Sushi Set: Sushi versus Sashimi

A beautiful sushi set can really help to whet the appetite, but when you first mention sushi to someone, a common initial reaction is, “Raw fish?” But in reality, the image these people are thinking of is a plate heaped with slices of raw seafood. This is sashimi, not sushi.

Sashimi as a dish is entirely separate from sushi. Sashimi consists of very fresh raw fish sliced into thin pieces and served with dipping sauce such as soy sauce or wasabi paste. It may also be served over a garnish, such as white radish.

Sashimi is often served as an appetizer or first course in a Japanese meal, although it can also be prepared as a main dish with rice and soup in separate bowls. Sashimi is regarded as having very subtle flavors, and for many Japanese people represents the finest dish in Japanese cuisine.

Sushi, on the other hand, refers to any food made using sushi rice. While some types of sushi are made with raw seafood, many types use partially- or fully-cooked fish, and some contain no fish at all. These vegetarian sushis are as far removed from the stereotypical idea of raw fish as you can imagine!

Part of the confusion no doubt comes from the similarity of the words to the English ear, but be sure to differentiate when you order in a restaurant. Sushi and sashimi are two very distinct foods, and a person who likes one may not care at all for the other!