Until someone asked me the question, it never occurred to me to count how many types of sushi are there. I grew up in Japan, and like most of the Japanese, I knew Nigiri, rolls, oshi (pressed), chirashi and other types of sushi. I have eaten them. I know how they look and what they taste like. I took it for granted. I paused and thought about the question for a minute or two and realized it was a great opportunity for me to learn. Indeed, there were some sushi I did not know existed before I started my research.
The following is a list I put together. It is nothing “official.” As always, I welcome your feedback. Please let me know by leaving a comment on this article or sending me an email (you will find it at the bottom of this article).
(Writer’s Note: When the word “sushi” is used with other words like Nigiri, the “su” sound becomes “zu” in Japanese. That is why it’s called Nigiri•Zushi instead of Nigiri•Sushi, as they are called in the US and some parts of the world.)
1. Nigiri•Zushi, 握り寿司
A piece of fish, vegetable, or meat on top of sushi rice — invented initially as bite-sized finger food served at a Sushi Stand about 200 years ago in Tokyo. It’s what the Japanese think of when they say sushi.
Sushi rice and ingredients are wrapped with Nori Seaweed. Contrary to Nigiri, Rolls are what most Americans think when they say sushi.
The following variations are available:
Hoso•Maki/Thin Roll, Nori Out
Chu•Maki/Medium Roll, Nori Out
Futo•Maki/Thick Roll, Nori Out
Ura•Maki/Rice Out, Inside Out Roll such as California Roll and Rainbow Roll
Te•Maki/Hand Roll, ice cream cone-shaped roll, Nori outside
Date•Maki伊達巻寿司, Nori Seaweed out roll wrapped with Egg
3. Chirashi•Zushi ちらし寿司
Fish and or vegetables spread over sushi rice typically served in a bowl or a lacquerware round bowl.
Variation of chirashi, mainly vegetables.
4. Oshi•Zushi/Pressed Sushi 押し寿司
Oshi means to press. Sushi rice and fish are placed inside of a mold firmly pressed to form rectangular shape sushi. The mold is made of wood a and you can find plastic ones as well. Oshi Zushi is generally recognized as Kansai/Western-style sushi. Battera is one of the most known variations. When I think of Oshizushi, I usually think of fish, but there are non-fish oshizushi these days with cooked egg, cucumber and other vegetables.
Other variations include:
Aji•Oshi•Zushi (Spanish Mackerel)
Kagoshima regional sushi resembling Oshi•Zushi. It uses sake to season rice instead of vinegar.
5. Nare•Zushi なれ寿司
Before Nigiri was invented, Nare•Zushi was the only form of sushi. This is as close as you can get to the original form of sushi that came from South East Asia. Fish is gutted, washed and preserved in salt for several weeks to months with rice inside the belly. During the fermentation process, the fish starts to produce very “foul” odor and as such, it’s a delicacy just like some strong-smelling types of cheese.
6. Mushi•Zushi 蒸し寿司
It’s a regional style of cooked sushi originated in Osaka, Kyoto and served in some other regions west of Osaka, typically during the winter months from December to March.
Anago Mushi Zushi Akazawa
As it’s a “very” regional dish, if you ask any Japanese, it’s likely that they have never heard of or seen this sushi, unless of course, they are from the Osaka and Kyoto region. I learned about this dish only a few years ago.
Mushi•Zushi comes in either a bowl or a bamboo steamer, with such fish as Anago (sea eel), Unagi (freshwater eel), Shrimp, and white fish like tai snapper — with shitake mushroom and cooked, shredded egg over sushi rice.
If you know Chirashi•Zuzhi (fish and vegetables over sushi rice), Mushi•Zushi is a (kind of) steamed version of Chirashi.
The recipe is quite simple — just place any kind of fish and vegetables (pre-cooked) over sushi rice and steam until the fish is cooked.
Here are some pictures of Mushi•Zushi with various fish toppings.
This one is with Shrimp, Shitake Mushroom, Lotus Root, Carrots and Shredded Egg.
7. Temari•Zushi 手毬寿司
Ball-shaped sushi, traditionally served on March 3: Girl’s Day in Japan, or to celebrate a special occasion.
8. Chakin•Zushi 茶巾寿司
Sushi rice wrapped with a thin layer of egg crepe.
9. Kakinoha•Zushi/Persimmon Leaf Sushi 柿の葉寿司
Rectangular osshi•zushi like sushi is wrapped with persimmon leaf. A regional style unique to Nara, Wakayama and Ishikawa Prefecture.
10. Mehari Sushi めはり寿司
Regional dish in the Kumano Region between Wakayama and Mie prefecture. It actually is a rice ball wrapped with leaf. However, some use sushi rice.
11. Creative Sushi/ 創作寿司
Sushi Pizza — I started to see this in LA around 2002 (this does not mean it did not exist before that, I’m sure it did). The one I saw had spicy tuna on baked sushi rice. The idea, I believe, came from Yaki•Onigiri (baked/grilled rice ball). Japanese enjoy crispy cooked rice, and someone thought to put rice on a sheet of nori seaweed and bake it to make it resemble pizza crust, thus calling Sushi Pizza.
12. Decorative Sushi 飾り寿司
Most decorative sushi uses colored sushi rice and little vegetable and fish. It is served mainly for a special occasion.
Originally posted on Quora.
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