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Exploring the World of Sushi


08 September 2020

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Exploring the World of Sushi

*This article is provided by Japan cultural ambassador of Piofrot for the purpose to introduce provide superior Japanese cultural experiences.

When you’re exploring Japan, you might notice that there are a million different things for you to try. You can slurp down some udon noodles, mix up your own curry and eat more sushi than you probably should. Who doesn’t want to do that from time to time? Today, I’m going to be sharing some of the different types of sushi you can enjoy in Japan with you.


Different Types of Sushi

There are plenty of different types of sushi in Japan, but the sushi rice that they all contain binds them all together. Some of the different types of sushi that you should look out for include:


1.     Nigiri Sushi

Chances are, you’ll be able to find nigiri sushi all over Japan when you’re travelling around. It consists of small, moulded pieces of rice that are topped with fish.


There are actually plenty of different toppings to choose from, especially if you’re travelling through different regions. You’ll see raw fish, cooked egg and even things like squid. Sometimes, this will be served strapped to the sushi rice with a small strip of nori.


Nigiri sushi is often served with wasabi and soy sauce. We would recommend trying different amounts of both so that you can work  out which you like the most. Just remember to turn your sushi over when dipping it in soy sauce. The soy sauce enhances the flavour of the fish, not the rice.


My favourite popular toppings include tuna, salmon and shrimp, but there are loads of different toppings for you to try. Generally speaking, conveyor belt sushi restaurants like Sushiro have a generous amount to choose from.


2.     Inari Sushi

One of my personal favourites, Inari sushi consists of fried tofu that is filled with sushi rice and anything that you like. The combination of tofu and sushi rice might sound a little bit strange, but the pouches are actually soaked in something sweet before they’re fried. This leaves them with a flavour that perfectly complements the sushi rice.


In my Inari sushi, you can usually find a mixture of sushi rice and shiitake mushrooms. I would strongly recommend trying a couple of different things if you’re interested in working out what you should have in yours. Inari sushi makes for the perfect springtime treat, especially if you’re going for a picnic.


3.     Gunkanmaki

If you find gunkanmaki on a menu, you can expect to see a wide strip of nori surrounding a small bed of rice and a topping that would fall out without the nori belt. This popular form of sushi can be found all over Japan, with plenty of different toppings.


When I’m in Sushiro, I usually end up eating gunkanmaki topped with tuna mayonnaise. This might sound like an odd combination, but the nori strip stops the tuna mayonnaise from going everywhere. Tuna mayonnaise is my unconventional favourite, but you can also have ikura (salmon roe), uni (sea urchin) and tobiko – among other things!


4.     Norimaki

Probably the easiest of the bunch to recognise, norimaki are commonly known as sushi rolls. These are made using a small bamboo mat and they can easily be made at home. You place a sheet of nori on the mat, a layer of sushi rice and then anything else that you would like to have inside of your norimaki. There is an art to rolling the norimaki in the bamboo mat, but I’m certain that you’ll be able to master it.


In Japan, there are plenty of different norimaki variations, with different restaurants serving different types of norimaki. Some of these are more unique than others. It’s normal to see different types of raw and cooked fish, some pickled vegetables, cooked egg and cucumber norimaki that are named after legendary kappa. Don’t be afraid of trying them all when you see them!



5.     Hosomaki

The smaller sibling of norimaki, hosomaki usually come in bundles of six and are much smaller than norimaki. These bite-sized sushi pieces are usually just 2.5cm in diameter, making them a really convenient option for people who are travelling around Japan.


Served in restaurants across the country, it’s actually rare to see a sushi restaurant menu that doesn’t include hosomaki. Some of the most common ingredients include cucumber, tuna and pickled daikon.


6.     Futomaki

If you like norimaki, I can guarantee that you’ll like futomaki. These are essentially giant norimaki that are popular around the world. In Japan, they can usually be found around spring festivals and outdoor events.


Generally speaking, futomaki are filled with plenty of different vegetables, tamagoyaki and occasionally fish, with different chefs experimenting with different flavours. The one rule with futomaki is that it should be bright and colourful, with different people throwing their own flair into the mix. Some futomaki have just a handful of ingredients, others have a dozen.


While you can get futomaki all over Japan, you could also try making it in your own home. You make it in the same way that you would make norimaki, but the rolls are made to be much thicker.


7.     Temaki

Temaki are easy to make or eat, rolled up in a loose nori sheet. They contain both sushi rice and a variety of different toppings, but they’re eaten with the top of the nori sheet open, like a sushi-based ice cream cone.


Generally speaking, the ingredients will be almost spilling out of the wider end of the temaki. The sheer size of them means that they cannot be broken down and eaten with chopsticks, instead being held in the way you would hold a sandwich.

Naturally, these aren’t too popular at formal restaurants in Japan. But, they are popular at casual restaurants across the country and at family gatherings. Don’t worry, if you go anywhere and have to make your own, it’s really easy.

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