Know your bonito from your unagi: sushi and sashimi explained

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Know your bonito from your unagi: sushi and sashimi explained

Once comfortably perched at the sushi counter, it's not uncommon to at times, find yourself staring curiously at shiny rotating mini plates wondering which choice best suits your tastebuds.

To alleviate food decision fatigue, we run through some of the most popular types of sushi and sashimi dishes and common ingredients found in Australia, and explain what to expect when chopstick hits mouth - it’s always a variation of delicious, but sometimes you just need to know what you’re signing up for.

Respect your roll

Not all sushi rolls are made the same way. There are a variety of popular types of sushi, and decoding them will elevate your sushi status from everyday dabbler to expert aficionado.

Nigiri
The fish sits on top of a bed of sushi rice. Usually there is no seaweed, just seafood (cooked or raw). This is a great choice for seafood enthusiasts who want to relish in focused fish flavours

Maki
One of the most common types of sushi, maki is sushi rice and filling rolled in seaweed. Sometimes the sliced maki are topped with a sauce.

Sashimi
Another one for hard-core seafood lovers, sashimi is raw fish or shellfish sans rice.

Uramaki
A variation of maki, here the rice is on the outside of the roll (sometimes with dustings of topping on the outside or top) and the seaweed wraps around the filling inside.

Temaki or hand roll
Great for lunch or a single serve snack, these are sushi rice and filling wrapped in seaweed in a large cone shape.

Sushi and sashimi terminology

California roll - makizushi sushi roll with crab meat, avocado, cucumber and toasted sesame seeds.

Aburi - fish that is grilled ever so slightly on the top using a blowtorch. This gives the fish a smokey flavour. A great choice for anyone with an aversion to the raw sushi varieties.

Ebi - prawn

Unagi – eel

Kanikama – crab sticks

Nori – dried seaweed

Roe - fish eggs

Wasabi – paste of wasabi root. Wasabi is spicy, but unlike chilli the heat on your palette is short lived.

Gari - young pickled ginger

Yuzu – fragrant citrus fruit very popular in Japan.

Tempura – deep fried vegetables or seafood.

Karage – meat (usually chicken) coated in potato starch or flour and fried.

Hoki salad – creamy seafood salad

Bonito – dark fish similar to tuna. Dried bonito flakes are also often used on other popular Japanese dishes and have a strong fishy flavour.

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