Hanaya Yohei

Chef

1799 – 1858

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Who was Hanaya Yohei?

Hanaya Yohei is generally credited as the inventor of today's Tokyo-style nigiri sushi at the end of Japan's Edo period.

Sushi at his time was made from freshly captured fish from the nearby Tokyo Bay. This ruled out many of today's popular materials such as salmon roe. Even though Tokyo is a coastal city, food safety was still a concern before the invention of refrigeration. To prevent spoilage, Hanaya either slightly cooked or marinated the fish in soy sauce or vinegar. It was quite reasonable for people to dislike the fatty belly meat of tuna because it would decompose very quickly. Hanaya marinated the lean red meat in soy sauce. Then he served the sliced fish on vinegared rice balls that are large by today's standard. His sushi was totally different from today's "raw fish" stereotype.

Hanaya's cookery was a departure from Japanese eating habits of the time. In the early years, a chef only made sushi part-time. Then, slowly, inexpensive sushi stands emerged. After the government outlawed these questionable food stands, sushi restaurants became mainstream. Today, relatively inexpensive conveyor belt sushi has become popular.

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Born
1799
Nationality
  • Japan
Profession
Died
1858

Submitted
on July 23, 2013

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