Recently, we started to be interested in Japanese cuisine, which is why we decided to make up for it and we created a kind of guide for sushi for beginners, in which we discuss the types of sushi. At the bottom is a link to a more detailed post with a report from a restaurant in Tokyo, in which we show what sushi actually is eaten in Japan. But for now the basics: the names and types of sushi. Sushi for beginners:
Before I go on to discussing specific types, I would like to first define the term sushi. Sushi (寿司) generally means not only the dish itself but also the way of preparing and serving fish and other seafood (often raw) or vegetables on specially prepared rice. The rice is seasoned with sugar, rice vinegar, and a special mirin mortar. Depending on the type of serving, including in particular the shape and size of a portion of rice and fish, there are several types/types of sushi. I’m sure you know some of them well, but let’s do a little summary.
If the word sushi creates a new word along with another word preceding it, then it is pronounced (and written in the Latin alphabet) as zushi. What’s more, when a woman speaks in Japanese about sushi, she usually calls it osushi, because by adding the prefix o- this word acquires more delicate and elegant overtones.
Nigirizushi (握 り 寿司)
Nigiri (and basically nigirizushi / nigiri-zushi), the most popular type of sushi. The name of this sushi practically reveals the concept of its preparation. Nigiri means “catch” and nigirizushi are hand-shaped oval portions of rice, on which fit the shape and size of a piece of fish, squid, octopus or Japanese omelet. Between rice and what’s up, there should be a bit of wasabi. (Wasabi is a green Japanese horseradish.)
Types of sushi: Nigiri (nigirizushi) with tuna
Nigiri (nigirizushi) with Japanese omelet (tamagoyaki)
Makizushi (巻 き 寿司)
Maki (and basically makizushi / maki-zushi) is the second most popular type of sushi. The word maki means “roll up”, “roll”, so maki-zushi is simply “roll sushi”. Makizushi is a roll of rice with additives in the middle, which is wrapped in a pressed hydroponic. (Sometimes the makizushi rolls into a thin omelet.) The rolls are then cut into pieces. The makizushi filling can be a single ingredient or multi-ingredient. It uses fish, seafood, vegetables (marinated radish, pickled gourd), etc. Makizushi is served with wasabi horseradish, soy sauce and marinated ginger in slices.
Types of sushi: makizushi (rolled sushi)
Makizushi is divided into various types depending on the size of the roll and how it is rolled up. The basic types of makizushi are:
Hosomaki (細 巻 き)
The name hosomaki / hoso-maki comes from the word for “thin”. Hosomaki are the smallest pieces of sushi. Their size (diameter) is about 2-3 cm. The most common are rolls with one-component filling. Due to the small size of the pieces, hosomaki are considered good for children.
Types of sushi: hosomaki with tuna
Chūmaki (中 巻 き)
The name chūmaki / chū-maki comes from the word for “medium”, “medium”. A chūmaki is medium sized makizushi. Their size (diameter) is about 3-4 cm. Usually, these are multi-component filling rolls.
Futomaki (太 巻 き)
The name futomaki / futo-maki comes from the word meaning “fat”, “fat”. Futomaki is the largest makizushi. Due to the large diameter (about 4-6 cm) and small thickness (about 1 cm), the futomaki slices are quite flat. These are multi-component filling rolls. Sometimes the ingredients are laid in patterns – for example, flowers (see below).
Flower sushi – maki sushi with a floral pattern
Uramaki (裏 巻 き)
The name uramaki means more or less “inverted maki”. It is a kind of roll in which the ingredients of the fillet and nori seaweed are inside, and the rice forms an outer shell.
Types of sushi: uramaki with Japanese omelet (tamagoyaki)
Gunkanmaki (軍艦 巻)
Gunkanmaki / gunkan-maki are “tubes” of pressed nori seaweed partially filled with rice (rice forms a “bottom”) and partly other ingredients. Gunkanmaki is a popular option for serving roe, especially sea urchin and salmon eggs. Some sources say that gunkanmaki is a special kind of nigirizushi because they resemble pieces of nigiri that are wrapped around in a nori seaweed flake.
Types of sushi: gunkanmaki with salmon spawn (ikura) and sea urchin (uni)
Ehōmaki (恵 方 巻)
ehōmaki can be translated as “a roll of a happy direction”. It is a roll composed of seven ingredients considered to be lucky. These ingredients traditionally include eel, egg, kanpyō (gourd) and shi-take mushrooms. The Japanese often eat ehōmaki during setsubun (the eve of spring) to ensure happiness and prosperity in the coming time. These rolls do not cut before eating!
Do not confuse Korean sushi with kimbap!
Many people mistake Japanese futomaki and Korean kimbap (gimbap). But rice in Korean kimbap is not seasoned with sugar, vinegar, and mirin. In addition, the ingredients of kimbap fillings may contain meat other than fish (luncheon meat is popular), and vegetables – for example, carrots, ingredients that do not appear in sushi. Kimbap may seem similar to futomaki, but this is another dish.
The types of sushi I’m going to talk about now are not very popular outside of Japan. But in my opinion, it is worth knowing them (eg in the context of a trip to Japan). And definitely worth a try if you have the opportunity.
Temakizushi (手 巻 き 寿司)
Temaki (and basically temakizushi / temaki-sushi) are cones made of pressed nori seaweed, which are filled with rice and toppings. Temakizushi additions may include fish, seafood, vegetables, Japanese omelet (tamagoyaki), Japanese mushrooms (e.g. shītake), etc.
Chirashizushi (散 ら し 寿司)
The name chirashizushi / chirashi-zushi (or barazushi, barachirashi) means “dispersed sushi”. In principle, it is a bowl of rice, on which are arranged various types of additives, such as raw fish and other seafood, tofu and vegetables. Local delicacies are often added, such as lotus root, shîtake mushrooms, etc.
With chirashizushi evolved the Hawaiian poke bowl / poke bowl (be sure to read about them and make your own – recipes for checked poke bowl).
Types of sushi: chirashizushi – “scattered sushi”
Oshizushi (押 し 寿司)
Oshizushi / oshi-zushi is sushi formed and served in cubes. The shape of the cube is obtained thanks to special forms oshibako, in which the rice together with the specific ingredient is compressed. This kind of sushi is popular especially in the Kansai region (Osaka, Kyoto and Kobe and surrounding areas). Oshizushi is also known as a batter (the term used in Osaka Prefecture), gozaemonzushi (Tottori Prefecture) and kakuzushi (Hiroshima prefecture).
Inarizushi (稲 荷 寿司)
Inarizushi / inari-zushi is a portion of rice enclosed in a pocket of thin slices of fried tofu (inari) with the addition of sweet soy sauce. This type of sushi is often an addition to the bento sets (Japanese lunch boxes).
Types of sushi: inarizushi (rice in fried tofu)
Lunch set: buckwheat soba and inarizushi
Legend has it that inarizushi has been named so-and-so in honor of Inari, the goddess Shinto. It is believed that Inari foxes, messengers, love fried tofu. In addition, the Japanese believe that the pieces of inarizushi resemble the shape of pointed ears of foxes.
Nare-zushi (熟 れ 寿司)
Narezushi / nare-zushi is a type of sushi with long-fermenting (in barrels) fish.
Sushi did not go to Europe directly from Japan, but from the United States, where it was partly adapted to the tastes of Americans. It was in the USA that several new types of sushi were created. Such “western sushi” basically does not eat in Japan. What’s more, people from Europe and the Americas do not always realize that they eat American, not Japanese food. Although the names of these rolls (because they are mostly rolls) can be a clue. American sushi includes:
- California roll (with avocado, crab sticks/surimi, and cucumber),
- Caterpillar roll (with avocado, crab sticks/surimi, eel, and cucumber),
- Philadelphia roll (with salmon, Philadelphia cheese, cucumber, sometimes also with onions),
- Crunchy roll (California Roll in batter/tempura, often with sauce).
I hope you will find this short guide to the types of sushi, and their names will now be more understandable to you. As sushi has long been popular in the West, I am sure that I have only completed your knowledge with a few details. Nevertheless, I am curious which type of sushi is your favorite. My favorite sushi is definitely nigirizushi because by eating it, I can taste the taste of pure fish, which is a key element for me.
QUESTION FOR DISCUSSION: Which type of sushi do you like best?