become named Tokyo). The location was easy to access, Tokyo Bay; Yohei was capable of serving his sushi with fish that, although slightly cooked or marinated, did not need to be salted or stored for the duration.

Is that what it is?

If you’ve eaten sushi, you’ve probably noticed the thin dark strip that holds the fish on the rice, the size of a seat belt, or the dark wrap around the big, sliced pieces of sushi roll. It’s Nori! Nori is a type of seaweed that has a mildly sweet, salty flavor, typically dried, and is used in Japanese food, mostly to wrap sushi. Although the exact date of the first use of nori is not known, it was documented from the beginning of 702 CE in the act of taxation. The cultivation of nori into sheets we find in the present day began in the 17th century. Edo period.

The first time it was recorded in English between 1890 and 1895; nori is a compound Japanese word made from “no” (the term that combines “water”) and the phrase ri (“lichen, and moss”) to create “edible seaweed.”

What is the word “ponzu?

Serve it on any sushi roll, and you will be in for a feast! Ponzu is a condiment that is made of sake, citrus juice, sugar, soy sauce, along with red pepper. The term “ponzu” is a literal reference to the orange juice that is squeezed out of Japanese citrus fruits such as sour or daidai (typically yuzu or Daiya) and has a different root: it is the Dutch word “pons.” Pons is “punch,” as in the refreshing drink consumed at events. The character that represents vinegar is ( -su) because the sauce was taking acidic notes. It’s not unreasonable that ponzu was designed to possess a sweet, tangy taste. As with other spices, the components of the ponzu you choose to use may include regional variations. In some instances, the ponzu may be less sweet and possess an atypical umami taste. It can be used as a marinade sauce, dip sauce, and salad dressing.

What is maki sushi?

Do you remember the name Mr. Hanaya Yohei and his sushi restaurant? It was the late 19th century when the popularity of nigirizushi as street food was booming. To eat the food fast and easily, nigirizushi had to be transformed from a block of rice to a cylinder of rice that was wrapped in nori. The new makizushi was then filled with other ingredients in the middle, like fish, vegetables, and other condiments like wasabi. Maki’s names vary in terms of components and design. Maki is then typically cut into small, bite-sized pieces. Modern-day Japanese maki are quite simple, with sushi rice as the main ingredient. That includes vegetables and fish with nori covering the exterior; still, many specialty makes from all over the globe have toppings and fillings ranging from roe and mayonnaise to avocado and asparagus.

What’s what is a California roll?

The particular maki is noteworthy because it was developed outside Japan, and the originator is the subject of dispute. California-based chefs Ken Seusa and Ichiro Mashita are among the most commonly credited creators of the California sushi roll. It is distinguished by the California avocado addition along with other ingredients, like crabmeat and cucumber or imitation crabmeat. Wrapped in nori before being rolled into sushi.

As with other rolls, California rolls are usually cut into rectangular blocks. But what is unique from the California roll of that time was the inclusion of the nori (the seaweed) within the maki instead of wrapping the exterior part of the roll. This was a strategy to increase the appeal of the registration for Anglo-American customers who would typically throw out any wrap of nori. The creation of the California roll is believed to have occurred between the mid-1960s and the 1970s, and in both cases, it contributed to the demand for sushi across the US.

Is Gunkanmaki a real thing?

It’s a less well-known term, but the odds are that most people who have dined at a sushi place have had a taste of gunkanmaki. It’s a kind of nigiri wrapped in nori and is flat and has the top (where you’ll usually find the ingredients wrapped in nori), which is generally covered with the roe or shredded daikon or oysters. When it’s placed on a white, oblong plate, it’s easy to notice how the small dark cylinders of gunkanmaki look like their name: a battleship. Gunkanmaki became popular in the sushi world shortly after Japan’s involvement during World War II, and the idea behind it is believed to have originated from the Ginza Kyubey restaurant in 1941.

What is Teki?

Suppose you’re familiar with the definition of Karate (literally, “empty hand”) and you’re familiar with the meaning. In that case, you may already have an idea as to what the word temaki [the-mah-kee means, especially since we’ve discovered that it makes the name of the majority of sushi rolls. Did you get the idea of “hand roll”? You’re right! Similar to a traditional Japanese maki, a temaki is composed of fish and vegetables packed into sushi rice whi, which is then covered in a delicious salty nori sheet. The unique thing about the temaki the difference is that it is wrapped into a cone. This helps to eat this roll by eating it with hands. Bon appe–wait. Correction: itadakimasu!

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