Cooking Guide

Sushi Savvy Guide To Japanese Culinary Terminology


Alaskan sockeye salmon might be the English term for, well, Alaskan sockeye salmon, but the world of Japanese cuisine is popular, delicious, and has a lexicon of its own. We aren't here to break down the complexities of Japanese culinary etymology, but to help get a firmer grasp on the terms that'll make you defter when navigating the menu at the sushi bar.


Put the grass fed steaks and free range pork on the back-burner for a few minutes while we hop into the sea.


Sushi: The term sushi is applied to the overarching Japanese culinary tradition. Sushi translates to "seasoned rice" and goes back to times of yore when fish was packed with vinegar and rice to help preserve it for longer periods of time.


Sashimi: Part of the sushi tradition, sashimi is raw sliced fish served without rice or seaweed wrap. Raw fish, by itself, nothing extra.


Nigiri: The next step beyond sashimi is nigiri. The raw fish slice is placed atop an oval-shaped ball of rice and served with that tiny bit of carbohydrate.


Maki: Maki translates literally to "roll". The most commonly consumed and seen type of sushi in the United States, maki generally consists of fish, veggies, and other fillings surrounded by rice, all wrapped in a dried seaweed exterior.


Nori, Gari, Wasabi: These are some of the accoutrements served traditionally with sushi dishes. Wasabi is a green paste known as Japanese horseradish. Very strongly flavored, it's a real sinus clearer. Nori is the dried seaweed that's commonly used to wrap around sushi rolls. Gari is sliced ginger. Naturally sweet, but not without intense flavor, gari is used as a palate cleanser between bites of sushi.


Omakase: This is the Japanese equivalent of the chef's choice. It's translated as "you choose" and when the word is said to the chef, you're bidding them make the choice for you. Then they'll craft a dish based on the daily offerings, your taste preferences, and their own creative choice. A word to the wise, if you're not a bold fish eater or are new to a sushi restaurant, it's very important to make your likes and dislikes abundantly clear to the chef. This way they'll get to know you, your tastes, and what to make when you give them the choice.


Alaskan sockeye salmon season is around the corner, but you'll find that and more at your sushi bar. We've only scratched the surface of a culinary tradition that's rooted in a lengthy history of culture and deliciousness. When you're considering boosting grass fed beef sales above its measly 3 percent don't forget about fish. Stop by the sushi bar, flex your newfound fish muscles and try something out of the ordinary, you never know what you might find, like, and learn.