When many people think of “sushi,” they immediately think “raw fish.” If you think you can bait a hook and catch wild sushi, though, you’re fishing in the wrong stream.

The term for raw fish is “sashimi,” and it’s not the same thing as sushi. In fact, sushi doesn’t necessarily have to contain any fish at all!

The key ingredient of sushi is sticky rice seasoned with sweet rice wine vinegar. To make sushi, chefs wrap sticky rice with seaweed (called “nori“) and shape it into artful packages.

Sushi often includes fish (raw or cooked), as well as other types of seafood, vegetables and flavorings. There are hundreds of different kinds of sushi.

Most people who enjoy sushi know that it’s considered a Japanese delicacy. Experts believe it actually was invented in China, though.

As far back as the 4th century B.C., sushi began as a way to preserve raw fish. The ancient Chinese would flatten raw fish, place it in salt, ferment it with rice and then weigh it down with stones.

The preserved fish could then be kept for several months to several years. When it was eaten, the rice would be thrown away.

Eventually, this preservation technique made its way to Japan. The Japanese began to eat the rice casing along with the preserved fish, and the modern form of sushi was born!

The Japanese word “sushi” originally meant “sour” or “vinegary” and later came to mean “pickled fish.” Today, it means “with rice.”

Sushi is usually served with salty-tasting soy sauce and wasabi, which is a spicy green Japanese horseradish sauce. Sushi is very nutritious. An average serving has about 300 to 450 calories.

Rice provides carbohydrates, seaweed contains iodine, fish has proteins and omega-3 fatty acids, and vegetables supply vitamins — all important nutrients for a healthy diet.


26 Join the Discussion

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    • There are LOTS of different types of sushi, Stella! There are some types that just have vegetables (no fish). There are even types of sushi rolls that have battered and fried chicken, shrimp or vegetables in them. They are called “tempura” sushi rolls. Why don’t you ask your mom if you can have a family sushi-making night? It’s so much fun to make sticky rice and roll your own sushi! That way, everyone gets to decide what they want to put into their own sushi rolls…YUM! :-)

    • Yum! Avocado rolls sound delicious, Lily! Thank you for sharing your favorite sushi with everyone in Wonderopolis today! :-)

  1. My favorite is the crunchy sushi roll and also the spicy salmon sushi roll! Those two sushi rolls are my favorite! I just had Sushi last week, and it was delicious!

    • There are so many different types of sushi to try, we’re sure you’ll find at least one type you like, KK! Thanks for letting us know what you think about sushi! :-)

      • Hi, DeRpY-chan! You’re right, in that it is always good to try new foods. However, sometimes people dislike the smell or look of the food and that makes them not like it before even trying it and that’s okay! Everyone is different! Thanks for commenting! :)

    • Mmmmm! Some sushi for lunch sounds really yummy right now, Nicholas! Thanks for checking out this Wonder and for letting us know you learned some new things! Your friends are super lucky to have a friend like you to make sushi to share with them! :-)

    • We think it would be FUN to learn a dance from another culture, Eric! Thanks for sharing your personal connection to this Wonder…we bet you will do an AWESOME job on Friday! :-)

    • Julie,

      We think California rolls are delicious, too! We WONDER what other kinds of sushi you have tried? :-)

    • HOORAY for California rolls we say, Gooey! We are SUPER pumped that you have tried sushi– we Wonder if you will continue to try different kinds of rolls? Thanks for commenting today– have a WONDERful day, Wonder Friend! :)

  2. I was looking through the wonders and they get better and better everyday.
    It was cool how sushi came to be. I LOVE sushi. My favorite kinds are…
    Unagi (eel)
    Shrimp tempura
    Dragon Roll

    • Hey there, Wonder Friend Sam! We are so excited that you’ve been WONDERing with us– and you made an awesome connection, too! HOORAY for you! We are getting hungry just thinking about that delicious sushi line up! YUM! We love that you’ve tried foods of all kinds and we’re so very glad you shared your comment! You rock, Sam! :)

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Have you ever wondered…

  • Can you fish for sushi?
  • What is the main ingredient of sushi?
  • Where was sushi invented?

Wonder Gallery

sushi_shutterstock_13956688Vimeo Video

Try It Out

Ready to treat your taste buds to a wild seafood adventure? Grab a friend or family member, and head to the store.

But before getting started, you may need a few special tools.You can use your fingers or a rice paddle to handle the sticky rice, and people who make sushi often prepare it on a bamboo rolling mat.

You may want to purchase one, as well as a few other supplies, to help make one or more of these fabulous sushi recipes in your very own kitchen:

When you’re finished, take some pictures of your creations. Isn’t it neat how making sushi is like creating an edible work of art?

Email us a picture of your homemade sushi. We can’t wait to see what you come up with! You can also post comments on Facebook and Twitter!


Still Wondering

Check out National Geographic Xpeditions’ Spice World lesson to create a map showing the origins of the spices and herbs that help flavor your favorite dish.


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