Sushi 101

If temaki is still as foreign to you as Tokyo, read on. We tell you all about raw fish and rolls, seaweed and sashimi — everything you need to know to become a sushi sophisticate

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The Basics

Maki sushi rolls


This popular form of sushi is what many people first think of when hearing the word “sushi.” Maki, or “rolled,” sushi consists of fish and/or vegetables rolled in rice and seaweed. The roll is cut into eight pieces before serving. Diners have the choice of cooked or uncooked maki; the popular California roll (crab, avocado, and cucumber) is an example of cooked maki. The shrimp tempura (deep-fried shrimp) roll is another frequent choice among first-timers. Kerry Hannifan, general manager of Middletown’s Blue Finn Grill and Sushi, highly suggests cooked sushi for newbies. “We usually like to start people off with something that’s cooked, because raw fish makes some people pretty leery,” he says. “Our Volcano roll (a deep-fried roll with shrimp, cream cheese, and Japanese pickles) is a good way to lead people to other types, since everything is cooked and it’s kind of a comfort food.” Popular uncooked rolls include the Spicy Tuna roll (mild tuna, spicy mayo, and avocado) and the Philly roll (smoked salmon and cream cheese).

Nigiri sushi


Most often served in pairs, this common form of sushi consists of an oblong mound of rice pressed loosely between the hands and topped with a slice of fish. Some types of fish, such as eel, may be bound to the rice with a thin strip of nori, or edible seaweed. A small pearl of wasabi is often placed between the rice and the fish. Popular forms of nigiri include ebi (boiled shrimp) and yellowtail or albacore tuna, which are milder than others. The more adventurous may want to try octopus or squid.

Temaki sushi


Meaning “hand rolls,” temaki is a cone-shaped piece of nori filled with sushi rice, fish, and vegetables. Many find the taste very similar to that of maki. Temaki must be eaten fairly quickly: the moisture in the filling causes the nori cone to lose its crispness.

Sashimi sushi


Typically the highest quality fish that you can get off the menu, sashimi is raw fish served sliced, and as-is — no vegetables or sauces added. Sashimi can also be served atop a bowl of rice (known as chirashi sushi). Hannifan suggests that sushi newbies try sashimi menu items that end in “tataki,” meaning “seared.” This technique of lightly cooking the fish makes it slightly firmer, adds a grilled flavor, and takes away some of the raw texture that makes many people shy away from this flavorful choice.

"A Sushi Primer" logo

Served uncooked; popular with those
new to sushi

Tuna sushiYellowtail sushi

Related to pompano;
rich but mild flavor

This flounder-type fish has a mild but sweet taste

Fluke sushiSalmon sushi

Smoked salmon with cream cheese is a
popular roll

Used for nigiri; the fish
is based with teriyaki

BBQ Eel sushi"Rock & Roll" signature sushi roll by Amici Chef Makio Idesako

Sushi Chef Makio  Idesako’s specialty roll features caviar



Next: Sushi Q&A »


Did you know...?

The Hudson Valley is jam-packed with great sushi joints! Dig in to our Web Exclusive, “Ready to Roll,” to find out where they are.


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