Mystified by sushi menus full of Japanese ingredients and confusing terminology? Never be afraid to ask your server or sushi chef for guidance. They’re the experts and will happily walk you through the menu and ingredients.
But if you’d like to do a little homework before you go, this glossary will help you make sense of the types of sushi, common ingredients, and some of the most popular rolls at your local sushiya.
What exactly are we talking about when we say “sushi?” Although sushi has become a blanket term for most Japanese raw fish dishes, it’s actually specific to a rice roll, which may contain raw fish and other ingredients.
Here’s a quick guide to sushi, nigiri, and sashimi:
Sashimi is simply raw fish. When you order a piece of sashimi, you’ll get a piece of fish with no rice or seaweed.
Nigiri is sashimi served on top of a bite of sushi rice. It generally won’t have additional vegetables or condiments on top.
“Sushi” refers to a rice-based roll, usually with additional condiments, vegetables, and/or raw or cooked fish. There are three types of sushi rolls:
Makimono: A sushi roll with seaweed on the outside, cut into 6 or 8 pieces.
Uramaki: A sushi roll with rice on the outside, cut into 6 or 8 pieces. For example, the popular California Roll is an uramaki roll.
Handroll: Sushi rolled into a cone shape. This is also known as temaki.
So now you know the difference between sashimi, nigiri, and sushi. But what goes inside all those tasty bites? Here’s a glossary of some (definitely not all!) of the common ingredients in sushi.
Ahi: Raw yellowfin tuna. Firm and flavorful.
Hamachi: Raw yellowtail. Buttery and tangy.
Ikura: Salmon roe (red fish eggs).
Maguro: Raw tuna. Buttery and fatty.
Masago: Bright orange roe from capelin fish.
Saba: Raw mackerel. Salty and a bit fishy.
Sake: Raw salmon. Buttery and melts in your mouth.
Sake Toro: Raw salmon belly.
Tamago: Cooked egg omelet.
Tobiko: Flying fish roe (small orange fish eggs).
Unagi: Freshwater eel. Soft and flaky.
Uni: Raw sea urchin. Briny, sweet, and creamy.
White Tuna: Raw butterfish. Also called escolar or super white.
Many sushi restaurants, including Hiro 88, have signature sushi rolls
that you won’t find anywhere else. In addition, there are also classic favorites that you’ll likely find on most menus across the country.
California Roll: Crab mix, avocado, and cucumber.
Caterpillar Roll: Cooked eel topped with avocado.
Philadelphia Roll: Smoked salmon, cream cheese, and cucumber.
Rainbow Roll: A California roll topped with a “rainbow” on top, like tuna, salmon, white tuna, and avocado.
Spicy Tuna Roll: Tuna and spicy mayo.
Spider Roll: Fried soft shell crab, cucumber, and avocado.
Check out our full menu of sushi, sashimi, and nigiri
at our various Omaha and Lincoln locations. Serving award-winning Chinese cuisine and some of Omaha’s best sushi, we have something for everyone’s palate.