Sushi is a typical Japanese food with over a thousand years of history and tradition. It has become perhaps the most visible example of Japanese cuisine in other countries. Consists of cold cooked rice dressed with vinegar that is shaped into bite-sized pieces and topped with raw or cooked fish, or formed into a roll with fish, egg, or vegetables and wrapped in seaweed or stuffed in a small tofu pouch.
The oldest form of sushi, dating back to 7th century Japan, is known as narezushi. This sushi began as salted fish that was fermented over many weeks. It was not until the 10th century that the fish was stuffed with rice before the fermentation process. This stuffed, fermented fish had a very pungent smell and is considered the ancestor of modern-day sushi, which can be defined as “vinegar rice served with other ingredients.”
Futomaki – This is the thick, fat roll of sushi that is usually cut into seven or eight pieces.
Hosomaki – This is a thin sushi roll that usually contains only one type of filling.
Uramaki – This is a sushi roll where the fillings wrapped with nori are on the inside and the rice is on the outside surrounding the nori.
Temaki – Also known as a “hand roll,” this is a cone-shaped sushi roll wrapped in nori, where one end is sealed off with the seaweed and the other end is loose with the ingredients spilling out.
Nigiri – Nigirizushi is an oblong shape of vinegar rice, often formed in the hands with a bit of wasabi, topped with a slice of raw or cooked fish or vegetables. Popular toppings include salmon, tuna, squid or eel. When it is served with loose or slippery toppings like fish roe, a strip of nori is wrapped around the nigiri and it is called “gunkan.”
Oshi – Oshizushi hails from Osaka in south-central Japan. It is sushi that is pressed into a rectangular shape using a sushi press, also known as an “oshibako.” The toppings are laid at the bottom of the mold, and then covered in vinegar rice. The cover is pressed down on the ingredients to create a tight, rectangular block of sushi that can be cut into pieces.
Chirashi – Chirashizushi translates to “scattered sushi” and is served in a sushi bowl. It consists of a bed of vinegar rice with the ingredients mixed on top. Bara sushi is a similar dish where the sushi rice and the ingredients are all mixed together. It is also known as “Gomoku” sushi.
Inari – Inarizushi is also known as “stuffed sushi.” It uses tofu instead of vinegar rice on the outside and usually contains the vinegar rice on the inside. The tofu “pouch” is deep fried to create “aburaage,” or fried tofu bags.
Onigiri – Also known as a “rice ball” or as “omusubi”, onigiri consists of sushi ingredients rolled up into a ball of regular steamed rice. The ball is sometimes wrapped in nori. It is debatable whether this is a type of “sushi.”