Sushi and sashimi are by now a global sensation and have become perhaps the best known of Japanese foods—but they are also the most widely misunderstood. Oishii: The History of Sushi reveals that sushi began as a fermented food with a sour taste, used as a means to preserve fish. This book, the first history of sushi in English, traces sushi’s development from China to Japan and then internationally, and from street food to high-class cuisine. Included are two dozen historical and original recipes that show the diversity of sushi and how to prepare it. Written by an expert on Japanese food history, Oishii is a must read for understanding sushi’s past, its variety and sustainability, and how it became one of the world’s greatest anonymous cuisines.
About the Author
Eric C. Rath is professor of premodern Japanese history at the University of Kansas. He is the author of Food and Fantasy in Early Modern Japan.
"An enticing title for one of the first substantial books written in English on the history of sushi. . . . Oishii is extensively and well researched, using numerous sources from both historical and current data, and brims with fascinating and often amusing anecdotes told in a nonacademic, light writing style. If you crave the lesser-known, intriguing details of sushi's history, then this is a book that will feed your hungry mind." — NIKKEI Asia
"Occupying a modest middle ground between cookbook and essay collection Rath's writing is light, unhampered by the weight of academia. He interjects personal asides, recalling tastes and experiences that add sparkle to his chronology of sushi. Ultimately, however, it's the lesser-known sushi knowledge that singles out Oishii as a must-own for hungry minds and sushi fanatics alike." — Japan Times
"Those who wish to explore beyond the tuna-sake-avocado comfort zone and find out more about sushi should read Rath. The American food historian specializes in Japanese food culture and with Oishii has presented a vivid history of sushi." — Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung
"Informative, lovingly illustrated. . . . Starting with the medieval period and moving into the contemporary era, this comprehensive and very readable volume is best accompanied with a plate of sushi (and perhaps some sake) nearby. . . . Oishii means ‘delicious,’ and this describes the book from both a culinary and a visual perspective. The book is dotted with recipes, from the simple Five Lord’s Soup (‘Finely dice pickled fish and meat on a cutting board. Add water and boil. Use this as the basis for soup stock.’) to minnow sushi—for those with access to minnows, it’s ready to eat in one day—and how to select the right mackerel to avoid dried-out flesh. Complementing these are more contemporary recipes for home cooks, archival photographs and woodblock prints, and mouthwatering closeups of prepared sushi, making Oishii an enlightening treat for the senses." — Digestible Bits and Bites
“Without a doubt the most definitive book I have ever read on what is now one of the world’s most popular foods. Rath’s Oishii is not only well-written and packed with fascinating, delicious information, but easy to read as well. It belongs on the bookshelf of any lover of good food.” — Ken Hom, OBE, author, chef, and TV presenter
“Deploying gorgeous visual material and exquisite detail from over a millennia of Chinese and Japanese written sources, Rath historicizes, regionalizes, and denationalizes the contested story of the birth and transformation of various kinds of sushi. He also shows how this modest dish went global as it acquired substantial cultural capital in the late twentieth century. A lucid and beautifully produced book.” — Krishnendu Ray, chair, Department of Nutrition and Food Studies, NYU Steinhardt
"Oishii means 'delicious' in Japanese, and this impressive book both nourishes and delights. Through prodigious research and recipes, Oishii carries us along sushi’s path from fermented fish to fresh. Rath’s narrative is revelatory as he traces sushi’s history in relation to culinary methodologies, nationalism, wartime rationing, global innovations, and more." — Darra Goldstein, founding editor of "Gastronomica" and author of "Beyond the North Wind"
"Rath’s smart, historically riveting, contemporarily grounded deconstruction of sushi kept me turning each page in anticipation of yet another fascinating fact on one of my most deeply loved foods. For chefs and food geeks, Oishii reveals a number of sushi methods heretofore not found in English and thus serves as an extremely valuable contribution to the landscape of Japanese food writing." — Nancy Singleton Hachisu, author of "Japan: The Cookbook"
"While Rath’s text is eminently accessible to the food studies beginner, it offers bold insights for the Japanese culinary expert as well. Throughout the text, Rath delights in challenging or complicating the received understandings of sushi’s definitions, origins, and developments." — The Journal of Japanese Studies