Sushi Terminology

How well do you know your sushi? A novice may walk into our Seattle sushi restaurant and be surprised at the different shapes and forms that sushi comes in; each one of these has a name, and you can impress quite a few people by being able to identify every kind of sushi appropriately.

One of the easiest varieties of sushi to identify is the maki sushi. These are known more informally as “rolls” in America, named for the way the fish and other ingredients are rolled up on a platform of rice and sliced into the distinctive round pieces you pop in your mouth. Maki sushi is particularly popular, and consists of such classics as the California roll.

Some sushi comes in more of a fun-sized candy bar shape, with a little brick of rice supporting a slice of fish or other food on top of it. This is known as nigiri sushi. Common varieties of nigiri sushi include the unagi (eel), tamago (egg), and ebi (shrimp).

If the slice of fish isn’t resting on a bed of rice, it’s called sashimi. This is sushi in its simplest form, taking it back to its origins when the rice was merely a means to preserve the fish meat. Perfectionists may insist that, as the word “sushi” technically refers to the vinegared rice that was used in such preservation, it’s a bit misleading to refer to sashimi as such. However, the word remains an umbrella term for many sushi restaurants.

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