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In pictures: a spotter’s guide to sushi

Posted at 12:00 pm, July 9, 2013 in Food & Drink

Rolled, stuffed, moulded or scattered, sushi comes in all shapes and sizes. Well, shapes, anyway. And there’s loads of it in London. Former chef Celia Plender, who sharpened her skills at a traditional restaurant in Tokyo, unwraps them for us. Illustrations Ellen Wishart



Sushi Nigiri

In Japan sushi means one thing, and that’s nigiri. It’s all about perfectly cooked sticky rice, fish so fresh it’s barely stopped wriggling and just the right amount of pressure as the chef moulds each rice pellet. Sounds easy? It isn’t. Chefs spend years perfecting their techniques.


Sushi Hosomaki

From sandwich chains to supermarkets, you can find (‘hoso’) maki rolls all over London. Finding a good one is another matter, though. A perfect maki should not be rolled too tight, or too loose, and the seam should be properly sealed, creating an edible cigar-like tube.


Sushi Futomaki
Otherwise known as ‘thick’ or ‘fat’ sushi, these rolls are more than double the diameter of the average hosomaki. Stuffed with fillings such as Japanese omelette, cucumber and kampyo (simmered gourd strips), they make a substantial mouthful.


Sushi Uramaki

Otherwise known as an inside-out roll, the rice and seaweed are inverted with an uramaki. California rolls, packed with crab and avocado, are a popular choice, but there are plenty of other fillings on offer.


Sushi Gunkanmaki

Fancy a game of battleships? That’s what ‘gunkan’ means. Wrapped in a tall collar of ironclad-dark nori seaweed, they’re topped with ingredients that won’t stay put unless coralled. See how many you can sink.


Sushi Inari


These sweet fried tofu pouches stuffed with sushi rice are named after the Japanese fox god, Inari. Like the vulpine deity (who’s said to be partial to a rice parcel), they have a pointy orange ‘ear’ at either side.


Sushi Temaki

Akin to a savoury-filled ice cream cone in appearance, these rolls are made by hand rather than with a sushi mat. Order them fresh and eat them straight away before the nori wrapper goes soggy. Chopsticks are definitely not required.


Sushi Temari


You might not have seen these little sushi balls in the supermarket yet, but they have been popping up on a few London menus over the last three years. Modelled on a traditional silk children’s toy, temarizushi is a trend we’re expecting to see a lot more of.


Sushi Sashimi

This one’s a red herring. Any decent sushi restaurant can knock up an impressive plate of raw, sliced fish (sashimi), but sushi is not just raw fish. It’s only sushi if there is vinegared, short-grain sticky rice (sushi-meshi) involved. So, no meshi = no sushi!

Hungry? Head to one of London’s best sushi bars. Want to know more about Asian food? Here’s our beginner’s guide to dim sum.

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