The Untold Truth Of Sushi In Mexico

Sushi? In Mexico? If you've never tried it, you probably just did a double-take. Sure, you always figured that people in Mexico might be eating sushi, just as people in Italy might be eating quesadillas, while, somewhere in Japan, someone's ordering a cheeseburger. Food has spent centuries making its way around the world, and in recent years, more people have taken to traveling than ever (via The Washington Post). Fusion food is everywhere.

And when you think about Mexico from a geographical standpoint, it's no surprise that Mexican sushi emerged from restaurants in Sinaloa — a Mexican state with hundreds of miles of coastline. Here, refreshing ceviches and the raw, citrusy aguachile reign over the seafood scene (via Serious Eats).

So is it so surprising that sushi became the trendy new dish?

But Mexican sushi is more than an attempt to imitate the centuries-old Japanese culinary art. Mexican sushi is spicy, crunchy, cream cheese-slathered, and sometimes, surprisingly beefy: it is so different from Japanese sushi, and so unapologetically its own thing, that it's no wonder families gather at sushi restaurants, from L.A. and Tucson to the Mexican cities of Hermosillo and Culiacán (via Eater).

How Mexican sushi got its start

Ronald Guerrero, chef at Culichi Town just outside L.A., says Mexican sushi was born spontaneously, when a sushi chef in Sinaloa created a new roll using a piece of grilled skirt steak (via Vice). Can't you just hear the carne asada sizzling?

Aside from its legendary origins, Mexican sushi has long included wildly different ingredients than what you'd find in Japan.

Sure, it retains the usual sticky rice, not to mention the avocado and imitation crab meat that makes California rolls so iconic. But where Guerrero has whipped up sushi, the rolls include cooked shrimp, cilantro, American cheese, and bacon. There's mozzarella, chipotle sauce, and cream cheese — known endearingly in Mexico as "queso filadelfia" (via Culichi Town). Some pieces are deep-fried, and in South Tucson, they're topped with boneless buffalo wings, according to writer Bill Esparza.

The sushi has even made its way down to Mexico City, where rolls are delicately wrapped in mango and plantain slices (via We Are Mitú).

Northern Mexico has gotten creative when it comes to fusion food. Decades back, Sonoran-style hotdogs emerged in the Mexican city of Hermosillo, draping the American food in a mixture of bacon, beans, pico, jalapeños, and mayonnaise (via NPR). Years earlier, the Caesar salad was born in Tijuana after an Italian-American chef tossed together some eggs, parmesan, and Worcheshire sauce (via Huffington Post).

The sushi origin story isn't totally dissimilar: a chef in Mexico got bold and creative, and we're as thankful as we are hungry.