Nothing is more gastronomically exciting than a plate of sushi. However, many people find themselves confused or intimidated once they walk into a sushi bar. As a result, they end up ordering something familiar like chicken teriyaki or the ever-popular California rolls.
If you’re someone who has walked into a sushi restaurant and wished you had a sushi dictionary, you’ve come to the right place.
Today, we’ve made a list of some of the most common sushi terms that you’ll see on the menu of most sushi places. Because when it comes to ordering pricey Japanese food, there’s very little room for error.
10 Most Common Sushi Terms You Should Know
Sashimi is technically not a sushi. Sashimi is basically just raw fish, that’s it! The fish is sliced in a long rectangular shape known as “hira-zukuri” and may be served with soy sauce, wasabi, and ginger on the side.
Most Americans think of maki when they hear the word “sushi.” In Japanese, maki means “roll” and it’s a type of sushi created using a makisu – a bamboo mat that’s used to roll the sushi.
Nigiri is another type of sushi which consists of rolled vinegared rice and raw fish slice topping. The vinegared rice is molded into a ball and topped with a slice of raw fish. Nigiri is typically eaten with your hands.
Nori means seaweed in Japanese. It’s a sheet of dried, black and green seaweed that’s wrapped around sushi pieces. It’s also great for snacking.
In some restaurants, temaki may be listed as hand rolls in their menu. A temaki is a cone-shaped roll that’s made of nori seaweed and stuffed with rice and fish. It’s a form of sushi that you can eat on-the-go.
Sake is a Japanese rice wine coming from fermented rice. Sake can be served either cold or warm, and can have an alcohol content of up to 20%.
Chirashi means “scattered” in Japanese. Basically, it’s a bowl of vinegared rice and topped with chef’s choice of raw fish and many different garnishes such as veggies, avocado, and more. It’s not very common outside of Japan but it’s another great way to enjoy sushi.
Wasabi is the spicy, green paste that usually comes with sushi. In high-end sushi restaurants, adding more wasabi to your fish is considered rude since the sushi masters have already seasoned them to perfection. In a less formal setting, people add more wasabi to the soy sauce.
Hashi is the Japanese word for your trusty chopsticks. Ideally, chopsticks are used for eating sashimi while other sushi types can be eaten by hand.
Gari is the sliced pickled ginger that’s served with sushi. The pickled ginger is meant to cleanse the palate between different sushi pieces.
Ready to Order Sushi?
With these sushi origin terms, you should know the basics that will help you understand the wonderful culture of sushi. Hopefully, this guide helps you improve your next sushi experience.