Save - spend life happy

spend life happy

SaveRecipes & Dining The Sushi Guide: What Beginners Should Know

The Sushi Guide: What Beginners Should Know

Want to get into sushi, but don’t know where to begin? Check out this guide to sushi types, safety, and more from Save!

The Sushi Guide: What Beginners Should Know

Clueless when it comes to sushi? Maybe you're curious but have no idea what you’re looking at. Maybe you tried California rolls and now you want to branch out. Either way, sushi can be a pretty complex topic. So let’s break it down as we look at different Japanese sushi types, safety considerations, and tips for eating it like a pro.

Sashimi vs. Sushi

Sashimi is often referred to as a type of sushi, but it’s actually a completely different item. Sashimi is meat or seafood over daikon or another garnish, without any rice. Sushi refers to any dish made with sushi rice. Still, you might order both sashimi and sushi at the same meal, so it’s helpful to know what you’re getting.

Types of sushi

There are five basic sushi types, classified according to how they’re prepared:

  • Maki, or sushi rolls. This is what most beginners know about. You might see thin rolls or thick rolls, with the seaweed (nori) inside or out, and a whole range of possible ingredients. But if it’s rolled, it’s Maki.
  • Nigiri. Nigiri is sushi rice pressed into a rectangle and topped with seafood or another component, and often with wasabi.
  • Chirashi. Remember those viral sushi bowls that were so popular on TikTok? It wasn't just a modern trend, but a new variation on an ancient dish. “Scattered sushi” is basically a bowl of sushi rice with a bunch of toppings that might include seafood, meat, vegetables or tofu.
  • Inari. This is simply sushi rice stuffed in a deep-fried tofu shell.
  • Oshi. This fancy presentation consists of sushi rice and toppings formed in a mold and then cut into rectangles or squares.

What is sushi rice?

 It’s very different from other kinds of rice. All Japanese chefs have their own secrets for making the perfect sushi rice. But at its heart, sushi rice consists of premium short-grain white rice, rice vinegar, salt, and sugar.

Sushi safety

Since the majority of sushi contains raw fish, there is always the possibility of foodborne illness. You can reduce your risks by choosing high-quality, highly rated sushi restaurants. Supermarket sushi is generally considered safe, but you should always eat it the day you buy it and throw out anything that smells fishy or looks discolored.

If you’re generally healthy, you can safely eat about two raw fish meals per week. More than that, you risk consuming too much mercury and other toxins. If you have underlying health conditions, it’s safer to stick to cooked varieties of sushi.

Tips for eating sushi

  • Use chopsticks or fingers. Really. Traditionally, sashimi should only be eaten with chopsticks, but no one minds if you use your fingers for sushi. In Japan, it's actually preferred to eat nigiri and rolls with your fingers. 
  • Eat the whole piece at once. Properly prepared sushi is bite-sized. Dip in soy sauce (and wasabi if you're feelin' spicy) and put the whole thing in your mouth.
  • Nigiri goes meat side down. It’s served meat side up, but turn it over before eating so the meat flavor isn’t lost in the rice.
  • Have a slice of ginger and a sip of your drink. Ginger and traditional beverages are palate cleansers. So have a bit of both between each piece of sushi.

Sushi may look intimidating, but it’s actually pretty simple. Learn the five types, decide which ingredients you enjoy, and then dig in.

Save money with deals from Save

Starting your sushi journey can be easy and inexpensive. With the Save mailer, you’ll receive weekly coupons on a variety of restaurants and groceries, as well as all the everyday essentials you love. Be sure to check your weekly Save mailer for savings on some of the best new grocery items!