Mystery of Salmon

Yasushi Kurita

Yasushi is a writer and editor based in Tokyo.
“MAGURO” (Tuna) has always been the most popular sushi item all over the world, but recently “Salmon” is gaining its popularity almost to strip Maguro’s No. 1 status.
Salmon is widely known in the world. It is the fish those sushi beginners can feel comfortable to try. Salmon goes well with western seasoning such as mayo, olive oil and cheese. It must be one of the reasons that Salmon is catching on these days.
Surprisingly, Salmon was never served at sushi restaurants in Japan until 1990s.
In Japan, Salmon is called “Sake.” Sake was never eaten raw because of parasites. The parasites can be contaminated if heated or frozen, but such freezing technolog y did not exist when Edomae Sushi was developed in Edo period. Since the freshness of fish is the most important in sushi, Sake was not a choice of fish back then.
Edmae Sushi chefs gave a skillful twist to the perishable shrimps and clams by simmering, broiling, or steaming them. You would think, “Oh, they should have cooked Sake as well.” But they could not use Sake anyways because it was not caught in Tokyo Bay.
Salmon started to be served as a sushi item in Japan when Atlantic salmon became available from Norway and Canada. Thanks to the emergence of popular California Roll, salmon became widely served as a staple at sushi restaurants. Nowadays, you will see high-end sushi restaurants in Japan also serve salmon.  Possibility of salmon is expanding; it is served after slightly roasted, marinated in soy sauce and dashi broth (“zuke”), wrapped with konbu seaweed to add umami (“kobujime”).
Salmon is indeed a popular sushi ingredient that was born in America.

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