May 20, 2017

What Does Sushi Taste Like? An Amateur’s First Great Bite

What Does Sushi Taste Like

If you’re always thinking of trying sushi out, but you can’t bring yourself to do it because you’re afraid it tastes bad or you’re just not a fan of Japanese food, starting out on the right kind of sushi is important. Most people ask, “what does sushi taste like?

That question, my friends, is hard to answer. The sushi industry is rather broad and vague. As a matter of fact, a raw fish wrapped in seaweed doesn’t qualify as sushi.


Your first taste of sushi may not be very pleasant. It’s so much different from the usual American taste. It’s raw, tangy, and it has a weird texture. I almost threw up the first time I tasted it when I was a kid!

But you know what? You’ll likely appreciate healthy and raw food more as you age. So going back, sushi can take different forms and names. Also, the ingredients used in each one of them may or may not be found in another.

What Does Sushi Taste Like

My only tip when eating sushi the first time is to be choosy. Find something that you’ll at least like to give it a fair try.

Once you found something you like, you’ll be accustomed to its taste and most likely, you’ll begin trying out other sushi varieties. The endpoint is, you’ll find a particular sushi that you’ll absolutely love.

Before everything else, I’ll first walk you through the basics – what is sushi and what are the different kinds of sushi.


What Does Sushi Taste Like

The traditional Japanese sushi is made of vinegared rice, referred to as “shari” or “sumeshi”, topped with other ingredients such as vegetables, seafood, and meat (usually fish).

Tropical fruit slices such as mango and peach are also added. Sushi is often served accompanied by wasabi, soy sauce, radish, or pickled ginger.

What Does Sushi Taste Like

Sashimi isn’t sushi!

Sashimi is another popular Japanese food often confused with sushi. Thin slices of raw fish or meat make a sashimi. Most of the time, meats aren't accompanied by rice, differentiating it from sushi wherein rice is the key ingredient.



What Does Sushi Taste Like

Nigiri is the hand-pressed sushi. It’s the basic type which only features the thin slab of carefully sliced meat topped over rice. The fish topping can be fresh tuna, eel, shrimp, or octopus. The fish can either be raw, grilled, or delicately fried like a tempura.

The highlight of this sushi is the topping, so elite sushi restaurants normally use fish of the highest quality. Sometimes, a strip of toasted seaweed is used to bind the fish and rice.

Makizushi (Maki Roll)

What Does Sushi Taste Like

The Makizushi is the usually rolled sushi we see at Japanese restaurants. Rice, fish, fruit slices and cucumber are rolled together using a makisu or bamboo mat then wrapped with nori (seaweed sheet), thin omelet or soy paper.


What Does Sushi Taste Like

Inarizushi are rarely found at restaurants. They can be bought at supermarket delis and Japanese groceries. Inarizushi are typically rice balls stuffed with vegetables such as carrots and mushrooms wrapped in tofu skin pouches or aburaage.

If you’re not into raw fishes, this sushi is a great alternative.

Temaki Sushi

What Does Sushi Taste Like

Temaki Sushi are cone-shaped and longer than most sushi. It has the same ingredients as the Makizushi but it has way more nori on the outside. It’s designed to be eaten with fingers.

The sushi types above are just the common ones. The sushi industry has developed from its humble beginnings back from the early Japanese era to the modern times where sushi are modified to fit the westerner’s taste.


What Does Sushi Taste Like

Sushi generally has a tangy taste due to the vinegared rice. Apart from it, the second thing that gives sushi a distinct taste is the fish topping. Salmon, tuna, and eel have a very light flavor while octopus has a stronger flavor. I won’t really recommend eating an octopus-topped sushi for first-timers.

Tropical fruits slices such as ripe mango and peach added to the sushi also give a subtle sweet and sour taste which balances the fishy taste. Lastly, the sweet soy sauce where the sushi is dipped gives a sweet yet salty finish to the sushi.


What Does Sushi Taste Like

Maki Rolls are a favorite of people of all ages- from kids to adults. Maki stuffed with crab meat are the best! I’m quite sure you’ve tried eating crab for once in your life so a maki roll wouldn’t be that intimidating as compared to raw fish. Maki also have relatively less nori used so it would be good for people who are apprehensive about eating seaweed.

If you really can’t bring yourself to eating crab or fish wrapped in nori, the Inarizushi would be the best option. It’s only made up of rice and veggies plus a tofu covering. It’s also cooked deep-fried, so kids will surely love it too.

Going back to the question, “what does sushi taste like?”, the taste of sushi primarily depends on the topping used. The vinegared rice plus the other ingredients also contribute to the overall taste. Also, the taste differs from one kind of sushi to another.

The key is to start out on the mild ones like Maki and Inarizushi before moving to the real thing, the Nigiri. It also helps to appreciate the distinct tastes of the various sushi ingredients that are new to the tongue. Appreciation is the key to enjoying sushi!

Hey there! Have you had your sushi fix yet? Have you tried making sushi on your own? What’s your favorite sushi? We’d love to hear your thoughts below! Oh, another thing, will you share this article please? Cheers!

    Jade Evans

    Hi there, I’m Jade, a person passionate about cooking and all things food-related. My kitchen inspirations were my mother and grandmother who have always regarded cooking as an art. As a mother of two daughters, I find it hard to keep up with my cooking sometimes, so I sought the help of other food bloggers to curate fantastic and hearty dishes for you, my readers. This blog chronicles my food ventures, original recipes, and cooking tips to inspire and ignite the inner foodie in you.

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