If you’ve ever been to a sushi bar, you’ve no doubt seen the impressive variety of fish available to try. From mild white fish to popular red fish, there are many different flavors and types to choose from. Not sure where to begin? Explore our comprehensive guide to find out more about the wide range of sushi that is available at most sushi restaurants.
Newcomers to the sushi scene are likely to gravitate toward shiromi, or white fish. This is because it has a subtle and approachable flavor profile that serves as a great gateway to the world of sushi. Shiromi fish are typically less fatty than red fish, making them a leaner choice to try. Common varieties of shiromi include sea bream, flounder, perch, mackerel, and jack. The light, sweet flavor of shiromi sushi makes it the perfect starter fish to introduce your friends and family to the wonderful array of sushi options.
A popular and more complex variety, akami is sushi with red fish. Akami is the perfect choice if you’re looking for something more fatty and flavorful, with hints of sweetness and saltiness combining to please your palate. The most widely available type of akami is tuna. Even within the tuna family, you will find a variety of sushi types to explore. For example, bluefin tuna is extremely rare, expensive, and fatty, while bigeye tuna has more muscle and makes great sashimi.
Another popular and flavorful akami sushi is salmon, with its meaty texture and striped red or orange appearance. Salmon is also the perfect sashimi ingredient, as it holds its shape very well when sliced.
Looking for something a bit more unique? Try hikarimono, or sushi that comes complete with silver skin. This type of sushi demands a bit more preparation and preservation, as the skin makes it lose freshness more quickly. Therefore, you may find hikarimono slightly saltier and less fishy than its counterparts. Common types of sushi that are hikarimono style include mackerel, shad, sillago, halfbeak, pilchard, and saury. The perfect topping for most hikarimono is chopped green onion and freshly grated ginger, which both complement the flavors excellently.
People worldwide love this type of sushi for a long time. Its chewier texture and sweet flavor make it another approachable type of sushi for newcomers, and it includes familiar fish like crab and mussels. Many shellfish, like abalone and soft-shell crab, are also prepared through steaming or boiling, so those who are wary of trying raw fish can rest assured their food is fully cooked. A particularly popular type of shellfish sushi is scallops, with their melt-in-your mouth texture and sweet flavor. You may also find shrimp, or ebi, on the menu. Sushi chef prepare some shrimp sushi raw, while they cook other varieties before serving, making it a truly versatile ingredient. Kani, or crab, is available year-round and can be boiled, shredded, or even made into a dressing!
Other Sushi Types
Now, we come to the most exciting and adventurous forms of sushi! If you’ve already made the rounds through shiromi, akami, hikarimono, and shellfish, you’re ready for these unique sushi ingredients.
Up first is uni, or sea urchin. Uni might look a bit strange, but it is a Japanese delicacy — and one bite of it will certainly tell you why. It is sweet, unbelievably soft, and rich. Next, we have ikura, or salmon roe. These unfertilized salmon eggs are like joyful little bubbles that pop juicily in your mouth when you bite into them. Chefs typically pickle them in a sweet soy sauce and wrap them in nori seaweed for an easy-to-eat package. Tobiko, or flying fish roe, is another popular and unusual form of sushi that is widely popular in Japan. Tiny, pickled, and more yellow than salmon roe, tobiko is a tasty sushi ingredient that more adventurous eaters should try.
Another popular sushi fish that you may be surprised to find is an eel, whether saltwater or freshwater. Fluffy and sweet, eel sushi is typically topped with a savory dressing or broiled in a type of soy sauce. Squid and octopus are also popular sushi ingredients. While their chewier texture may be a bit surprising, their slightly sweet flavor will soon win you over.
If you thought all sushi was made with fish, think again — we also have tamago, an egg. It is widely believed that you can assess the true skill of a sushi chef by their preparation of the egg, cooked with dashi stock, soy sauce, and other ingredients. Use tamago as a palate cleanser or have a bite for dessert, and you won’t regret the decision!