Difference Between Sushi And Sashimi

When it comes to Japanese food, many people would easily think about sushi and sashimi. If you are dining at a sushi restaurant, you’ll normally also find sashimi on the menu. But do you know the difference between these two?

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Many people use the terms sashimi and sushi interchangeably. But in reality, they are not the same. There are significant differences between sashimi and sushi, and knowing how to differentiate one over the other allows you to have a better dining experience.

Difference between sushi and sashimi

What is Sushi?

Simply put, if there’s no vinegar rice, it is not sushi. More often the rice used in sushi is white rice but some home chefs use brown rice as a substitute.

The name sushi means “sour-tasting” as a result of adding vinegar to the rice. It is the main ingredient of the dish. While traditional sushi often includes raw seafood, nowadays, you may also find sushi with cooked seafood, meat, eggs or veggies.


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Sushi dishes are popular not just in Japan but also in other countries such as the US. They are well-received because of their unique flavor that is pleasing to the palate.

Preparing Sushi Rice

Most of the ingredients for making this dish are available at your local grocery store or online.

Ingredients

Procedure

The amount per ingredient for making sushi may slightly vary depending on your preference, but the basic steps are:

  1. Cook the rice as per instruction on the label.

  2. While the rice is cooking, cook the vinegar in a saucepan over low heat. Add the salt and sugar. Whisk continuously until the sugar and salt have dissolved.

  3. Transfer the cooked rice to a big bowl and then slowly add the vinegar mixture. Instead of stirring, slowly fold the rice and the vinegar mixture until they are fully incorporated. Set aside to cool.

  4. When the rice is already at room temperature, use it to prepare your favorite sushi dish.

Two Type of Sushi

Nigiri

The word ‘nigiri’ means hand-pressed sushi. True to its name, nigiri sushi is the oval-shaped hand-balled vinegared rice topped with thinly sliced fish or sashimi-grade fish. The most commonly used raw fish for Nigiri sushi-making are tuna, yellowtail and salmon. Fatty tuna which is the belly section of bluefin tuna is also a popular option. Sometimes, cooked fish and seafood such as shrimp and eels are added to the dish instead of raw fish.

Most nigiri dishes are best paired with soy sauce or wasabi. Sometimes, wasabi is already added in between the rice and raw fish. Sometimes the wasabi is served as a dipping sauce.

Maki

Maki or more popularly known as sushi rolls rival nigiri in popularity. This type of sushi dish consists of thin slices of fish or other seafood. It may also contain a wide assortment of vegetables and even fried ingredients. These ingredients are layered on top of sushi rice and then rolled using a dried seaweed or toasted seaweed sheet called nori. The maki sushi rolls are then cut into bite-sized pieces before serving. Sometimes, the roll is made inside out where the vinegared rice is on the outside instead of the nori sheet.

If you will notice, the two dishes both use vinegar-soaked rice. The final dish is also generally made into bite-sized pieces. They can be accompanied by soy sauce, wasabi or pickled ginger.

What is Sashimi?

Sashimi is from the word sashi which means pierced or stuck and mi which means body or meat. From sashi and mi, sashimi is loosely translated as a pierced body. It is one of the most popular Japanese delicacies well-loved by people around the world.

While many people associate sashimi with raw fresh fish, its true definition means otherwise. Aside from fresh seafood, you could also make sashimi from raw meat. The most commonly used fish for making sashimi are saltwater dwellers such as bluefin or yellowtail tuna and mackerel. For the meat, the options include pork, chicken, beef and even horse.

More often, in a Japanese restaurant setting, sashimi is served thinly sliced with grated or shredded daikon radish and of course, soy sauce. The key thing with sashimi is that it is eaten raw, regardless if it is fish or meat.

If you are a big fan of eating sashimi, you may be familiar with sashimi-grade fish which is considered high-quality seafood. Sashimi-grade fish is the safest fish available for both sashimi and sushi.

Just like sushi, there are also different types of sashimi and they are called based on the ingredients used. The most common are sake, katsuo, maguro and ahi.

Difference Between Sushi and Sashimi

If you have been eating food that is of Japanese origin such as sushi or sashimi, it’s easy to distinguish the difference between the two dishes.

Preparation

The first main difference between sushi and sashimi is that the former is a final small dish that may contain sashimi among other ingredients. Sushi can’t be sushi unless it has rice with vinegar. On the other hand, sashimi is a solo act and is served plain. It usually comes with just soy sauce, allowing you to enjoy the full flavor of the seafood or meat.

Ingredients

Another difference in sushi vs sashimi is that sushi may be made without seafood or meat. As long as the rice is there, it is considered sushi. Sushi may also contain vegetables, eggs and other ingredients. For sashimi, the meat or fish is always the star or lone ingredient.

Another noticeable difference between the two is that sashimi is always raw, while sushi is not always. Aside from raw fish, sushi may also contain certain cooked fish or seafood and other cooked ingredients.

Nutritional Value

As for the nutritional value, both sushi and sashimi are generally healthy foods but they should be consumed in moderation. Fish-based sashimi is rich in Omega-3 fatty acids. Fish-based sushi is also the same with the addition of more calories and carbs. Sushi may also contain other essential nutrients depending on the vegetables and other added ingredients.

FAQ

  1. Which has the most health benefits?

    If the comparison is based on the presence of different essential nutrients, the answer would be sushi because it is a mix of more than just one ingredient. Sashimi is a single ingredient while sushi may contain sashimi and several other ingredients.

  2. Are the fish used in sushi and sashimi free from mercury and other heavy metal contaminants?

    Fish such as tuna, seabass, yellowtail, swordfish and mackerel that are commonly used in sushi and sashimi are predators in the food chain, so they are generally high in mercury. Other fish and seafood with lower mercury content that is used in both dishes are salmon, eel, clam and crab.

  3. Is eating sushi or sashimi safe?

    Both sushi and sashimi are generally safe for consumption. However, those with compromised immune systems or are pregnant should avoid these dishes to avoid foodborne illnesses due to the use of raw ingredients. Aside from that, mercury in the fish could also be detrimental to your health.

  4. Can I make sushi without nori?

    Nori may seem like a staple in sushis but if you don't have it on your pantry, or you just don't like its taste, don't worry as there are several available substitutes. You can try tofu skin, cucumber sheet or radish sheet as substitutes.

  5. Are there other types of sashimi and sushi?

    Yes, there are many other types of sushi including Temaki, narezushi, Temari, sasazushi and more. The different types of sashimi are katsuo (skipjack tuna), sake (salmon), Maguro (bluefin tuna), ahi (yellowfin) and engawa (halibut) among others.

Conclusion

Sushi and sashimi are not the same dish. In fact, these two have many differences in the preparation, ingredients and nutritional value. Knowing how these two differ, you can now confidently order the type of food that you really like when visiting a local Japanese restaurant.

It’s important to note that while sushi and sashimi are safe for consumption, they are best to be consumed in moderation. Raw fish and meat may carry food-borne diseases and mercury. If you have a health condition and are not sure whether consuming either of these dishes is safe for you, it’s always a good idea to consult your doctor first.

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NishikiNishiki Premium Sushi Rice, 10lbsCheck Price on Amazon
MarukanMarukan Unseasoned Rice Vinegar | Sushi Rice Vinegar | Sauces Stir Fry Dipping Marinades More 12 fl ozCheck Price on Amazon
CHOI'S 1Organic Daechun(Choi's1) Roasted Seaweed, GIM (50 Full Sheets), Resealable, Gold Grade, Product of KoreaCheck Price on Amazon

* If you buy through links on our site, we may earn an affiliate commission. For more details, please visit our Privacy policy page.