A Beginner’s Guide to the Different Types of Sushi

Updated April 28, 2016

a platter with an assortment of different types of sushi

Eating sushi for the first time can be a very intimidating experience. There are so many different types of sushi; it can be confusing to know what to order. When most people think of sushi, they think of raw fish. If the idea of raw fish does not appeal to you, you may think you don’t like sushi. However, there are a number of different types of sushi that do not involve raw meat.

This ultimate guide to the different types of sushi will help you learn what you do and don’t like. Keep this guide handy and you’ll never be confused by another sushi menu again.

Types of Sushi: Maki
Types of Sushi: Nigiri
Types of Sushi: Sashimi
Types of Sushi: Chirashi

Types of Sushi: Maki

Makizushi (maki for short) is the most common type of sushi. Makizushi literally means “rolled sushi” and that’s exactly what it is. Maki sushi is made by wrapping fish, vegetables, or meat into nori (seaweed) using a bamboo mat called a makisu. It can also be wrapped in a thin egg omelette, soy paper, or cucumber. Each roll is cut into six to eight bite-size pieces. Maki is also sometimes called norimaki. You can eat maki with either your fingers or chopsticks.

The most common types of maki are:

Futomaki means “thick, large, or fat rolls.” These rolls are larger at about two inches in diameter and are stuffed with two or more fillings. The nori is typically on the outside.

Hosomaki means “thin rolls.” They are about 2.5 centimeters in diameter and usually have only one filling (tuna, cucumber, carrot, and avocado are popular choices).

Ehomaki means “lucky direction roll.” These rolls are filled with exactly seven ingredients because this is considered lucky. The most common ingredients in ehomaki are kanpyo, egg, eel, and shiitake mushrooms.

Temaki means “hand roll.” Temaki is a large cone-shaped piece of nori stuffed with ingredients that spill out the wide end of the cone. It’s ideal to eat temaki with your hands as it can be award to pick up with chopsticks. You should eat temaki shortly after it’s made as the nori quickly absorbs moisture and becomes soggy.

Types of Sushi: Nigiri

Nigirizushi, or nigiri, means “hand-pressed sushi.” With nigiri rolls, the rice is squeezed or “hand-pressed” into a mound. Neta, a slice of fish or seafood, is placed on top of the rice mound. Many sushi chefs will add wasabi in between the rice and neta.

An order of nigiri will typically consist of two pieces. It is easiest to eat nigiri with your hands. Because wasabi is already on the nigiri, no additional sauce is needed; however, you can dip the fish side in soy sauce.

Sushi chefs may also add toppings to the rice with a thin strip of nori. Popular toppings include octopus, freshwater eel, sea eel, squid, and sweet egg.

Types of Sushi: Sashimi

If you’re one of the people who immediately thinks “raw fish” when you hear sushi, then you are probably thinking of sashimi. Sashimi means “pierced body” and is simply raw fish served without rice. If it is served with rice, it is considered sushi.

Sashimi is typically served over a garnish. You can eat sashimi with soy sauce or wasabi. Sometimes, wasabi paste is already mixed into the soy sauce when served with sashimi. It’s proper to eat sashimi with chopsticks.

Types of Sushi: Chirashi

Chirashizushi means “scattered sushi.” Of all the different types of sushi, chirashi is most similar to sashimi. It is a bowl of vinegared sushi rice topped with raw fish, or sashimi. Sometimes it is also topped with raw vegetables and garnishes.

Related Links:

Learn Everything You Ever Wanted to Know About All the Different Types of Sushi / All About Sushi Guide

100 Kinds of Sushi in Japan / Japan Talk

Sushi / Wikipedia

20 Best Sushi Rolls / Rant Lifestyle

Types of Sushi & Sashimi / The Nibble

Types of Sushi With Pictures / The Nibble

The Most Delicious Types of Sushi Rolls / Ranker

The Different Kinds of Sushi: Types, Names and Photos / HubPages

Types of Sushi & Sashimi / Benihana

Types of Sushi / Sushi.info

A Beginner’s Guide to Eating Sushi / HuffPost Taste

Sushi Basics: Know Your Sashimi from Your Nigiri / The M Point of View

Gluten Free Fast Food Options at Popular Restaurants / Proven Tricks