Sushi and sashimi are both Japanese dishes but distinctly different. Sushi is fish or seafood, often raw but sometimes cooked, served with rice in wraps or rolls (maki) or on top of mounds of rice (nigiri). Sashimi is simply the raw fish served alone.
Here is a list of common sashimi and sushi menu items and their descriptions.
Fish – Sashimi
Tuna – raw tuna. This is one the most popular raw fish items. Maguro is brightly colored with a soft, creamy texture. It has a meaty flavor making it perfect to pair with spicy sauces.
Tuna – fatty belly part. This part of the tuna is lighter in color than maguro. It is very rich and very tender, and typically more expensive.
Tuna – albacore. This is the white meat tuna, and is the same variety as the canned albacore tuna. The color ranges from light pink to dark pink depending on the fish and is very soft in raw form.
Yellowtail. This is also known as ‘amberjack’ and has a golden color. Hamachi makes a striking contrast when paired with raw tuna. It is mild flavored.
Bonito – skipjack tuna. Bonito’s flesh is dark colored with a rich flavor, sometimes stronger than tuna depending on the season and the fish.
Salmon. Raw salmon is easily identifible with its orange or orange-red color, which is another fish that contrasts nicely with other varieties.
Red snapper – porgy. It’s flesh is light pink with a mild flavor. Like its cooked version, raw red snapper is very sweet.
Halibut. Even though halibut is a white fleshed fish and cooks up very white, in the raw form the flesh may be white, cream, or light pink in color.
Sea bass. White fish with nice, fat flakes, this is a mild flavored fish.
Mackerel. This is a strongly flavored fish that is often marinated. While in the tuna family, mackerel has a stronger flavor it still has the soft texture of tuna.
Herring – Japanese shad. Often left with the skin on as garnish, it is often marinated. The skin is sometimes cross-hatched (sliced in an X pattern) or sliced at a diagonal in slashes showing a bit of the flesh through the skin. The flesh is white and has a strong flavor.
Freshwater eel. Unagi is typically precooked by grilling or simmering.
Marine eel or saltwater eel. Served the same manner as unagi, but the meat is much leaner.
Octopus. Tako is most commonly prepared by precooking and slicing the tentacles. It is white on the inside and dark burgundy on the outside. Cooking helps to tenderize the meat which can be very chewy if not prepared correctly.
Squid. Squid is all white, and is served either raw (sashimi) or cooked by grilling, simmering or in tempura.
Shellfish includes crabs, shrimp, univalves and bivalves, and other sea creatures.
Pepitona clam or red clam. Strong flavored with a red colored flesh.
Japanese red clam / surf or round clam. Sweet flavored flesh.
Abalone. Used as sashimi (raw) or in sushi (cooked by steaming, simmering, etc.).
Ebi / Amaebi
Shrimp / prawns. Ebi is the term for cooked shrimp in sushi. Amaebi (spot prawn) is served raw, and is very sweet in flavor.
Kaibashira / Kobashira
Scallops, or abductor muscles from bivalves. Kaibashira typically refers to larger scallops and Kobashira refers to tiny scallops, but the menu item may not involve actual scallops at all and may come from other bivalves.
Real crab meat (not surimi or imitation crab). Kani is always cooked before serving.
Geoduck clam. Served thinly sliced, it has a strong flavor.
Japanese cockle. This is a seasonal item, and the meat is mild in flavor.
Sea urchin. Uni is sea urchin gonads. It is creamy in texture with a unique, briny flavor.
Fish roe, or fish eggs, adds color, flavor, and texture to sushi dishes and sashimi plates.
Salmon roe. Large orange-red roe, resembling tiny colored marbles.
Herring roe. This roe is typically marinated and served whole as nigrizushi (hand formed). It has a golden color.
Capelin roe. Very similar in appearance to tobiko but cheaper and less distinct in flavor.
Flying fish roe. Very common and very colorful. Tobiko is bright orange and firm in texture making it a nice complement to both sushi rolls and sashimi. While usually always bright orange in color, tobiko can also be colored black (squid ink), green (wasabi), or red (beets).