04 Jul The Best Books About Sushi | Our Picks To Learn More
Even today, there are still a lot of mysteries about sushi despite its worldwide popularity. Sushi can be seen by many people in one of two ways. It can be seen as either a mysterious, mystical cooking practice hailing from wondrous Japan, or it can be a luxury food enjoyed by affluent members of society.
We are here to tell you something different. For a dish that has been around for hundreds of years (yet has only gained prominence in the last century on a global scale) sushi is as fascinating as it is delicious.
To that end, we at CharBar have compiled a list of books that we have found to be the most suitable to learn about sushi.
If you are going to look for a sushi book, don’t look for a cookbook. We are not saying that there aren’t any useful cookbooks or that cookbooks are bad in general, but they are not a good fit when you want to learn about sushi. What you need instead are books that are going to teach you actual insights with regards to principles behind the preparation and appreciation of sushi.
There are many so-called books on the market that hardly provide you with information that is worth your time. The books we have listed have been praised for the quality of the details they contain, as well as how even complex topics are presented in an understandable way.
You will have no trouble having your sushi questions answered by the books included here, from the most superficial questions to the most profound.
The Complete Book of Sushi by Hideo Dekura, Bridget Treloar and Ryuichi Joshii
Although it does contain a lot of recipes for sushi and plenty of instructions to make beautiful pieces of the dish, The Complete Book of Sushi can be treated like a guide more than anything else. Here, you will find examples of how sushi should look like, given by people who actually know what they are talking about.
This is a great book for beginners as it provides insights into the world of sushi that are easy to understand and comprehend. Everything from the simplest of nihiri to the most complicated of maki is unpacked and explained in a concise and cohesive manner. The title is not an exaggeration when it claims to be complete.
Getting this book is a great way to become more familiar with what sushi is actually supposed to be (and what it is not). If you feel like there is something you don’t understand about the dish, this is the book to get.
Oishii: The History of Sushi by Eric Rath
This book offers the first comprehensive chronicle of the history of sushi in English. It traces sushi’s development from the Far East to the rest of the world, from humble street food to high class cuisine. It also introduces all sorts of different types of sushi, some with which many people are familiar, but also unfamiliar ones from centuries past.
The author who has written extensively about Japanese food and culture explains, “In its more basic form, whether it is just a little sushi rice with a slice of fish on top, sushi is one of the most minimalistic dishes ever created.” Of course, as the book details, there’s a lot more that goes into it, and Sushi has become quite complicated and diverse.
Rath’s own introduction to the dish was because of The Breakfast Club, the 1985 teen comedy featuring a scene where Molly Ringwald’s preppy character brings a bento box to her weekend detention.
While Oishii (which translates to delicious) delves into the past, the book also keeps its sight on the future. “One of the amazing things about sushi is it’s always undergoing changes,” Rath writes. There is never a time in history when sushi was static and wasn’t undergoing some sort of evolution.
Oishii is a must-read for understanding sushi’s past, present, variety and sustainability, and how it became one of the world’s greatest dishes.
Sushi by Kazuo Nagayama edited by PIE International Books
With appearance being such a huge part of sushi, taking a look at Sushi is certainly worth doing because of all the gorgeous, high-quality photos of the dish. They are carefully made, attentively arranged, and presented in the best manner possible.
If you believe that sushi is as much a feast for the eyes as it is for the mouth and stomach (like so many sushi enthusiasts do) then you will be plenty satisfied with this book. The sushi is made by Kazuo Nagayama, a famous sushi chef who has made a name for himself in the sushi world.
It would be no exaggeration to say that this seems more an art book than it is a book about food. Then again, considering how beautiful sushi can be, is there really much of a difference at this point? If you enjoy looking at good food, this is the book for you.
The Connoisseur’s Guide to Sushi: Everything You Need to Know About Sushi Varieties and Accompaniments, Etiquette and Dining Tips and More by Dave Lowry
Sushi is something that can be consumed as regular food or a delicacy that needs to be savored. You can learn about the difference between both when you take a look at what The Connoisseur’s Guide to Sushi is all about. Now it’s worth pointing out that this can be a contentious book due to the fact that it seems to provide snobbishness.
Indeed, a lot of what you will find in this book are the personal opinions of a food enthusiast who seems to only want the best versions of everything he is going to put in his mouth. The book not only talks about sushi but also the items and beverages that accompany it, making it fairly comprehensive.
The way to approach this book is to view it as a collection of someone’s thoughts on sushi, rather than a textbook instructing you about sushi. These pages are Lowry’s perspective on what he believes is worth your attention when eating. But there is no doubt that the author is knowledgeable and some of his personal philosophies are well worth incorporating. Feel free to ignore anything that doesn’t fit your personality.
Sushi: Jiro Gastronomy by Jiro Ono, Yoshikazu Ono, and Masuhiro Yamamoto
Enjoying sushi can be a nice experience, but with the help of Sushi: Jiro Gastronomy, by renowned sushi chef Jiro Ono, it can become extraordinary. This is a guide that will basically teach you everything you need to know about sushi and how you can enjoy it to the fullest.
You will learn how to eat sushi and its accompanying items from someone who actually makes them. You will also understand the various intricacies that come with consuming sushi in a way that is comprehensible to ordinary people. But don’t worry, you won’t have to memorize a bunch of etiquettes and rules.
Sushi Shokunin: Japan’s Culinary Master by Andrea Fazzari
The James Beard Award-winning photographer and writer explores the enigma and craftsmanship behind sushi artisans in Japan. The shokunin (craftsman) label in Japan is about more than just learning a skill. It is a way of being. A constant driving purpose. It’s all tied up in the concepts of ikigai which can loosely be understood as one’s “reason for getting up in the morning.”
As you read this book you’ll marvel at the crisp photography of Fazzari, the way she can make a grain of rice look like a tiny crystal, the way she can tease out an enormous amount of expression from an otherwise solemn sushi chef. But most of all, you will feel all the reverence of the shokunin you will come to know.
When you read the stories of the 20 sushi chefs Fazzari interviewed, you will understand why it takes at least ten years to master the craft.
Fazzari reaches deep into each subject’s personal life, their childhoods, their challenges and into their restaurants.
You will learn that a lot of chefs strive for excellence, but shokunin are different. They are artisans. They have a sense of working with nature, being mindful of their predecessors, and inherently approach food differently than other chefs. “Sushi is not a cuisine,” many of them told the author. “It’s sushi. It’s emblematic of the country. It’s fish, rice, soy sauce, and wasabi. It’s the Japanese aesthetic. Sushi is identity.”
Seated at their sushi counters, Fazzari describes their artful dishes in such vivid detail you’ll feel as though you’re eating it along with her. And when she is moved to tears by one dining experience, you may find yourself welling up too. It is rare to find a master storyteller like the author. This is a must read.
Image from goodreads
The Sushi Bible: Delicious Sushi Recipes Made Quick and Easy by Akaya Watanabe
We originally said not to pick recipe books if you want to learn about sushi. But just in case you ignore the six other books in this list, this one by Akaya Watanabe offers a concise look into the world of sushi making.
Full of tips and guides about making sushi for both beginners and veterans, you don’t really need another recipe book if you are serious about making sushi. If you are not interested in the cultural and culinary significance of sushi, then this might be the book for you. It also makes a great gift.
Reading all these books (or even just one) will enhance your sushi experience. It really makes a world of difference when you actually understand the food that you are eating. You will be able to notice the smallest details in terms of the appearance, the texture, and the taste.
At CharBar we serve the best sushi on Hilton Head Island and, with your newfound knowledge, your dining experience with us will be beyond compare.