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Served sushi and sashimi

The Difference Between Sushi and Sashimi

Japanese cuisine offers an array of gastronomical delights with a vast range of regional and seasonal dishes. Dishes served in various places around Japan offer a diverse collection of regional foods that gives Japanese cuisine its own unique complexity. Sushi and sashimi are almost if not always part of the Japanese culinary experience synonymous to the country.

Assorted sushi


Sushi (すし, 寿司, 鮨) usually consists of cooked rice mixed with vinegar and sweet sake, raw or cooked seafood, seaweed, and vegetables.  Any combination of ingredients with vinegared rice served in bite-sized pieces are considered sushi. Sushi in essence, has nothing to do at all with fish. The word “sushi” actually describes the precise preparation of the rice used in making sushi. The rice used in making sushi is a specific variety of short-grain rice prepared with rice vinegar which has its own distinct flavor. The cooked rice grains stick together to enable the creation of sushi rolls.

The presentation of sushi varies but it always contains rice. Sushi is often served with a daikon garnish, wasabi, soy sauce, and shredded ginger. There are several types of sushi depending on the ingredients and how it is prepared.  Sushi should be spelled with a z when a prefix is added, a common practice in the Japanese language and morphonology known as rendaku, such as observed in the names of the types of sushi.

Slicing sashimi


Sashimi when translated means “pierced body”, referring to a delicacy of thinly sliced fish or other types of meat. Sashimi is always eaten as is without anything else except soy sauce and maybe wasabi. This enables the flavor of the meat to stand out and truly be savored.

The highest quality of seafood are considered to be sashimi-grade. Fish of the highest quality is caught on a single line rather than a net. The fish is immediately iced upon being landed to allow it to be as fresh as possible with minimal degradation and less build-up of lactic acid. Sashimi-grade fish is considered to be the safest fish for being consumed raw. Some types of the most popular fish are fatty tuna, salmon, squid and yellowtail. Other types of meat such as beef, chicken, and horse are also served sashimi-style in Japan.

Assorted sushi and sashimi

Sushi vs. sashimi

The main difference between sushi and sashimi is that sushi is made with rice with other ingredients whether raw or cooked, Sushi is further differentiated into maki, which are in the form of rolls and nigiri which are in pieces. While raw fish or other types of meat that are sliced and served without rice is called sashimi.

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Read all about Japanese immersion learning and studying abroad. Check out our eZasshi archives for more articles!