The history of fusion sushi is really the story of the California roll. Without this famous concoction, many of the rolls at our Bothell Japanese restaurant would never have existed. This was a pioneer of American-style sushi, launching the popularity of the cuisine not only throughout the US but also throughout the rest of the world.
Though the facts have been somewhat obscured by history, the invention of the California roll is often attributed to a chef by the name of Ichiro Mashita. He came up with this particular combination of imitation crab and avocado back in the early 1970’s as a way to encourage Americans to try sushi. People who may otherwise have been leery of eating raw fish were better able to embrace the imitation crab, while the texture of the avocado helped to simulate the feel of true sushi. Americans were therefore able to ease into this strange new dish, and sushi began to catch fire across the country.
What makes the invention of the California roll significant is that it represented several firsts for the sushi world. It opened the door for the use of foreign ingredients, like the avocado. It introduced the idea of making a sushi roll with more than one main ingredient. It also spearheaded the rise of the “inside-out” sushi roll, with the nori inside the rice instead of outside. In this way was the phenomenon known as “American-style” sushi born, and the latest generation of sushi has risen throughout the globe.