As sushi has gained worldwide popularity, styles of the food are branching off. Many westernized sushi forms have emerged that are rarely found in Japan.
Westernized Sushi: California Roll
One of the first Westernized versions of sushi was the California roll. Many credit Ichiro Mashita with inventing this sushi style in the ’70s, when he was the sushi chef at Tokyo Kaikan, one of the first sushi bars in Los Angeles.
These uramaki, or inside-out, sushi rolls were made with avocado instead of fatty tuna, which wasn’t available to Mashita. The oily texture of avocados proved to be a perfect replacement for tuna, without sacrificing any of the healthy benefits.
California rolls are categorized by rice on the outside of the nori seaweed wrap and sesame seeds flavoring the rice. This style of sushi, despite its name, is popular all over America.
Types of Sushi Popular in the West
In the West, other regions have developed particular takes on the Japanese style of sushi.
Some of the most common fusions and variations, aside from the California roll, include:
• Hawaiian rolls: Popular in Hawaii, this roll usually contains tuna, grilled egg and cured white fish. Also included is a traditional Hawaiian red and green shrimp powder.
• Philadelphia rolls: This sushi style takes Philadelphia’s beloved cream cheese and blends it with smoked or raw salmon, cucumber and sushi rice. Sushi enthusiasts often call this dish the “Philly roll.”
• Seattle rolls: Similar to the California and Philadelphia rolls, this Seattle favorite usually contains cucumbers, avocados and raw salmon. The Pacific Northwest and particularly Seattle has a large Asian-American population, while the cultural influences are evident in cuisine throughout the city.
Western Ways of Eating Sushi
Although most people try to enjoy sushi with chopsticks, westernized eating habits have formed, such as using hands or a fork.
In Japan, wasabi is typically only served with sashimi, while pickled ginger is only served with sushi. In comparison, western sushi restaurants offer both wasabi and ginger on each plate.
The habit of stirring wasabi into soy sauce started in the west. Traditional sushi chefs in Japan include the wasabi inside each roll as part of the preparation.
Qualified sushi professionals have spent years learning how to use nori and utilize other tastes properly.