What is Sushi?

Salmon and avocado maki rolls on a black plate

Sushi [soo-shee] – cold boiled rice moistened with rice vinegar, usually shaped into bite-size pieces and topped with raw seafood (nigiri-zushi) or formed into a long seaweed-wrapped roll, often around strips of vegetable or raw fish, and sliced into bite-size pieces (maki-zushi). (Dictionary.com)

When people think of the Japanese culture, sushi often automatically comes to mind, and for good reason. Sushi began as a method for preserving fish in Japan. Rice was used in the fermentation process, as both fish and rice are in abundant supply in Japan. Over the years, the preparation changed and evolved into the sushi we know today, which looks and tastes much better and uses many ingredients aside from fish. Now, sushi is a very popular dish which is often served as a quick, cheap meal at stands all over Japan.

In the United States, sushi can range from cheaper, typical types such as the California roll and Inari-zushi, to more expensive rolls seen at fusion restaurants and nicer restaurants all across America. Many people shy away from the thought of eating raw fish, but most come back for more when they find that not only is most sushi made from ingredients other than raw fish, but that it is actually delicious!

I personally think sushi is wonderful – a little bite of heaven. Many of the recipes I provide won’t be completely traditional, but hey… they’re still tasty!

So if you’ve never had sushi, go out and try some! I promise you can find a type of sushi you like. And when you do decide you love sushi, come back and try making some with me!

“sushi.” Dictionary.com Unabridged (v 1.0.1). Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, Β©Random House, Inc. 2006. 07 Sep. 2006.

24 thoughts on “What is Sushi?”

  1. Ulysses -

    Nice post! I am from Brazil and sushi is quite popular here too.
    The recipes from here have also been adapted because there are plenty different fish here that are not found in Japan’s coast, and some of those are pretty expensive.


  2. Allison -

    πŸ™‚ Thanks Ulysses! Do you have any suggestions of Brazilian sushi you think I should make? I would definitely love to try the different flavors!

  3. Nanda -

    Hello! I’m from Brazil too. I saw once, in a TV program about sushi, a sushiman from Japan saying that Brazil has something good to contribute to sushi: green lemons.

    There are no green lemons in Japan, so they use vinegar. Because there _are_ green lemons on Brazil (I think they’re called Meyer lemons in USA), you can use them instead, making a more sofisticated sushi.

    Try it someday! πŸ™‚

  4. niki -

    ok allison this may sound stupid but i just can’t get a handle on how to roll the maki sushi? How do you roll it without getting the mat stuck underneath? Can you tell im new to this but sooooo willing and wanting to try.

  5. lisalisa -

    Quick question: Is sushi served cold, hot, or room temp? Maybe it varies from recipe to recipe? Thanks!

  6. Allison -

    It varies. Those with raw fish are typically cold, so the fish doesn’t go bad, while those that are tempura fried are usually warm. It generally depends on what ingredients are being used in the sushi, since some need to stay cold and others are better warm or hot.

  7. Carlo -

    wow! i was just checking out your site. where do you get all those ingredients!? the recipes all look so good..im really currous as to what i’d find sitting in your fridge! hehe..

    (anyway stumbled on to your site while i was looking for instructions how to make good sushi rice–something im really having difficulty with.)

  8. Regina -

    I check into your site from time to time. I enjoy reading your posts as well and the readers. My husband and I are HUGE sushi fans. I get the craving at least once a month to just go and eat a huge platter!!! However, since the price of gas and food has gone up so much, I have to behave and we had to stop spending $70 at a time on sushi. We live in Raleigh NC and just moved here from the coast of NC. We decided that we could make sushi at home and are testing out all kinds of things! (and its going well and saving money!) I want to leave a post on here about the BEST sushi we have ever eaten. I would love to make what we do at home the exact way they do, however I know I dont have all the secrets. We have eaten at sushi bars all over the US, and tried all types of rolls. This place beats anything we have ever had! Its a really small private owned bar in a small strip mall in Raleigh NC. Im sending the link to for people to take a look at the sushi bar menu. It has photos and the make up of each roll. If you can duplicate any of them it is worth the shot! Try the Screaming O roll, and the Mt. Fuji. And if anyone that reads on your sight is ever in the Raleigh area, I highly recommend this place. I promise you will think its the best ever!!!!


  9. Katie -

    Just a comment to Regina (not sure if you’ll see this since you posted awhile ago)– I live a ways south of Raleigh (in Fayetteville), but my husband and I routinely drive up to Durham to eat at Shiki Sushi, another amazing sushi bar in the area. I’ve never tried Hayashi, but your post has convinced me to give it a try! And if you’re up for a bit of competition, you should definitely check out Shiki– If it wasn’t a Monday night, I’d make the hour and a half drive up there right now to get some. It’s THAT good!

    We want to start trying to make it at home as well. I was hoping to find a class in Raleigh, but so far haven’t had any luck! I guess we’ll have to settle for the internet and lots of experimentation!

  10. Regina -

    Well I would never point you in the wrong way with that place! I love it! But just be sure to try that Screaming O roll. You will thank me later! And my friend mentioned Shiki- Im moving to Briar Creek next month so I plan on trying that. And by the way try not to go to Hayashi on a Friday. Its small and you will wait. As for the stuff we try at home, we look at all the fusion roll examples we find. And we have tried all kinds of sauces we make. Its fun to do! And who knew my husband could make perfect rolls. We normally purchase our tuna from Lowes or Whole Foods. Good luck and let me know what you think when you try that place!

  11. Allison -

    Carlo – Thanks! Most of the ingredients I use are fairly common, and can be found at normal grocery stores. Those that are more exotic are usually from Japanese supermarkets, like Mitsuwa or Marukai. Or if you don’t have a Japanese supermarket near you, I believe a lot of the supplies and ingredients can be ordered online.

    Regina and Katie – Thanks, if I’m ever in that area I’ll definitely have to try both Hayashi and Shiki! πŸ™‚

  12. Sierra -

    Hi, I LOVE making sushi too and am loving some your your recipes. thank you!
    One question; i always use japanese mayo for my sauce but in all your recipes it just says mayo. Can i use regular mayo (like kraft) for the sauces? Its a lot cheaper.

  13. Sheila S -

    I have the hardest time getting people to try sushi until I tell them that it does not mean you have to eat raw fish. Sushi is about the rice. (Although originally meant for fish preservation). I tell them its like ordering pasta – pasta is the base like sushi rice is and then you can put whatever your heart desires on top of that. YUM. Personally I love the raw fish and just discovered scallops but I have even made it with BBQ chicken. P.S. What is the deal with BBQ eel? Why can’t you find it in the stores anymore?

  14. Allison -

    Sierra – I always use regular mayo – I use Best Foods, but I’ve also used Miracle Whip when I’ve been visiting friends and that’s all they had. Both work well enough. πŸ™‚

    Sheila – Exactly! πŸ™‚ Hm, I’m not sure about the unagi… I haven’t really noticed it being hard to find, but at the same time I’ve been avoiding using it at home since it’s not sustainable (plus, I like my fake version of unagi even better, if I do say so myself. πŸ˜€ )

  15. Sierra N -

    sushi sucks: Why you gotta say that?

    Allison: I enjoy making sushi too! However, after making inside-out rolls, its difficult to clean my bamboo mat from all the little pieces of rice that get stuck inside. Do you have a secret to easily cleaning these mats? Or do you have a separate mat for when you roll sushi with rice on the outside? Thanks!

  16. Allison -

    Sierra – Thank you! These days I put my sushi mat inside of a gallon-sized ziplock every time I roll sushi. That way my bamboo mat never gets dirty, and it’s easy to wash (or toss) the ziplock when you’re done with it. πŸ™‚