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Sushi 102: Types of Sushi

by Bethany (follow)
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So we’ve read a little about the basic components of sushi in the last instalment. Now let’s talk about the different kinds of sushi you can find in a typical sushi restaurant.

Nigiri 握り寿司

Nigiri (握り), meaning ‘pressed’, is hand-pressed sushi with the neta draped on top. Each piece is one mouthful, and usually has wasabi smeared inside.


It originated in Edo, now called Tokyo, and used fresh ingredients from Edo Bay (now Tokyo Bay), giving it the formal name Edomae nigirizushi) 江戸前握り寿司).

Gunkanmaki (軍艦巻き), meaning ‘warship roll’, is a subset of nigirizushi. A piece of nori is wrapped around the circumference of the pressed rice, forming a ‘ship’ in which the neta is placed.

Image retrieved from https://www.flickr.com/photos/takaokun/

This type of sushi was created because it allowed smaller neta such as sea urchin and caviar to be used without falling off nigirizushi due to their size.

Norimaki 海苔巻き

Norimaki, meaning ‘nori roll’, is also referred to as makizushi (巻き寿司) ‘rolled sushi’, or makimono (巻物) ‘rolls’. Its cylindrical shape is made using a bamboo mat called a makisu (巻簾), before being cut into six or eight pieces.

Retrieved from https://www.flickr.com/photos/avlxyz/

Futomaki (太巻き), or ‘thick rolls’, are large rolls about five to six centimetres in diameter that contain several different fillings, usually vegetarian. These fillings can also be arranged so that, when sliced, it forms a shape in the cross-section. This is known as kazarizushi (飾り寿司), or ‘decorative sushi’.

Retrieved from https://www.flickr.com/photos/mike-f/

Nakamaki (中巻き), ‘medium rolls’, are made primarily with seafood ingredients. In more recent times, ‘salad rolls’ and eho-maki (恵方巻) ‘happy direction rolls’ (uncut futomaki or nakamaki, usually eaten at the Setsubun festival) have also increased in popularity.

Retrieved from https://www.flickr.com/photos/jdbaskin/

Hosomaki (細巻), ‘thin rolls’, typically only contain one filling such as cucumber (kappamaki 河童巻), cooked tuna and mayonnaise, natto (fermented beans) and other variations.

Chirashizushi ちらし寿司

Known as ‘scattered sushi’, this is a bowl of sushi rice with the ingredients ‘scattered’ across the top. Typical ingredients include raw fish and vegetables or garnishes, but can be anything you happen to like.

Retrieved from https://www.flickr.com/photos/acme/

Oshizushi 押し寿司

‘Pressed sushi’, also known as hako-zushi (箱寿司) ‘box sushi’ is made by pressing the toppings and sushi rice into a mold, called an oshibako. It is a Kansai region specialty, particularly in Osaka, and typically uses cooked or cured ingredients. Unlike nigirizushi, oshizushi is made in one large block and cut into smaller pieces before eating.

Famous variations include batterazushi, using mackerel, also known as sabazushi.

Retrieved from https://www.flickr.com/photos/avlxyz/

Inarizushi 稲荷寿司

This is sushi rice folded inside a pocket of flavoured, deep-fried tofu (inari). It is named for the Shinto God Inari, as it is said to be the god’s favourite food.

Retrieved from https://www.flickr.com/photos/sermarr/

Note that inari-maki is a sushi roll filled with pieces of inari and is a separate dish.

Temakizushi 手巻き寿司

This is a sushi roll you fill with your own choice of ingredients and wrap in nori. It is very popular for house parties, as you can prepare it yourself. sushi restaurants and convenience stores in Japan have also begun selling temaki, but the fillings are pre-determined.

Temakizushi - Image retrieved from https://www.flickr.com/photos/stuart_spivack/

These are some of the more common types of sushi that you’ll be able to see in Japan. Each region of Japan has their own variation upon them, stamping it with its own unique style, so if you’ve tried something special, let us know!

In the next part, we will talk briefly about variations that have been popularised in Western societies.

Part One || Part Three

#Japanese Cuisine
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