12 Types of Sushi and How to Identify Them

Sushi is one of the healthiest meals in the world. It’s rich in omega-3-fatty acids which help lower cholesterol and decrease the risk of heart disease. Authentic Japanese sushi is made with short grain rice and raw seafood. However, various other ingredients like processed meats, vegetables and even fruits have been added in modern times.

There are different types of sushi available, and here’s a simple guide on knowing what’s what.

1. Inarizuhi

This sushi consists of rice that’s packed into a hollow tofu skin called an abura age or Inari. This skin is deep fried and slightly sweet. You can buy pre-made abura age and just fill the rice in for a simple sushi meal. The rice is usually just plain rice with some sushi vinegar. However, the rice can also be flavored with seaweed or commercially available rice flavoring powder.

Image credit: Plakov @ Wikimedia Commons

2. Nigirizushi

Nigirizushi is a type of sushi that’s shaped by hand into and oblong piece and then a piece of seafood, vegetable or any other ingredient is placed on top. Common toppings on nigirizushi include Sake (Salmon), Ika ( squid), Kani ( crab), Ahi (Tuna), Saba ( Mackerel) and Hamachi ( Yellow Tail).

Nigirizushi was one of the earliest types of sushi to appear and is the preferred way for sushi masters to serve up fresh seafood at premium prices.

Sake nigirizushi

Image credit: Pixabay

3. Gunkan Maki

Gunkan literally means battleship, and Gunkan Maki are hand shaped sushi wrapped around the sides with a strip of dried seaweed called nori. The sushi is then topped with things like potato salad, egg mayo salad, tuna salad, corn,fish roe and sea urchin. The nori strip is always slightly higher than the rice in order to hold the toppings.

Image credit: Klardrommar @ Flickr

4. Hosomaki

Maki are rolled sushi that usually has a dried seaweed on the outside.It’s made by laying out a piece of nori on a bamboo mat and layering rice and fillings on it, before pressing it into a long roll. This long roll is then cut into smaller pieces.

Hosomaki is the thinnest type, with only one filling. Normal fillings include cucumbers, fried omelette and raw fish like salmon, tuna or mackerel. Hosomaki are often served in a set of six pieces.

Image credit: Oimax @ Flickr

5. Futomaki

Futomaki is the larger version of the rolled sushi  and usually has a combination of fillings. Raw fish is paired with strips of carrots, cucumbers, omelettes and shrimp. The art of making a Futomaki is to ensure that the ingredients look bright and colorful together. It’s also important that they taste good together and there’s a variety of textures to balance each other out.

Image credit: Vegan Feast Catering @ Flickr

6. Uramaki

Uramaki is also known as the ‘inside-out’ roll as the seaweed on this one is rolled into the inside with the rice facing out. This is achieved by layering on the rice first and then the nori onto the bamboo roll. The filling options are pretty much the same as for the Futomaki. However, the rice that’s facing outwards is often covered with sesame seeds or red fish roe to give it that extra crunch.

Image credit: Tomek Strabski @ Wikimedia Commons

7.  Temaki

Temaki are also commonly called California rolls or hand rolls. They’re the only type of sushi that looks like and ice cream cone. They’ve got to be eaten fresh or else the nori becomes soft and the Temaki loses it’s cone shape. Temaki is probably one of the fastest sushi to make.

Nori is first rolled into a cone shape and filled with rice. Then, stick of ingredients are added, like cucumber, avocado, carrots and the like. Next, some raw fish like salmon or tuna is placed between the rice. Some semi soft topping can also be added, including Natto and potato salad.

Image credit: Alpha @ Flickr

8. Chirashizushi

Chirashizushi is a very different type of sushi. It breaks the convention of sushi being rice that’s shaped into small pieces. This sushi is usually served in a large dish. The rice is leveled down as a base and various ingredients are arranged or sprinkled on top.

Usually, nine ingredients are the standard fare in Japan. These can include fish sashimi, shrimp, squid, fish roe, seaweed and the like. Chirazushi is one type of sushi that’s meant to be shared, which is why it’s commonly served at parties and festivals.

Image credit: Arashiyama @ Wikimedia Commons

9. Oshizushi

Oshizuki is also called boxed sushi or pressed sushi. It’s molded in a special bamboo box called an oshibako. Rice is filled into the middle of these boxes and pressed down and compacted with special covers. Then raw seafood is added to the top and the whole thing is pressed down again.

When the box is removed, the perfectly formed rectangular sushi is cut into smaller one inch pieces.

Image credit: hyolee2 @ Wikimedia Commons

10. Unagi Nigirizushi

Unagi or eel is probably the best seafood to top sushi rice. It’s also one of the rare seafood that’s traditionally cooked before being made into a sushi, instead of being served raw.

Eel is usually grilled with a slightly sweet sauce and then it’s sliced and placed on hand shaped rice. The texture of unagi is soft and slightly slimy, but it’s smoky savory flavour more than makes u for the lack of crunch. This is one sushi that will melt in your mouth as you recognize its brown color immediately.

Image credit: Alpha @Wikimedia Commons

11. Temarizushi

Probably one of the cutest sushi available, you can recognize Temarizushi by its spherical shape. Temarizushi is named after little decorative balls called Temari which are hung during festivals. Temarizushi is commonly served during Hinamatsuri or Gir’s Day and is made in large batches consisting of many colorful ingredients.

Image credit: YouTube

12. Sugatazushi

Sugatazushi is a pretty rare type of sushi and you’re pretty fortunate if you’ve tried it. Instead of placing fresh fish on rice, this sushi has rice being stuffed into cured or fermented fish. The fish is usually whole when stuffed and is sliced into smaller pieces for easy consumption.

Image credit: YouTube

Sushi comes in so many varied shapes and forms. If you have a favorite shape or type of sushi, why not let us know in the comments.

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