Sushi is one of those Japanese dishes that is loved the world over but often the sushi you find outside Japan takes on some interesting twists on the traditional versions, so here is a quick guide to the traditional types of sushi in Japan.
Nigiri is probably what comes to mind when you think of sushi. The ingredient placed on top of the hand molded cylinder of vinegared rice is usually seafood but can also be vegetables, meat or egg. A thin layer of wasabi is added between the two layers although you can request your nigiri without wasabi. When eating nigiri, it’s preferrable to use your hands not chopsticks. Take a piece and gently dip the seafood side into a little soy sauce before placing the whole piece into your mouth.
Makizushi is also known as norimaki because this type of sushi uses seaweed (nori) sheets to roll up (maku) or enclose the rice and ingredients to create a cylinder which is then sliced into individual servings. There are two thicknesses of the cylinders, futomaki (thick or fat roll) and hosomaki (the thin roll). Sometimes the nori sheets are replaced with other ingredients such as sesame seeds or tobiko (tiny fish eggs) to give a different aesthetic affect, taste and texture. Unlike nigiri, wasabi is not added to makizushi.
While Temaki is served in restaurants, it’s also a simple and fun way to make sushi at home as all the ingredients are randomly placed on top of the seaweed sheet — a small square about 10cm x 10cm — with rice and then folded over into a cone shape. The ingredients are endless and the whole family can have fun making their own combinations.
The word osu means to push or press in Japanese. Oshi-zushi or pressed sushi is made by pressing ingredients into a box and then then creating layers with toppings. This traditional sushi style comes from Osaka and was developed from the method of preserving fish by packing it tightly in boxes with rice. The pressed sushi is cut in shapes usually rectangle or square and the pretty creations are often used for bento boxes or gifts.
Inarizushi is another type of sushi that is especially popular with children as there is no seafood or raw ingredients and it’s quite sweet. The outer layer is made of deep-fried tofu that has been steeped a marinade of dashi, mirin, soy sauce and sugar. Once infused with the sweet marinade, the deep-fried tofu pouch is drained, opened and stuffed with sushi rice. Inari-zushi is a very popular addition to bento boxes and while sushi rice is the standard filling, other ingredients such as sesame seeds, chilli flakes, or grated vegetables like burdock root or carrots are mixed with rice and stuffed into the pouches.
The word chirasu in Japanese means to scatter, so Chirashizushi can be translated as Scattered sushi, which is a perfect description of this dish as the ingredients are scattered over the vinegared rice in a decorative manner. Common ingredients are prawns, fish eggs, a green vegetable such as cuecumber or snow peas, seaweed and of course the manadory egg which is usually shredded. This is another type of sushi that is commonly made at home because it’s quick and easy to make but looks lovely on any table.
Gunkan Maki is a type of makizushi in the sense that nori seaweed is rolled around the sushi rice to create the base but it is then topped with ingredients such as sea urchin, salmon roe, negi toro (raw fatty tuna mixed with spring onions), and the very popular kanimiso (crab brain). It was invented in the 1940s during WWII and the word gunkan means battleship and these pretty and delicious sushi are meant to resemble small ships.
Talk to our consultants at Japan Holidays for the best tips on where to get great sushi at affordable prices to suit the whole family.