Sushi Terms Glossary

When learning to make or order sushi at a sushi bar, you may be bombarded with quite a few unfamiliar terms. Here is a glossary of sushi related terms and definitions, which will help serve as a guide to the Japanese dish. Navigate the glossary by letter using the links below.

Sushi Related Terms: (Arrow icon Sushi Image indicates sushi photo in right column.)

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aburage fried tofu pouches made by cooking in sweet cooking sake, soy sauce, and water.
aemono vegetables or meats mixed with a dressing or sauce.
agari green tea.
agemono foods friend in deep-fat or pan-fried.
aji spanish mackerel, horse mackerel. Sushi Image
aji-no-moto monosodium glutamate (MSG).
aji-no-tataki fresh spanish mackerel.
aka miso red soy bean paste.
akagai red clam or ark shell. Sushi Image
akami lean tuna, cut from the back of the fish. see also maguro.
ama-ebi sweet shrimp, usually served raw. Sushi Image
an sweetened puree of cooked red beans.
ana-kyu-maki conger eel and cucumber rolls.
anago conger eel (saltwater). see also unagi. Sushi Image
ankimo monkfish liver.
anko-nabe monkfish stew.
aoyagi yellow round clam. Sushi Image
asari short-necked clam.
awabi abalone. Sushi Image
ayu sweetfish.
azuki small red beans used to make an.
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baigai small water snails.
bamboo shoots bought, sliced or whole.
bara sushi sushi rice and ingredients mixed together, as a rice salad. regional to Kansai.
basashi horse sashimi.
battera-zushi Osaka-style oshi-zushi topped with shime-saba.
beni shoga red pickled ginger.
biiru beer.
bonito English word for the Japanese katsuo.
bulgogi a Korean style marinated beef dish.
buri adult yellowtail (see hamachi and inada).
buta pork.
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california roll crab meat (or imitation crab), smelt or flying fish roe, avocado.
chakin-zushi vinegared rice wrapped in a thin egg crepe.
chikuwa browned fish cake with a hole running through its length.
chirashi-zushi bed of sushi rice with other ingredients mixed on top.
chutoro medium fatty tuna, from the upper belly. see also toro and otoro.
chutoro-maki marbled-tuna roll.
chuutoro semi fatty tuna.
cloud ears alternate name for kikurage.
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daikon giant, long white radish. sweeter than round, red radishes.
dashi basic soup and cooking stock made with kombu and katsuoboshi.
dashimaki see tamago.
doburoku sort of a thick, soupy sake.
donburi large bowl for noodle and rice dishes.
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ebi boiled shrimp. see also ama ebi. Sushi Image
edamame soybeans, served in the pod as an appetizer.
edomae-zushi same as nigiri-zushi.
engawa halibut fin muscle; meat surrounding the scallop muscle.
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fugu blowfish. toxic if improperly prepared!
fugu-chiri cooked, sliced raw fugu meat in a stewpan. blowfish soup.
fuki a fibrous vegetable often simmered in broth.
fukusa sushi a type of sushi which is wrapped in a crepe.
funamori boat wrap, an alternate name for kakomi sushi.
futo-maki a fat roll filled with rice, sweetened cooked egg, pickled gourd, and bits of vegetables. Sushi Image
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gari pickled (with vinegar) ginger. Sushi Image
geoduck mirugai, in the American Pacific Northwest.
geso squid legs.
geta wooden block used at a sushi bar as a plate.
gobo long, slender burdock root.
gohan plain boiled rice.
goma sesame seeds.
gomoku sushi alternate name for chirashi-sushi.
gunkan same as maki-mono.
gunkan maki battleship roll, an alternate name for kakomi sushi.
gyoza stuffed wonton, pan-fried, saut�ed and/or steamed. similar to potstickers.
gyu tataki beef tataki.
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hamachi young yellowtail. Sushi Image
hamachi-kama yellowtail collars, often served broiled.
hamaguri clam. Sushi Image
hamo pike conger; sea eel. usually cooked.
harusame thin, transparent bean gelatin noodles.
hashi chopsticks.
hatahata sandfish.
hijiki black seaweed in tiny threads.
hikari-mono fish sliced for serving with the silver fish skin left on. typical of iwashi, aji, sayori, sanma, kohada.
himo "fringe" around an ark shell.
hirame halibut flounder. see engawa. Sushi Image
hocho general japanese term for knives.
hokkigai surf clam.
horenso no ohitashi a spinach dish.
hotatagai scallops. Sushi Image
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ika squid. Sushi Image
ika-geso squid tentacles.
ikura salmon roe. Sushi Image
inada very young yellowtail.
inari-zushi vinegared rice and vegetables wrapped in a bag of fried tofu (aburage).
ishikari-nabe salmon stew with sake.
iso-don bed of sushi rice with other ingredients mixed on top.
itamae the sushi (or other Japanese) chef.
iwana char.
iwashi sardine.
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ji- prefix: locally made or caught.
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kaibashira eye of scallop or shellfish valve muscles.
kaiware daikon-radish sprouts.
kaiware-maki daikon-sprout roll.
kajiki swordfish. see mekajiki.
kakomi sushi nigiri sushi wrapped to hold in less solid ingredients. also called gunkan maki (battleship roll) and funamori (boat wrap).
kamaboko fish cake made from pounded whitefish mixed with cornstarch, formed into a sausage shape and cooked.
kampyo dried gourd that comes prepared in long, translucent brown strips like fettuccine.
kani crab meat.
kani-kamaboko imitation crab meat.
kanimiso green contents of a crab’s head.
kanpachi very young yellowtail.
kanpyo dried gourd strips.
kanpyo-maki pickled-gourd rolls.
kappa cucumber, when used in a roll.
kappa-maki cucumber-filled maki-zushi. Sushi Image
kareh katsu curry sauce poured over deep-fried pork cutlet.
karei flounder, flatfish.
katsu a cutlet. katsu refers to fried foods made coated with bread crumbs, as opposed to tempura, fried foods coated with batter.
katsudon deep-fried pork cutlet served with sauce over rice.
katsuo bonito fish. bonito is actually an English word for a fish related to the skipjack.
katsuo-boshi dried bonito fish.
kazunoko herring roe.
kikurage a dried fungus.
kim chee spicy marinated cabbage.
kimachi a small fish from the yellowtail family.
kinome leaves of the Japanese prickly ash (sanshoo), used in soups and to flavor simmered foods.
kobashira small scallops. Sushi Image
kohada gizzard shad. Sushi Image
koi saltwater carp.
kombu kelp, possibly dried; a kind of seaweed, in sheet form.
konnyaku gelatinous, rubbery oblong cake made from the snake palm plant.
koyadofu freeze-dried tofu.
kuro goma black sesame seeds.
kurodai snapper.
kuruma-ebi prawn.
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langostino small shellfish with a strong shrimp flavor.
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madai red seabream.
maguro tuna. see also akami, tekka, toro. Sushi Image
maguro-temaki tuna temaki.
makajiki blue marlin.
maki-mono vinegared rice and fish (or other ingredients) rolled in nori seaweed.
maki-zushi sushi rolls (same as maki-mono or maki sushi).
makisu mat made of bamboo strips for making roll sushi.
manju sweet bun filled with an.
masu trout. see nijimasu, rainbow trout.
matsutake very rare pine mushroom.
meji (maguro) young tuna.
mekajiki blue marlin or swordfish.
meshimono rice mixed with meat or vegetables.
mirin sweet rice wine for cooking.
mirugai long neck clam. sometimes called geoduck.
miso soy bean paste.
mitzutaki cooked in liquid usually, mizutaki includes tofu and vegetables cooked in water.
mochi sweet glutinous rice cakes.
mochigome mochi rice.
mochiko sweet glutinous rice flour.
momen tofu "cottony" bean curd.
moyashi bean sprouts.
murasaki sushi bar term for soy sauce.
mushimono steamed foods.
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nabemono one-pot meals.
nama- prefix: (food) raw; (beer) draught.
nama-tako fresh or raw octopus.
namida wasabi. namida means "tears" in japanese.
nasu eggplant.
natto fermented soy bean.
natto-maki sticky, strong-tasting fermented-soybean rolls.
negi a japanese onion, resembling a leek, but thinner.
negitoro chopped and mixed negi-onion and toro.
negitoro-maki scallion-and-tuna roll.
neta the fish topping in nigiri sushi.
ni-ika squid simmered in a soy-flavored stock.
nigiri-zushi pieces of fish, shellfish, or fish roe over vinegared rice balls.
nihon shu a sake, rice wine.
niika cooked monterey squid.
nijimasu rainbow trout. usually cooked.
nimono simmered or boiled foods.
nori purple layered seaweed pressed into thin sheets, used mostly as a garnish or to make norimake sushi.
nori-maki same as kanpyo-maki; in osaka, same as futo-maki.
nori-tama sweetened egg wrapped in dried seaweed.
norimake a roll with nori seaweed on the outside.
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ocha tea.
odori-ebi dancing shrimp, ama ebi served living.
ohba Japanese beefsteak plant.
ohitsu a special bowl to keep rice warm.
okonomi-zushi home-style nigiri sushi.
onigiri balls made with plain steamed rice and various stuffings, possibly wrapped in nori.
oshi-zushi Osaka-style sushi: squares of pressed rice topped with vinegared/cooked fish.
oshibori rolled up hot towel served to sushi bar customers.
oshinko pickled vegetables, usually cucumber.
oshinko-maki pickled-daikon (radish) rolls.
oshiwaku wooden box with top.
otoro fattest tuna, from the lower belly. see toro and chutoro.
otoro-maki fatty-tuna roll.
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pan-joon very light scallion korean pancake with spicy dipping sauce
philidelphia roll salmon (fresh or smoked), cream cheese, and some sort of vegetable filler.
ponzu sauce made with japanese citron.
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rainbow roll alternate name for tazuna sushi.
ramen thin noodles, often used in fast-prepare packets.
renkon lotus roots.
robata-yaki fresh ingrediants cooked over a wood fire.
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saba mackerel. Sushi Image
sakamushi steamed over sake.
sake rice wine drink. also smoked salmon (different accents).
sanma Japanese mackeral.
sansho Japanese pepper, made from the leaf of the prickly ash. very good with cooked green beans.
sarada-maki salad rolls.
sashimi raw fish served chilled, sliced, and arranged without rice.
sato-imo taro root.
sawagani small crabs, about as big as the first joint of your thumb, served grilled and whole.
sawara spanish mackerel.
sayori springtime halfbeak. Sushi Image
sazae conch.
seigo young sea bass.
senbei thin, crisp rice crackers flavored with soy sauce or other seasonings.
shabu-shabu food blanched at the table; served with sauce.
shako mantis shrimp. Sushi Image
shamoji plastic or wooden flat spoon or spatula to serve rice.
shari a sushi bar term for sushi rice.
shichimi togarashi mixed hot spices for table use. flavors: red pepper (togarashi), ground sansho pepper pods, dried mandarin orange peel, black hemp seeds or white poppy seeds, nori seaweed bits, and white sesame seeds.
shiitake a type of japanese mushroom.
shima-aji another variety of aji.
shime-saba marinated mackerel.
shira-uo whitebait, icefish or salangid.
shirako sperm sacs of the cod fish.
shiratake translucent rubbery noodles.
shiro goma white sesame seeds.
shiro maguro albacore tuna.
shiro miso white soy bean paste.
shiromi seasonal "white meat" fish served as sushi/sashimi which are relatively white in color. for example, tai, hirame, karei.
shiromi no sakana sushi/sashimi fish which are relatively white in color.
shirumono generic Japanese term for soup. also refers to thick soup.
shiso Japanese (or Asian) mint. red or green. may be used as a wrapper.
shochu 25-40% spirit made from potatoes or rice.
shoga ginger root.
shoyu Japanese soy sauce.
shu-mei typical of chinese dim sum. small filled dumplings with a won-ton like skin, served steamed or deep-fried.
shusse-uo name of ascending fish which changes according to its size (see inada, hamachi and buri).
soba buckwheat noodles.
soba-zushi sushi made with soba rather than rice.
somen white, threadlike wheat noodles.
soy sauce salty sauce made from fermented soybeans.
spicy mayonnaise a common condiment with some kinds of sushi rolls.
su rice vinegar.
sudare floor or window-sized bamboo mat.
suimono clear soup.
sukimi bits of fish scraped from the bones, used in rolls. often refers to tuna (maguro).
sumitomo a kind of cucumber salad.
sunomono vinegared foods, as distinguished from aemono or oshinko.
suribachi a bowl with corrugations on the inside, used with a surikogi to grind nuts, spices, and other foods.
surikogi a wooden pestle shaped like a big cucumber.
sushi anything made with vinegared rice.
sushimeshi rice for preparing sushi.
suzuki striped sea bass, rockfish.
sweet bean paste red azuki beans boiled with sugar.
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tai sea bream, porgy, snapper. Sushi Image
tairagai razor-shell clam.
takenoko bamboo shoots.
tako octopus. Sushi Image
takuwan pickled daikon.
tamago sweet egg custard wrapped in dried seaweed.
tamago yaki fried egg. Sushi Image
tare any thick sauce, usually soy-based and slightly sweetened.
tataki grilled on the surface, then chopped or pounded.
tazuna sushi a maki roll with diagonal strips of food across the top, often called a rainbow roll.
tekka tuna, especially in a roll. see maguro, toro.
tekka-don pieces of raw tuna over rice.
tekka-maki tuna-filled maki-zushi. Sushi Image
tekkappa-maki selection of both tuna and cucumber rolls.
temaki hand rolls, usually cone-shaped. may contain: maguro, sake, sukimi, o-shinko, natto, negi-toro, and ume-shiso.
temaki-zushi hand rolled cones of sushi rice and/or vegetables wrapped in seaweed.
tempura seafood or vegetables dipped in batter and deep fried tempura refers to fried foods coated with batter, as opposed to katsu, fried foods coated with bread crumbs.
teriyaki broiled foods marinated in a sweet soy sauce.
teriyaki sauce a sweetened soy sauce.
tobiko flying fish roe.
tofu soybean curd.
togarashi whole dried hot red peppers.
tonkatsu a pork cutlet which is breaded, then fried. it is usually served with a sauce used specifically for tonkatsu and served on a bed of rice. it is very popular for lunch – it is quick and tasty.
tori chicken.
torigai cockle clam. Sushi Image
toro fatty tuna, distinguishable as otoro-fattest, and chutoro-fatty. see also maguro, tekka. Sushi Image
toshi-koshi Japanese custom of eating soba at the end of the year.
tsubugai Japanese "tsubugai" shellfish.
tsukemono pickles.
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udon thick, wide wheat noodles.
ume-shiso plum paste and shiso leaf mixture most commonly served in maki form, rather sweet. Sushi Image
umeboshi small, bitter, pickled Japanese plum.
umejiso-maki Japanese ume plum and perilla-leaf roll.
una-ju grilled eel, served on rice. see also anago.
unagi freshwater eel.
unagi maki eel roll.
unagi no kimo eel innards.
uni sea urchin roe. Sushi Image
usukuchi shoyu light Japanese soy sauce.
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wakame lobe-leaf seaweed, possibly dried, in long, dark green strands.
wasabi green, very hot Japanese horseradish.
wood ears alternate name for kikurage.
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yaki grilled, toasted.
yakidofu broiled or grilled soy bean curd.
yakimono broiled foods.
yakinori toasted seaweed.
yakitori skewer-grilled foods.
yakumi strongly flavored seasonings such as shichimi togarashi, grated daikon (daikon oroshi) and fine chopped negi. typically used instead of wasabi in such nigiri as katsuo, iwashi, aji and sanma.
yamakaki grated mountain potato with chunks of maguro.
yosenabe the Japanese equivalent of bouillaibaise – a fish, seafood, and vegetable soup or stew.
yunomi Japanese green tea cup with a handle.
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zushi alternate spelling of the word "sushi" when used as a prefix.