Sushi Glossary

Aburage- fried tofu pouches that are prepared by cooking them in sweet sake, shoyu, and water

Aemono- vegetables or meats mixed with a dressing or sauce

Agari- a sushi-bar term for green tea

Agemono- fried foods (generally either deep-fried or pan-fried)

Aji- Spanish mackerel or sometimes called horse mackerel. Purportedly this is not actually a mackerel, but some other kind of fish. It is small (about 6 inches in length), filleted, and serve marinated in vinegar.

Aji-no-moto- monosodium glutamate (MSG)

Aka miso- red soy bean paste

Akagai- pepitona clam, which is red in colour and not always available

Ama Ebi- sweet shrimp. Sometimes served with the deep-fried shells of the shrimp, where you eat the shells just like you would crayfish.

An- sweetened puree of cooked red beans

Anago- salt water or conger eel. It is precooked (boiled) and then grilled before serving. It is less rich than unagi (fresh water eel).

Ana-kyu-maki- conger eel-and-cucumber rolls

Aoyagi- red clam, or sometimes known as round clam

Awabi- abalone

Ayu- sweetfish

Azuki- small red beans

Battera-zushi- oshi-zushi topped with mackerel

Beni shoga- red pickled ginger

Bonito- also known as skipjack tuna (See Katsuo)

Buri- adult yellowtail. While Hamachi refers to the younger yellowtail, Buri are the older ones.

Buri Toro- a fatty yellowtail, which is from the belly strip of the yellowtail. It is incredibly rich with a nice buttery flavour.

Buta- pork

Chakin-zushi- vinegared rice wrapped in a thin egg crepe

Chikuwa- browned fish cake with a hole running through its length

Chirashi-zushi- this translates as "scattered sushi." It is a bowl or box of sushi rice topped with a variety of sashimi (usually nine pieces, as nine is a Japanese lucky number).

Chu-toro- marbled tuna belly

Chutoro-maki- marbled-tuna roll

Daikon- giant white radish, usually served grated as garnish for sashimi

Dashi- a basic soup and cooking stock made with kombu and katsuoboshi

Donburi- a large bowl for noodle and rice dishes

Ebi- shrimp, which is not the same as Ami Ebi (sweet shrimp): Ebi is cooked, whereas Ami Ebi is prepared by "curing" it in a mixture of juices.

Edomae-zushi- same as nigiri-zushi

Fugu- puffer fish, which while it is considered a delicacy, it contains large amounts of poisonous tetrodotoxin. In Japan, only licensed fugu chefs are allowed to prepare fugu or puffer fish.

Fuki- a Japanese butterbur plant which contains a bitter substance called "fukinon" (a kind of ketone compound), but upon blanching, fukinon is easily washed out from its pitioles (edible parts) and is prepared for an excellent Japanese vegetable dish.

Futo-Maki- large, oversized rolls

Futo-maki- a fat roll filled with rice, sweetened cooked egg, pickled gourd, and bits of vegetables

Gari- vinegared or pickled ginger that comes along with Sushi; it is generally off-white or pink in colour

Gobo- long, slender burdock root

Gohan- plain boiled rice

Goma- sesame seeds

Gundan-maki- the battleship roll. This is where the maki is rolled to form a container for liquid neta. Often used for oysters, uni, quail eggs, ikura, tobiko, etc.

Hamachi- young yellowtail tuna, or amberjack

Hamaguri- clam

Hamo- pike conger; sea eel

Hanakatsuo- dried bonito fish, that is either shaved or flaked

Harusame- thin, transparent bean gelatin noodles

Hashi- chopsticks

Hashi oki- small ceramic block for holding chopsticks

Hatahata- sandfish

Hijiki- black seaweed in tiny threads

Hikari-mono- various kinds of "shiny" fish, such as mackerel

Hirame- fluke or flounder

Hocho- a general Japanese term for knives

Hokkigai- surf clam, which is thorn-shaped piece with red colouring on one side

Hotategai- scallops

Ika- squid. The body of the Ika is eaten raw while the tentacles are usually served toasted on a bed of rice

Inada- very young yellowtail

Inari-zushi- vinegared rice and vegetables wrapped in a bag of fried tofu

Kaibashira- eye of scallop or shellfish valve muscles (actually giant clam adductor muscle) that are served much like cooked scallops but they are more tender and sweeter.

Kaiware- daikon-radish sprouts

Kaiware-maki- daikon-sprout roll

Kajiki- swordfish

Kaki- oysters

Kamaboko- imitation crab meat. Generally used in California rolls and other maki. It is not the same thing as "soft shell crab"

Kampyo- dried gourd. When unprepared it is light tan in colour, but once prepared it turns a translucent brown. It comes in long strips that are shaped much like fettuccine.

Kani- real crab meat. It is always served cooked and tastes much better if cooked while still fresh, but it is often cooked and then frozen.

Kanpachi- very young yellowtail

Kanpyo-maki- pickled-gourd rolls

Kappa-maki- cucumber-filled maki-zushi

Karei- sole or flatfish

Katsuo- bonito, which is also known as skipjack tuna. Because it lives in the ocean and does not freeze well, Katsuo is generally only found in sushi bars near the Pacific coast

Kobashiri- small scallops, which like kaibashira, may or may not come from scallops or other bivalves

Kohada- Japanese shad, gizzard shad, or young punctatus

Kuro goma- black sesame seeds

Kuruma-ebi- prawn

Maguro- tuna, which is not to be confused with Toro. Toro is the tuna belly (the fatty part) and maguro is the leaner flesh from the "sides" of the fish.

Maguro-temaki- tuna temaki

Maki-mono- vinegared rice and fish (or other ingredients) rolled in nori seaweed

Maki-zushi- rice and seaweed rolls with fish and/or vegetables. Most maki place the nori on the outside, but some, like the California and rainbow rolls, place the rice on the outside.

Makajiki- blue marlin

Masu- trout

Meji (maguro)- young tuna

Mekajiki- swordfish

Mirin- sweet rice wine used for cooking

Mirugai- surf, geoduck, or horseneck clam. It is slightly crunchy and sweet

Miso- soy bean paste

Moyashi- bean sprouts

Nasu- eggplant

Natto- fermented soy beans, which have a very strong smell and taste, and are quite slimy. Americans never eat it; order it once, if for no other reason then to see the confused look of the chef.

Natto-maki- sticky, strong-tasting fermented-soybean rolls

Negi- onion

Negi-toro- tuna belly and chopped green onion

Negitoro-maki- scallion-and-tuna roll

Neta- the piece of fish that is placed on top of the sushi rice for nigiri

Ni-ika- squid simmered in a soy-flavored stock

Nigiri-zushi- the little fingers of rice topped with wasabi and a filet of raw or cooked fish or shellfish. Generally it is the most common form of sushi.

Nori- sheets of dried seaweed used in maki

Nori-maki- same as kanpyo-maki; in Osaka, it is the same as futo-maki

Nori-tama- sweetened egg wrapped in dried seaweed

O-shibori- the wet towel used to cleans one's hands before the meal

Ocha- tea

Ochoko- sake tumbler

Odori-ebi- live ("dancing") shrimp

Ohyo- halibut

Okemo- best skiing inthe east

Oshinko- Japanese pickles

Oshinko-maki- pickled-daikon rolls

Oshiwaku- wooden box with top

Oshi-zushi- Osaki-style sushi, which is made from rice pressed in a box or mold and topped with vinegared or cooked fish.

Otoro- fatty portion of tuna belly

Otoro-maki- fatty-tuna roll

Ponzu- a sauce made with Japanese citron

Roe- generic term for fish eggs. Generally, flying fish, smelt, and salmon roe are available in all sushi restaurants.

The different kinds of roe are: 

Ikura- salmon roe (note: Ikura means "How much?" in Japanese)

Kazunoko- herring roe, which is usually served marinated in sake, broth, and soy sauce, but is sometimes served raw (kazunoko konbu)

Masago- capelin roe, which while very similar to tobiko it is slightly more orange in colour and not as common in North America as tobiko (though it is often caught here). Capelin Shishamo is also served grilled whole (after being lightly salted), with the roe in it as an appetizer

Tobiko- flying-fish roe, which is red and crunchy and often served as part of maki-zushi or as nigiri-zushi, with quail egg yolk (uzura no tamago)

Uni- sea urchin (see below)

Saba- mackerel, which is almost always served after being lightly salted and marinated for a few days, so it is really cooked. Raw mackerel is sometimes served, but it must be extremely fresh as it goes off quickly.

Sake- rice wine that can be served both hot and cold depending on the quality. Some people love it, some people hate it.

Sake- salmon, but pronounced differently

Sashimi- raw fish fillets without rice

Sansho- Japanese pepper

Sawara- Spanish mackerel

Sayori- (springtime) halfbeak

Seigo- young sea bass

Shako- mantis shrimp

Shima-aji- another variety of aji

Shime-sab- marinated mackerel

Shiro maguro- albacore tuna, (often known as white tuna). It does not handle as well and can change colour (but not taste or quality) so it is not as common as the other tunas. It will probably not be on the menu, so you must ask for it.

Shiratake- translucent rubbery noodles

Shiro goma- white sesame seeds

Shiro miso- white soy bean paste

Shiso- the leaf of the perilla plant. It is frequently used with maki-zushi and sashimi.

Shitake- type of Japanese mushroom, usually available dried

Shoga- ginger root

Shoyu- soy sauce

Soba- Buckwheat noodles

Somen- white, threadlike wheat noodles

Spam- yes SPAM, a sushi you can get in Hawaii (maybe Japan too), an acquired taste, perhaps

Su- rice vinegar

Sudare- mat made of bamboo strips to create maki-zushi

Suimono- clear soup

Sushi- sweetened, pickled rice. The fish is sashimi. Wrap the two together in portions and sell it as sushi, but the name still refers to the rice, not the fish. Sushi is indeed the term for the special rice but it is modified, in Japanese, to zushi when coupled with modifiers that describe the different styles of this most popular dish.

Suzuki- sea bass (of one species or another, often quite different)

Tai- porgy, though red snapper is a good and often used substitute

Tairagai- razor-shell clam

Tako- cooked octopus

Tamago- sweet egg custard wrapped in dried seaweed

Tamago yaki- a sweet and light egg omelet. It is a good test of a new sushi restaurant; if its overcooked and chewy, go somewhere else. In Japan it is the trademark of each chef. In Japan, potential customers will often ask for a taste of the Tamago in order to judge the chef's proficiency.

Tataki- pounded, almost raw fish

Tekka-don- pieces of raw tuna over rice

Tekka-maki- tuna-filled maki-zushi

Tekkappa-maki- selection of both tuna and cucumber rolls

Temaki- hand-rolled cones made from dried seaweed

Temaki-zushi- hand rolled cones of sushi rice, fish and vegetables wrapped in seaweed. It is very similar to maki.

Tempura- seafood or vegetables dipped in batter and deep fried

Tofu- soybean curd

Tori- chicken

Torigai- Japanese cockle, which is a black and white shell fish. It is better when fresh but usually found frozen (and chewier as a result).

Toro- fatty tuna. There are several different types of tuna you can order in a sushi restaurant. It comes in many different grades, O-Toro considered the finest.

Tsubugai- Japanese "tsubugai" shellfish

Umejiso-maki- Japanese ume plum and perilla-leaf roll

Unagi- freshwater eel that is grilled and brushed with a teriyaki-like sauce. It is richer than salt water eel.

Uni- sea urchin, is very expensive. Sea urchins are hermaphroditic, so when you eat their sexual organs (the gonads) you are getting both the roe and milt. The most expensive (start saving now) is red in colour, the least is yellow, (luckily they taste about the same). Lobsters eat sea urchin as a mainstay of their diet - the lucky devils!

Usukuchi shoyu- light Japanese soy sauce

Wakame- dried lobe-leaf seaweed in long, dark green strands

Wasabi- Japanese horseradish. This is the green paste on the tray. Unbelievably hot if you mistake it for guacamole like Aleks did the first time he encountered it...ash Michiko about it. Not related to American Horseradish except by name.