Different Types of Sushi

By on May 1, 2017

Over the last few decades, sushi has become increasingly popular across the world. While you may have grown up without ever trying this delicious food sushi is now available in most mid-sized towns across the county. You can eat sushi and nigiri with your hands like they do in Japan—just make sure the dip nigiri rolls upside down so that you don’t get too much soy sauce! Before you head to your neighborhood sushi bar, learn more about the different types of sushi that are available.

Focusing on the Five Main Types of Sushi

Maki: This type of sushi is made with rice and wrapped in seaweed. Basically, it is the type of sushi you normally think of when you think about sushi.

Temaki: Temaki is a hand-rolled sushi that is made into a cone shape. It is not ideal for sharing at a dinner party, but it is a great way to get a sushi snack on the go. In Taiwan, even 7-11 sells sushi in designs like this for people who need something delicious to eat while they are on the go.

Nigiri: Normally, nigiri consists of some type of topping that is served on top of rice. While the topping is normally fish, it does not have to be. It is often served raw, and the taste is perfect for people who love fish. My personal favorite is salmon nigiri with a couple of onion slices and a little lemon juice on top.

Uramaki: Uramaki has rice on the outside with the seaweed wrapping around the filling. You can get uramaki with a number of different sauces and toppings. Like many of the options on this list, uramaki can be raw or cooked.

Sashimi: Sashimi does not include rice. It is just fish or shellfish by itself, so it is ideal if you really love the taste of fish.

Sushi, nigiri and sashimi are fairly similar, so many people confuse them. Sashimi is generally raw fish, although the fish is sometimes cooked and sometimes non-fish options are used. Sashimi includes a variety of seafoods like unagi (cooked freshwater eel), so there is some room for variation. Sashimi is just the fish or meat that is served without other ingredients.

Sushi generally uses a blend of rice and ingredients like vegetables that are then rolled in nori (seaweed) before getting sliced into smaller pieces. When you buy sushi, it is either a maki (the entire roll) with the seaweed on the outside, temaki with the sushi in a cone perfect for carrying, or uramaki with the seaweed on the inside and rice on the exterior.

Nigiri is a blend of nigiri and sushi. Basically, nigiri is a kind of sashimi that is shaped into a rectangle of rice.

Types of Sushi Rolls

There are many, many types of sushi rolls, so it would be impossible to include all of them. Instead, we will just include some of the most popular options. We will include the types of ingredients in it, if the fish is raw and the types of people who will generally enjoy that kind of sushi.

Crunch Roll: A blend of crispy seaweed, spicy tuna and tempura made with raw fish. If you like crunchy and crispy textures, this option will be perfect for you.

Rainbow Roll: An excellent option if you like a variety of sashimi. Made with raw fish, it includes fish cake or imitation crab. It is also made with tuna, avocado, salmon, yellowtail, cucumber and shrimp. The inside of the sushi roll will generally be the same or quite similar to a California Roll. Afterward, different toppings (normally sashimi) are added on top.

Tiger Roll: This roll is made of cucumber, avocado, shrimp tempura and tobiko (flying fish roe). It is generally not raw, but you should check to make sure. It is ideal for anyone who likes the flavors of avocado and shrimp.

California Roll: California rolls are extremely popular and are ideal if you dislike raw fish and prefer avocado. This option is made with avocado, sesame seeds, cucumbers and crab or imitation crab. If you buy this at a supermarket, they may also include mayonnaise. The California Roll is also sometimes topped by some ahi.

Dragon Roll: Dragon Rolls are made with cucumber or avocado on the outside. Inside, you will find crab, eel and eel sauce. It is sometimes raw, and has a buttery, sweet flavor. These are often unique to each chef, so you may find a bit of variety. You will normally find the cucumber and eel on the inside. On the outside, it will have thin slices of avocado that make it look a little like a dragon.

Vegetable Roll: This is a great option if you like vegetables because it has asparagus, cucumbers, scallions, cream cheese, avocado and carrots. It does not include raw fish.

Philadelphia Roll: A Philadelphia Roll is ideal if you like cold, creamy flavors. It includes raw fish and is made with salmon, cream cheese and avocado. Despite its name, the Philadelphia Roll is not from Philadelphia. It was named this because it is made with Philadelphia Cream Cheese.

Spider Roll: Spider Rolls are made with cucumber, spicy may, soft-shell crab tempura and avocados. It does not include raw fish and has a crunchy texture. If your chef is particularly awesome, they may even make the Spider Roll so that it looks like there are spider legs coming out of the sides.

Dynamite Roll: This popular option is made with yellowtail, avocado, spicy mayo, shrimp tempura, bean sprouts, cucumbers, chili and carrots. Sometimes, it is made raw, so you should ask first. It has a crunchy, warm and creamy flavor.

Surf and Turf Roll: This option is made with fish cake or imitation crab as well as cucumbers, tuna, avocado, beef, salmon, tuna and carrots. The fish is raw, but the beef is cooked.

Caterpillar Roll: Caterpillar Rolls are made with just cucumber, avocado and eel. It is great if you love warm eel and avocado, and it does not include raw fish.

Spicy Tuna Roll: Spicy Tuna Rolls are made of chili sauce, mayo and tuna. This raw sushi is perfect if you love tuna and spicy flavors.

Volcano Roll: This roll can have a variety of different fillings, but it will be made to look like the roll is exploding with food.

Shrimp Tempura Roll: This roll is made with tempura flakes, avocados, shrimp tempura and eel sauce. It is not made raw and has a crunchy texture.

Tempura Roll: This roll is made with some type of tempura that is deep fried. It is sometimes raw, but is a great choice if you like the crunch and fatty flavor of fried food.

If you are looking for a vegetarian option, there are some sushi rolls that focus on cucumbers, eggs and avocados. Often, vegetarian options will be slightly cheaper. Keep in mind that different sushi bars will mix up their offerings, so the actual ingredients can vary from restaurant to restaurant.

The Types of Sashimi

In an effort to be more authentic, many sushi bars use the Japanese name for different fish and ingredients. To make your life a little easier (and to ensure you actually get what you want), we will include some of the common terms that you may encounter.

Hirami: Raw Halibut
Hamachi: Raw Yellowtail
Kani: Cooked Crab Meat
Ebi: Cooked Tiger Shrimp
Sake Toro: Raw Salmon Belly
Bincho: Raw Albacore White Tuna
Iwashi: Raw Sardines
Anago: Normally Boiled or Deep-Fried Saltwater Eel
Hotate: Raw Scallops
Janpachi: Raw Amberjack
Aji: Raw Spanish Mackerel
Tako: Cooked Octopus
Ahi: Raw Tuna
Tai: Raw Red Snapper
Unagi: Barbecued Freshwater Eel
Amaebi: Raw Sweet Shrimp
Tamago: Cooked, Sweet Egg Omelet
Aoyagi: Raw Round Clam
Ika: Squid (The tentacles are cooked and the body is raw.)
Katsui: Raw Skipjack Tuna
Ecolar: Raw Butterfish
Toro: Raw Blue Fin Belly
Saba: Raw Mackerel
Uni: Raw Sea Urchin
Umi Masu: Raw Ocean Trout
Ikura: Salmon Roe
Hamachi Toro: Raw Yellowtail Belly
Hokigai: Cooked Surf Clam
Maguro: Raw Tuna
Tsubugai: Raw Whelk Clam

Just about any sashimi meat can be turned into a sushi roll. While the spellings may vary from place to place, the previous sashimis are what you will generally find. From these simple ingredients, sushi masters can blend creative ingredients to make delicious, unique sushi rolls.

Some Other Words You May Find on a Sushi Menu

Sushi is about more than just meat. Many of the best sushi rolls include other ingredients like fresh avocado, cucumber, spicy chili and other flavors. Most sushi bars will offer an English translation of these foods, but we will include their translations just in case.

Donburi: This is a term for a traditional Japanese rice bowl dish. Normally, it is made by simmering together different types of vegetables, fish or meat before serving them over rice.

Agedashi: Agedashi is a soft tofu that the chef coats in potato starch. Afterward, it is deep fried.

Gyoza: If you have never tried gyoza, you should stop reading this article immediately and buy some. These Japanese pan-fried dumplings are stuffed with different vegetables, meats and fish. They are unbelievably delicious and a popular lunch option.

Kaki: This is a Japanese term that means the persimmon fruit.

Daikon: The daikon is a type of radish that is used in soups and other dishes. There is also a kind of hash brown that can be made from this radish.

Ikura: Ikura is a salmon roe (fish eggs).

Chirashi: Chirashi is a word for a bowl of rice that is blended with ingredients like fish and vegetables.

Maki: Maki is a dish that is made of rice and fillings that are wrapping in seaweed. In the United States, you know maki as sushi.

Katsu: Katsu is a kind of deep-friend cutlet.

Gomae: Gomae is a vegetable dish that is blended with sesame dressing.

Nasu: Nasu means eggplant.

Masago: Masago is orange fish eggs known as Capelin roe.

Mochi: If you have room for dessert, try mochi. This chewy dessert is made from rice flower and stuffed with fillings like sesame seeds or taro.

Kappa: This is just a Japanese word for cucumber.

Negi: Negi means green onion.

Ponzu: This is a type of Japanese dipping sauce that is made from a blend of soy sauce, vinegar, lime juice and fish flakes.

Miso: Miso is an extremely delicious seasoning that is traditional in Japan. In the United States, you probably encounter it in miso soup, which is made from miso, tofu, seaweed and other ingredients.

Kanikama: Kanikama is imitation crab meat.

Sashimi: Sashimi is extremely thin, sliced meat that is not served with any rice.

Omakase: This just means chef’s choice, so ask before you order it.

Ika: Ika is cuttlefish.

Temaki: Temaki is a hand-roll made of fish and rice before being wrapped in seaweed in a cone-like shape.

Yaki Tori: This is a type of skewered chicken made in a Japanese style.

Roe: Roe is just an English term for fish eggs.

Yamagobo: This is a Japanese food that consists of pickled burdock root.

Teba: Teba is chicken wings.

Shiso: Shiso is a type of Japanese herb used in many dishes.

Yakisoba: Yakisoba are delicious fried noodles made from buckwheat.

Tobiko: Tobiko is flying fish roe.

Tempura: Tempura can be made from many different types of fish that is breaded and fried before it is eaten.

Yuzu: Yuzu is a kind of citrus fruit that is quite delicious.

Udon: This is a kind of thick noodle that is made out of wheat flour.

Tentsuyu: This is a kind of tempura dip.

Wasabi: Wasabi is similar to our horseradish and is used to flavor dishes or as a paste served with sushi.

Sriracha: This is a kind of spicy sauce has a slightly sweet flavor.

Ume: Ume is a pickled plum.


Uzura: Uzura is quail.

Tekka: Tekka is a kind of condiment served in Japanese restaurants.

Wakame: Wakame is a kind of seaweed.

Kushiyaki: Kushiyaki is a generic term that covers a variety of skewered, grilled vegetables and meats.

Nigiri: This is a dish where raw fish is served over vinegared, over-pressed rice.

Toro: This is the belly area of the fish. Often, you will see it with another Japanese term that shows the kind of fish that it is the belly of.

Edamame: Edamame is a delicious dish made of unripened soybeans. Often, it is served with a sauce on it. You will often find it as an appetizer at sushi restaurants in the United States.

What Types of Condiments and Sides Are Available?

Most of the time, your sushi bar will offer more than just sushi. If you just want a snack or a small meal, head to the bar and grab one of the plates that is conveyed around the bar. For a regular meal or multiple courses, you can try other options. Often, miso soup is an excellent start to your meal. Fried vegetables and tempura are another great addition.

For your main course of sushi, you will most likely be given more than just sushi. Your server will probably offer thin, pink, pickled slices of ginger. Wasabi, a green paste that tastes similar to horseradish, will be brought to your table. Most likely, you will also be given shoyu (soy sauce).

The ginger is used to cleanse your palette between courses or bites of sushi so that you can really taste the different flavors. The Japanese will also blend a little wasabi with their soy sauce as a dipping sauce for their sushi. If you have never had wasabi, try a lick first. It has a fairly strong, spicy, flavor, so you don’t want to use more than you can handle.

If you want a delicious dessert to follow up your meal, try mochi. Made out of rice flour, this chewy, spongy dessert is served in a small, circular shape. It is often filled with ingredients like taro (somewhat like a Japanese sweet potato). Some restaurants also offer options like matcha tea or taro ice cream.

Known for its delicious flavor, sushi is available in many types. While many options are made with raw fish, there are some sushi types that are made with cooked fish as well. If you are unsure about what to choose, ask your chef for ideas. Many sushi bars offer a rotating bar that carries small plates of sushi near you. If you are unfamiliar with different sushi types, try out a few of these small plates to figure out your favorite.

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