Sushi comes in many shapes and sizes. There's a kind out there for just about anyone, but if you've never had it before, you'll more than likely be overwhelmed with all the different names on the menu. We won't lie - the types of sushi out there are plentiful, which is why we're here to break down the most well-known kinds.
This is probably what you think of when you hear "sushi." It's rolled sushi and on just about every menu in sushi spots. There are three popular kinds of maki that you can get: hosomaki, futomaki, and chumaki. Each one varies in size, with futomaki being the largest, and can include up to four ingredients per roll. These three are also the typical rolls with rice, fish, and an assortment of ingredients inside like avocado or cucumber.
The dozens of rolls available means you'll more than likely stumble upon one you'd like to try. Some rolls like rainbow or spicy tuna roll will contain raw fish whereas California or spider rolls won't have any raw fish. So, depending on if you like the feeling or taste or raw fish, you'll have options based on your personal tastes. Vegetarian options are also available.
Nigiri is another type that might cross your mind when you envision "sushi." It's a hand-pressed bunch of rice that's typically topped with some sort of seafood. Every so often you may see wasabi on it as well, but it's a pretty simple form. The fish can also come doused in soy sauce, vinegar, or include spices throughout.
These types of sushi probably aren't the ones to turn to if you don't like raw fish. A slice of fish covers the entire bunch of rice, so you'll definitely get a noticeable mouthful. However, the fish is sometimes cooked and the rice can also be topped with tofu.
There is additional good news for those who stay away from raw fish. Not only can nigiri be topped with cooked fish, but it typically comes as part of an assortment platter. So, you'll have different types of sushi to pick and choose from.
Chirashizushi is a seemingly limitless dish that you can add a collection of ingredients to. This particular kind is also known as "scattered sushi," and typically includes fish, sushi rice, and other toppings like mushrooms or cucumber. You also don't even need to put fish in it and this type of sushi is a terrific way to use up any leftovers.
If you're introducing yourself to sushi then you should look into this kind first. You don't need to include fish of any kind but can familiarize yourself with sushi rice and the kinds of ingredients you would typically find in maki rolls. There really isn't any specific way to make this either and the recipe is constantly changing at the hands of home cooks, so the world is your oyster.
Temaki rolls are sort of like the Hulk version of maki rolls. Even when compared to the aforementioned futomaki roll, temaki is in a league of its own. Ingredients like rice, fish, vegetables, and seasoning are stuffed into hand-rolled seaweed wraps. The final product resembles an ice cream cone. Its size also makes it impossible to eat with chopsticks, so you'll need to eat it with your hands.
These rolls are best for people who are more comfortable eating sushi. You're getting a Herculean roll stuffed with the same sorts of things you'd find in your typical, smaller maki roll. If you're just starting out with sushi, this isn't something you should consider right off the bat.
Should you want to try your hand at sushi, temaki is actually a good dish to try out. It doesn't require as much precision and the rolls loosely encase the ingredients. Things can get of messy when you're eating it, but that doesn't make it any less delicious.
Simply put, this type of sushi is nothing more than thinly sliced pieces of tofu that have been deep-fried and made into a sort of pouch. The pouch is typically stuffed with rice and vegetables. The pouch has also marinated in mirin, soy sauce, dashi (Japanese stock), and sugar. The end result is a great blend sweet and sour, making it the perfect dish for those who love indulging in that combination of flavors.
This is also another kind of sushi you should try if you're introducing yourself to this kind of cuisine. There isn't any fish in there and you don't need to add anything you're not fond of. It's also a terrific option for vegetarians given that there's often no meat involved.
This type of sushi requires a special tool called the "oshiwaku" to make. What happens is that an assortment of ingredients (that can range from just about anything typically found in sushi rolls) and rice are layered and then pressed together. From there, the end product is cut into either square or rectangular pieces.
You can play around with the ingredients in this recipe, but fish is usually included. Oshizushi is also more on the decorative side of things as well. These squares are sometimes dressed up with bamboo leaves or thin slices of sashimi pressed on top. It's also common practice for the oshiwaku to be glazed with vinegar in order to flavor the rice.
When you get right down to it, sashimi is just raw fish. Given that we're talking about a pretty blah ingredient on its own, sashimi is served with soy sauce, wasabi, or something else to dip it in. Sashimi is also what is sometimes draped over nigiri. The more popular kinds of sashimi are salmon, tuna, octopus, and scallops.
Sashimi is also technically not considered to be sushi. Sushi is often served with rice whereas sashimi is given to diners on its own.
As you've no doubt figured out already, keep away from sashimi if you're not a fan of raw fish. Additionally, if you need types of sushi to introduce you to the cuisine, you'd most likely be better off with the rolls that include lots of other ingredients. They'll drown out the taste and texture of sashimi and you'll get more flavor. Oftentimes, sashimi is pretty bland on its own.
As with anything, sushi will have its pros and cons. Pregnant women are usually required to keep away from having any sushi due to the risk of infection or bacteria from raw fish. In general, though, eating raw fish can welcome bacteria and pathogens to anyone consuming it. Sushi is still safe to eat so long as the proper techniques and health regulations are followed.
Sushi has its fair share of benefits too. You can boost your immune system, increase your dose of omega-3 fatty acids, and ingest lots of antioxidants. Depending on the kind of sushi you're eating, it can also help with weight management.
How healthy or unhealthy your sushi is really depends on you. If you're having a maki roll with unhealthier ingredients like tempura (deep-fried shrimp) then you'll obviously be ingesting something on the fattier side. However, rolls with salmon or tuna are usually good for you due to the protein and low fat content.
Whether you're a longtime fan or a newcomer, sushi can be as good for you as you make it. Remember to take things in moderation and familiarize yourself with the different types of sushi so that you can make an informed decision on your next outing.