The Beginner’s Guide to Sushi

Sushi has started to become increasingly popular every single day, and believe me when I say that once you have tried it, you just keep craving it again and again. However, if you have never tried sushi before and are afraid to, then this guide will help you ease into it and just let you know the complete basics to everything you need to know.

Before I had sushi for the first time, I was honestly cautious about trying it because of obviously the raw fish. Especially coming from an Indian family where my mother cooks the complete life out of every single meat.

The Types of Sushi:

First of all, sushi itself actually means “vinegar-flavoured cold rice with a garnish” but there are different types.

  • SASHIMI – This is the most basic and most traditional style of sushi. And the scariest. This is just the slices of the raw fish and that’s it, and this allows you to be able to fully experience and enjoy the taste of the fish. This is not sushi as it doesn’t include rice but it will usually still be served at many sushi restaurants.
  • NIGIRI – This is the slices of the fish on top of small rolls of rice, so it’s a lot more filling compared to sashimi. However, nigiri can also include some cooked fish (explained further below) as well as fish eggs, egg omelette, and even some vegetables.
  • MAKI ROLLS – This is a more westernised version of sushi and it’s the best thing to try for your first sushi experience if you are slightly afraid to try it, and there are a lot of different varieties which include pretty much anything. These will include the fillings wrapped with nori (seaweed) and rice.
    • I would recommend the California Roll as your first one as this doesn’t have any raw fish and it is just cooked crab with avocado and cucumber. Personally, I really love any sort of Tempura Rolls because of the crunchy fried texture.


The chumaki is not often heard of and will usually be called hosomaki or just maki roll instead.

Fish and Fillings:

In the table below, I have included a list of some common types of raw fish as well as other types of fillings. This is to help you get started if you decide that you would like to try sashimi or nigiri, as well as to understand the Japanese words that may be on some menus.

Tuna Ahi/Maguro Very popular, best raw fish for your first time
Salmon Sake Very popular raw fish
Eel Unagi Barbecued
Tiger Shrimp Ebi Cooked, usually served as sashimi or nigiri
Sweet Shrimp Ama Ebi Raw
Yellow Tail Hamachi Raw
Mackerel Saba Raw
Squid Ika The body of the squid is raw
Octopus Tako Raw
Sea Bass Suzuki Raw
Scallop Hotate Raw but can be seared
Egg Tamago Cooked sweet omelette
Avocado Usually in rolls
Cucumber Kappa Usually in rolls
Tofu Inari Fried, usually in rolls or as nigiri

Along with your sushi, there will usually be 3 main types of condiments served with them.

sushi-599721_960_720The first will be soy sauce. This will usually be for the sashimi and nigiri, but for your rolls if you want to as well. When dipping the nigiri, make sure that you dip only the fish side of the nigiri into the soy sauce. If you dip the rice into it, the rice will lose its shape and start to fall apart.

The second is the wasabi. This will be a green paste that is extremely hot so be cautious when using it. Most restaurants usually serve a fake type of wasabi (horseradish) because the real wasabi is only grown in Japan and it can be very expensive. Some people may mix wasabi into their soy sauce but it is completely up to you.

Lastly, there will also be some pickled ginger which is served in thin slices. This acts as a palate cleanser and you should take a bite between each type of different fish.

If I have to give you one piece of important advice, I would just recommend that you try everything to see what you like and dislike. This is the only full-proof method of finding out if you like sushi, just certain types of it, or not at all. No one else can tell you what is good or bad since everyone has different tastes, so just be very open minded and even close your eyes if you have to whilst tasting it.

I would also like to tell you that you don’t have to feel restricted by the traditional Japanese etiquette of eating sushi, such as the specific way to hold chopsticks or how you should be eating it. At the end of the day, you just need to eat the way you feel comfortable because you are the one who is eating it and it should be an enjoyable experience!

So hopefully this has given you some sort of insight into the world of sushi and helped you to understand it a little more. If you do manage to try it, be sure to tell me how your experience was and if you had any favourites.

Until next time, thank you for reading! ♥


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