From macrons to donuts and more, this Japanese delicacy has become a global favorite in so many delicious ways.
There’s something theatrical about sushi. The curtains are raised as you watch a chef expertly assemble buns with raw vegetables or seafood, then roll them to perfection. And once you bite into it with tangy wasabi and rich soy sauce, the gratifying sensation begs for an encore! It’s sushi for you. Perhaps no other dish commands so much attention in one bite as this one. Born in the rice paddies of South Asia, where fermented fish was eaten with salt and rice, sushi has become a powerful symbol of culture, gaining popularity around the world, whether in restaurants and bars. dedicated sushi, on party tables and in your everyday lunch boxes. With World Sushi Day on June 18, here’s how the delicacy became such a trend.
The rise and rise of this little roll
With sushi, you get the best of three worlds: taste, texture and style! If sushi indulgence once enjoyed a status symbol, that has changed and how! Everywhere you look, you’ll find a sushi lover, thanks to more exposure, travel, cloud kitchens, and availability. Sameer Malkani, founder of FBAI (Food Bloggers Association of India) tells the reasons behind the rise of sushi. He says, “In India, for many years, sushi as a dish has always been associated with raw fish and only available in five-star hotels, hence inaccessible to many people. With the advent of cable, OTT platforms and forms of social media, exposure to international cuisines has become commonplace. More so, middle class Indians started to travel the world and try a variety of cuisines including sushi.
Sushi has begun to take an Indianized twist to suit the palates back home, just as Chinese cuisine once did. He adds, “Chefs, stand-alone restaurants and home chefs have started experimenting and introducing vegetarian sushi to suit the palate of the country’s large vegetarian population. Large chains and online retail giants have seen this consumer pull and have asked distributors and importers to stock up on sushi ingredients on the shelves, while importers have also responded to the demand for sushi and started importing nori, sushi rice, rice vinegar, etc. to answer the question. . So, here we are today, looking at the sushi phenomenon that currently exists in our country.
Sushi is also one of the most sought after dishes in restaurants. Arvin Tucker, who recently opened Chufang, at BKC, Mumbai did not hesitate to have it on the menu. He says, “When it comes to any Asian cuisine, sushi is literally the first thing that comes to mind because diners love it. We often sell more starters than main courses and it is mainly sushi, apart from lunch and dinner. Two reasons for this: Not only because people travel more and therefore more aware, but sushi is also good for your health. As people make conscious choices, sushi is appropriate as it is light and quite subtle in terms of spice levels.
Versatility meets variety here
What makes it fun is that with sushi there are so many things to try. Essentially, the Japanese version is about raw fish inside a rice roll, wrapped in nori (seaweed), but today foodies and experts are innovating with seasonings and ingredients. To Kyma BKC, a recent sushi festival, has chefs working against the clock to create new styles of sushi. Says Nikita Poojari, founder of Kyma, “We created exclusive recipes for the sushi rolls, which are unique because diners wanted sushi to be served in new ways. In addition to the spicy tuna, avocado salmon and shrimp tempura sushi rolls, the chef has also concocted vegetarian versions. If you are serving an Indian audience, you will need to create a few tweaks to satisfy the taste buds. The sushi creates an explosion of flavors in a small bite, which you don’t really experience with other dishes, so it had an amazing response.
Yazu-Pan Asian Supper Club brought things up to date with what you might call “open sushi”. Chef Vadim Shin says, “Poke, a Hawaiian dish is a version of chirashizushi, which means ‘scattered sushi’, where you pour whatever you want. But there are so many exotic combinations you can have with sushi. My favorite is an enoki tempura mushroom roll with bell pepper salsa which was recently added to our menu.
In food applications too, sushi has weight. Pinky Shah, founder of app Fudtazy, said: “Sushi gets one of the highest orders on weekends and from health conscious people who want it for lunch on weekdays. It’s an all-in-one meal with rice and vegetables that isn’t heavy to digest. People also like the Indianized version of sushi, for example with paneer toppings or with pan-fried vegetables. In addition, sushi is no longer eaten only with wasabi and soy, but with different dips such as schezwan mayonnaise or harissa sauce.
Innovate with sushi cakes and macaroons!
The next time you go to a friend’s birthday, bring a sushi cake! Weight watchers in particular love this trend because this tasty cake tastes exactly like sushi and is healthier. Dessert specialist Jayshree Biyani, a pioneer of vegetable sushi, talks about the fun trend. She says, “When I started these cakes, people couldn’t believe the concept. They would double check 2-3 times if it was a dessert or a savory cake. Today, it’s a crowd puller. People want sushi cakes for their meals and festive occasions like birthdays, anniversaries, engagements and bachelor parties. She started serving sushi rolls and cakes at house parties, which gave way to “piles of sushi” and now, a “Sushi by the Cups” monogram trend.
Macarons have also adopted the trend. Amrita Shah from Nori-The Sushi Haven, explains: “Sushi is usually available in the form of rolls, so I decided to create something unique and that’s how the idea of macarons and sushi donuts was born. The macaroons are delicately made in pretty pastel colors and often I find people asking if they are sweet, but I tell them it’s not a sweet, but a savory confection. Even sushi donuts can be just as appealing as the flavor variations are endless, which also makes them a great gift idea. People are looking to try new and different versions of sushi which totally takes them into the foodie zone. »
Request for sushi bars and grazing boards at parties
Alright, time to ditch the party salad bar! Next time you’re having a gathering, have a few sushi boards instead. A hot trend on the social circuit, these boards command attention. Manpreet Dhody leader and founder of I am healthy India, reveals more about the trend. “Even five years ago, people weren’t open to the idea of throwing parties with only sushi, but that has changed. On average, we do two or three grazing tables a day and 100% time, almost every table has sushi,” she says, adding, “Surprisingly, people don’t just want salmon sushi and shrimp sushi, they want to experiment with vegetarian combinations like mango-avocado, truffle- edamame-shitake and tofu teriyaki as well as types of dips.There is also this tendency to set up
Homemade sushi bars, where the ingredients are all placed on a table and people take their nori, add rice, toss in cereal and sakura salad and create their own fresh hand-rolled sushi.”
Looks like we’ve certainly come a long way from maki rolls and nigiri. What are you ready to try next?
Ismat Tahseen is a Mumbai-based journalist who has been writing about food, trends, culture and lifestyle for over a decade now.