Color Inspiration: Sushi

Color Inspiration: Sushi

Food seems a popular source of color inspiration here at COLOURlovers and one of my favorites types of food is sushi.

So while searching for other COLOURlovers who might also be sushi lovers, I was pleasantly surprised to be in good company after stumbling across subsomatic’s all-you-can-eat-sushi post. And, after a quick keyword: sushi search, I discovered 130+ palettes inspired by sushi!

Raw Fish?

OK, for some, the words raw and fish hardly sound appetizing but fresh raw fish is served in many ways and in many different countries and cultures. Carpaccio, ceviche, poke, tartare, gravlax are just a few.

But, sushi is not raw fish. In Japan, sliced fresh raw fish served alone is called sashimi. Also, sushi can be sushi with fish — cooked or uncooked — or without fish. What makes sushi different from sashimi is the sushi rice (rice with vinegar or shari). Since sushi is created in a variety of ways depending on the combination of ingredients, sliced fresh raw fish prepared with sushi rice is just one variation of this culinary art form.

Red Snapper sashimi
img by ulterior epicure

Fast Food Origins

While often perceived as designer food especially when dolled up and served in upscale establishments, sushi as it is known today, originates from the streets of Tokyo. It all started with one man with a simple stall:

Yohei Hanaya, was the first person to shape vinegared rice with his hands and then crown it with a slice of raw fish - prompted, it's said, by impatient customers, who couldn't be bothered to wait for the traditional pressing in a box.

(Source: The Observer Food Monthly)

Apparently his creativity became all the rage simply because of convenience. It was the finger food 1820’s Tokyo. And, even then because of the lack of refrigeration, debate continues about how much of Mr. Hanaya’s sushi fish was actually served raw.

Global Variation on a Theme

Nigiri sushi hasn’t changed much in the last couple of centuries and still remains one of the more popular types of sushi perhaps only second to maki sushi.

For those not familiar with the difference, here’s a quick rundown (with photos) of some of the more common types of sushi:

Nigiri sushi: Prepared with a small mound of sushi rice formed by the hands into an oval shape with a topping such as sliced fish. A small amount of wasabi is placed between the sushi rice and topping. Sometimes it is wrapped with thin band of nori, a type of seaweed.
Plate of Nigri Sushi
img by kenyai

Maki sushi: A rolled sushi typically cut into six or eight pieces and traditionally prepared wrapped in nori. Some variations on maki sushi include hand rolls (cone-shaped temaki), stuffed sushi (inari) and inside-out rolls (uramaki). This is also the type of sushi that has evolved the most in creative presentation and ingredient combinations.
maki sushi
img by Merlijn Hoek

Oshi sushi: This is sushi pressed in a box or mold and then cut into small pieces.
Oshi Sushi
img by muckster

Temari sushi: A more ornamental style shaped into balls with the ingredients molded into the sushi rice with a plastic wrap.
Temari Sushi
img by panduh

And, one of my favorite types of sushi is chirashi sushi: a bowl of sushi rice with a variety of fish and other toppings scattered on top of the rice.
Chirashi Sushi
img by smaku

Sushi Liberation

These types of sushi are just the basic forms from which to create the masterpieces served today. As sushi goes global and ever more popularly-palatable, the ingredients and its combinations are what sets the sushi of today apart from any other time in its history. The California Roll of the 1970s may have caused master sushi chefs to cringe, but it was the combination of ingredients — avocado, crab and mayonnaise — that quite possibly liberated sushi from Japan (and perhaps raw fish) and into the fashionable circles it travels today.

Who would have thought that the earliest sushi technique, said to be thousands of years old, would evolve to include bacon, apples, pepperoni or cream cheese? I wonder if Mr. Hanaya would be in awe of Chef Nobu Matsuhisa?

Sushi Inspired Palettes

I’m hungry as well as inspired and sushi is also about sharing. Here are some of the of 130+ palettes in the COULOURlovers' archive:
the sushi boat hi hi yummy

Sushi BulletBAM sushi


Sushitemari sushi

i 3 sushiThe Avocado Roll

fatty tuna.Ode to Hokusai

Catepillar Sushi SushiMaki

Japanese Sushiback to school

Soy Sauce*Sushi Roll

Tropical SushiTuna sushi roll

Sushi Mushirice bowl on knee

Spam SushiSushi Orange

Saba Sashimisushi train

Sushi Etiquette

And for some more fun, a not-too-serious video on sushi etiquette.

Share your sushi lovin’

Where do you like to eat sushi?

If you make sushi, share some tips!

Got inspired? Make a palette and share it!

Don’t like sushi and still like a palette? Click here and vote for one now.

And, if you haven’t joined already, become a member of subsomatic’s sushiLovers.

One Important Sushi Note

Toro and Maguro fans: The Bluefin tuna has been overfished and the population has drastically declined; nearing extinction. Because the species is a more slow-growing the rate of fishing combined with the increase in fish consumption (this includes sushi) is contributing to its rapid decline.


Title img by ulterior epicure

Showing 1 - 14 of 14 Comments
Great post...full of lots of information and I'm loving the accuracy! Have lived in Japan most of my life, sushi has been one of my favorite foods since the age of six and I even learned something new today...the origin of sushi....^-^
And the video is word of caution...please don't take it all at face value.
Ok, now I'm hungry!
here's another!


great article :)
Great article!


Kappamaki sushiTekkamaki sushiKappamaki sushisalmon maki sushiTekkamaki sushi
Thanks for the post and that great video!
Thank you for the informative article... and the video is fantastic! :P
Sushi Oshi IX
Awesome - two of my palettes were used! I fully admit to being a wee bit obsessed with sushi.

Where do you like to eat sushi?
I work in Toronto, which has more sushi restaurants than most places. My favourites include Simon Sushi on Spadina, New Generation Sushi on Bloor West, and for gourmet goodness, O Sushi in Oakville, on Lakeshore Rd. West. I also make my own... read on!

If you make sushi, share some tips!
For anyone at all interested, I have a very indepth set of instructions on making makisushi, including awesome combinations to stuff it with. LoveNote me if you're interested!
hungry now
yes this has made me very hungry XD
Hungry now too!

Sushi for Two
How did I miss this post until now?! Thanks for posting the link to the group - it's becoming an awesome collection of colours, palettes, and more recently patterns.

I actually have gone out for sushi with my camera before. I find the presentation and colours fantastic (not to mention the taste!). When I get a chance, I will try and post some pictures. ^_^
Hmmm I just ate some now :D
hmmm it looks so damn good!!
i made a sushi palette, too!


Post a Comment

You must be logged in to post a comment.