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Misnamed Foods: Sushi and Sashimi

I sometimes wonder what the Japanese must think about the propensity of Americans (and others) for the misuse of the word ‘sushi’. I’d imagine that some of them are quietly amused, even though the difference is so simple to understand.

Sushi is seasoned rice that is cooked in a specific way. It may or may not contain meat or fish.

Sashimi is raw fish or meat. It may or may not be served with sushi rice.

Americans tend to think that sushi is raw meat and fish. In fact, many are surprised when they learn that sushi is the rice. Japanese restaurants tend to understand that Americans are confused about this issue, so if you go into an authentic Japanese restaurant and order sushi, you are likely to get sushi with sashimi. 

This is good business sense on the part of the Japanese restaurants, though I can imagine a potential issue that could arise if someone who actually knew the difference between sushi and sashimi ordered sushi and complained when it was served with raw meat or fish.

  • Have you eaten sushi or sashimi?

    • Yes
    • No
    • I love sushi with sashimi
    • I’ll pass on the sashimi–I prefer my fish and meat cooked, thank you
    • I’ll eat sushi but pass on the sashimi because I don’t eat meat or fish
  • Did you know the difference between sushi and sashimi?

    • Yes
    • No

What do you think?

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Written by Rex Trulove

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12 Comments

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    • You’re probably right. I rather like sushi because I like the seasonings they add to the rice. However, although I’ve eaten raw fish and meat in survival training, I much prefer having it cooked, so I’m not crazy about sashimi.

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