Sushi Glossary

by Alex Evins

Basics

Neta – Fish

Shari – Sushi rice, typically white rice with vinegar, sugar, and salt (More)

Nigiri – Piece of sushi (neta + shari)

Omakase – “I'll leave it to you”, the format of meals at high-end sushiya

Otsumami/tsumami – Small appetizers or snacks

Sakana – Small drinking snacks

Taisho – Head sushi chef, usually also the proprietor

Itamae – ""In front of the counter," typically refers to an assistant sushi chef

Sushiya/Sushi-yasan (or sushi-yasan) – Sushi shop or restaurant

Styles

Edomae – Traditional Tokyo-style sushi invented 200 years ago

Kyshu-mae – Kyushu style sushi that uses salt, kabosu, and shichimi instead of soy sauce and tare; aka Kokura-mae

Preparations

Aburi – Torched or seared

Chirashizushi Bowl of rice, typically sumeshi, topped with neta

Bara-chirashi – Neta is cut into small pieces and mixed into the rice

Kaisendon – Bowl of rice, typically plain rice, topped with neta

Gunkan maki – Nigiri with nori wrapped around the rice

Jukusei-gyo – Aged neta

Kobujime –  Curing of fish between layers of konbu

Maki – Sushi in "rolled" form

Nitsuke – Simmered and marinated

Oshizushi – Pressed sushi

Temaki – Hand roll

Zuke – Marinated

Ingredients

Akazu – Red vinegar, made from sake lees

Dashi – Cooking/soup base made from fish and seaweed

Kabosu – Green Japanese citrus, used in Kyushu-mae sushi

Konbu – Edible kelp, often used as a base seasoning

Nori – Dried seaweed, used for wrapping maki or gunkan

Oboro – Crumbled sweet shrimp paste made using shiba-ebi

Ponzu – Yuzu-based sauce served with sashimi

Shicimi Togarashi  – Seven spice mix incl. chilli, seaweed, and sesame

Shio – Salt

Shoyu – Soy sauce

Sudachi – Small green Japanese citrus

Tare – Seasoned soy sauce used for topping or basting

Tsume – Eel sauce, a sweet soy-based sauce

Umibudo – Sea grapes, used in Kyushu-mae sushi

Wasabi – Horseradish-like rhizome grated into a paste for seasoning

Yuzu – Small yellow Japanese citrus

White Fish (Shiromi)

Lean White Fish

Engawa – Fluke or flounder fin

Fugu – Blowfish

Hirame – Fluke

Isaki – Grunt

Aka-isaki – Red Grunt

Karei – Flounder, aka Japanese flatfish

Mako-karei – Marbled flounder

Matsukawa-karei – Barfin flounder

Same-karei – Shark flounder, aka roughscale sole

Kawahagi – Thread-sail filefish, often served with its liver

Kochi – Flathead

Mahata/Hata – Grouper, aka rock cod

Aka-hata – Red grouper, aka blacktip grouper

Ao-hata – Yellow grouper

Houki-hata – Comet grouper, found in Ise

Suzuki – Sea bass

Seigo – Young sea bass

Medium–Full Bodied White Fish

Ainame – Fat greenling, very rare

Amadai – Tilefish

Aka-amadai – Red or horsehead tilefish

Hakkaku – Dragon fish, aka sailfin poacher

Hamachi – Yellowtail, goes by different names depending on age/size (Wakashi  Inada  Warasa  Buri)

Buri – Adult yellowtail

Kanburi – Winter yellowtail, fattier from Toyama Bay in Himi

Hiramasa – Yellowtail amberjack

Houbou – Spiny red gurnard, very rare

Ibodai – Japanese butterfish

Ishidai – Striped beakfish, aka barred knifejaw

Kamasu – Barracuda

Kanpachi – Greater amberjack, not baby yellowtail

Kisu – Japanese whiting

Kue/Ara – Longtooth grouper

Nodoguro – Adult rosy seabass, aka blackthroat seaperch

Aka-mutsu – Young nodoguro

Kuromutsu – Japanese bluefish

Shima-aji – Striped jack

Soi - Rockfish

Kinki – Thornyhead rockfish

Kurosoi – Black rockfish

Tai – Sea bream or snapper

Aka-amadai – Red sea bream

Aodai – Blue sea bream, aka Japanese snapper

Itoyoridai – Golden threadfin bream

Kinmedai – Golden eye snapper

Kurodai – Black snapper

Madai – Japanese red sea bream, aka Pacific barrelfish

Sakuradai – Cherry blossom sea bream

Silver-Skinned Fish (Hikari Mono)

Aji – Horse mackerel

Iwashi – Sardine

Kaiwari – White fin trevally

Kasugodai – Young sea bream

Kibinago – Silver-stripe round herring

Kisu – Japanese whiting

Kohada – Gizzard shad; indicator of skill

Shinko – Baby kohada

Managatsuo – Butterfish, aka silver pomfret

Mehikari – Greeneye

Nishin – Pacific herring

Saba – Mackerel

Nama-saba – Raw mackerel

Shime-saba – Cured mackerel

Sanma – Pacific saury, aka pike mackerel

Sawara – Spanish mackerel

Sagoshi – Young Spanish mackerel

Sayori – Needlefish, aka Japanese halfbeak

Kannuki – Large needlefish

Tachiuo – Beltfish

Long Fish (Nagamono)

Anago Salt-water conger eel

Noresore – Baby conger eel

Hamo – Conger pike eel

Unagi – Freshwater eel, not used in sushi

Yagara – cornetfish

Aka-yagara – Red cornetfish

Inkfish

Ika – Squid

Aori-ika – Bigfin reef squid

Hotaru-ika – Firefly squid

Sumi-Ika – Cuttlefish, most common

Shin-Ika – Baby cuttlefish

Yari-ika – Spear Squid

Tako – Octopus

Mizudako – Giant Pacific Octopus

Namadako – Raw Octopus

Yudedako – Boiled Octopus

Takowasa – Sakana made of boiled sliced octopus with wasabi

Red-Fleshed Fish (Akami)

Maguro – Tuna

Binnaga/Bincho/Shiro maguro – Albacore tuna

Katsuo – Bonito, aka skipjack tuna

Koshinaga maguro – Longtail tuna

Kihada maguro – Yellowfin tuna (aka Ahi tuna)

Mebachi/Bachi maguro – Big-eye tuna (aka Ahi tuna)

Minami maguro – Southern bluefin tuna

Kuro maguro/Hon maguro – Pacific or Atlantic bluefin tuna (the good stuff)

Chiai/Chiai gishi Dark red bloody meat, rarely used in sushi

Akami – Lean meat

Akami zuke – Marinated akami

Toro – Fatty meat

Chutoro – Medium-fatty cut, typically from the back

Otoro – Fatty cut, typically from the belly

Kamatoro – Very fatty marbled cut from the jaw/jowl

Dandara – Describes meat with visible white bands of sinew that alternate with the flesh

Shimofuri – Describes meat with marbled flesh and little to no sinew

Sunazuri – Describes marbled meat with thin sinew

Hagashi Toro Meat found in between the sinew—i.e. dandara with the tendons peeled off, very rare, comes from the top of the tail or bottom of the belly

Jabara Toro – Bellows/snake’s belly, dandara cut from the underbelly

Kawagishi Toro – Toro that is scraped from the bone or skin, similar in texture to negitoro

Negitoro – Finely chopped fatty tuna commonly mixed with scallions

Setoro – Back toro from area closest to the dorsal fin

Noten/Hachinomi/Tenmi – Meat from the top of the head

Tossaki – Meat from the base of the head

Hohoniku Cheek meat from below the eye, often grilled

Nakaochi – Tuna rib

Nakaochi Scrape – Tuna rib/back meat scraped off from the bones

Wakaremi – Divided flesh found at the root of the dorsal fin, very rare

Onomi – Meat from the tail/dorsal fin

Meji – Baby bluefin tuna, < 1 year old

Chubou – Young bluefin tuna, 2–5 years old

Shellfish (Kairui)

Akagai – Ark–shell clam, aka red clam

Himo – Mantle around the meat of the clam

Aoyagi – Red clam or orange clam

Awabi – Abalone; often served with its own liver sauce

Hamaguri – Hard clam

Hashira – Shellfish adductor muscle

Hokkigai – Surf clam

Hotate – Scallop

Kaibashira – Adductor muscle, sometimes referred to as baby scallops

Kaki – Oyster

Mategai – Razor clam

Mirugai – Giant clam or geoduck

Sazae – Horned turban shell

Tairagai – Pen shell, similar in consistency to scallops

Torigai – Japanese cockle

Tsubugai – Whelk

Crustaceans (Kokakurui)

Ebi – Shrimp

Ama-ebi – Sweet shrimp

Ao-ebi – Blue shrimp from New Caledonia, not found in Japanese sushiya

Botan-ebi – Spot prawn

Gasu-ebi – Rustling sweet shrimp found mainly in Kanazawa

Ise-ebi – Japanese spiny lobster

Kuruma-ebi – Japanese tiger prawn

Odori-ebi – “Dancing shrimp,” preparation where shrimp are served live

Sakura-ebi – Tiny pink shrimp

Shako – Mantis shrimp

Shiba-ebi – Small grey prawn

Shima-ebi – Hokkai shrimp, aka Morotoge or striped shrimp

Shiro-ebi – Small white shrimp

Tenaga-ebi – Long-armed shrimp, aka giant freshwater prawns

Kani – Crab

Hanasaki-gani – Hanasaki crab, a red spikey king crab from Nemuro

Kani-miso – Crab brain and innards

Ke-gani – Hokkaido hairy crab, aka horsehair crab

Mokuzu-gani – Japanese mitten crab

Sawa-gani – Japanese freshwater crab

Taraba-gani – Red king crab

Takaashi-gani – Japanese spider crab

Watari-gani – Japanese blue crab

Zuwai-gani  – Snow crab, has verious names based on the region of origin

Matsuba-gani/Kano-gani – Male snow crab, “pine-leaf crab”

Seko-gani/Koppe-gani – Femal snow crab

Kobako-gani – Prized “flavor box” female snow crab from Kanazawa

Taiza-gani – Very rare snow crabs from Taiza port in Kyoto

Roe (Gyoran)

Ikura – Salmon roe

Sujiko – Ikura in it’s sac

Karasumi – Dried and cured mullet roe, softer version of bottarga

Borako – Fresh mullet roe

Kazunoko – Herring roe, often dried and pressed into blocks

Kimo – Liver, often served as a otsumami or as a topping/sauce

Ankimo – Monkfish liver

Tarako – Salted sacks of cod roe, not typically used in sushi

Mentaiko/Karashi Mentaiko – Tarako from Alaska pollack roe seasoned with chili peppers

Shirako – Cod sperm sacs

Shiokara – Sakana made of fermented squid entrails

Uni – Sea urchin gonads

Aka uni – Red sea urchin, short spines, found off of Kyushu

Bafun uni – Green sea urchin, short spines, found in deeper waters off of Honshu

Ezo-bafun uni – Prized bafun uni from Hokkaido

Murasaki uni – Purple sea urchin, longer spines, larger lighter colored roe, found in the waters off of Honshu

Kita-Murasaki uni – Prized Muraskai uni from Hokkaido

Shirahige uni – White “collector” uni, found in the waters around Okinawa

Other

California – Purple (Murasaki) and Red (Giant Murasaki)

Maine – Green (Giant Bafun)

Caribbean – White (Shiro)

Chilean – Red (Chiriuni)

European – Purple (Murasaki)

Other

Gari – Sliced pickled ginger, served as a palate cleanser between nigiri

Tamago – Sweet egg omelette served at the end of a meal; indicator of skill

Other Common Fish Not Typically Used in Sushi

Ayu – Sweetfish

Gindara – Black cod, aka sablefish

Kujira – Whale

Masu – Trout

Niji-masu – Rainbow trout

Sakura-masu – Cherry blossom trout

Amago – Sea or lake red spotted trout

Satsuki-masu – River red spotted trout

Umi-masu – Ocean trout

Sake – Salmon

Shirauo – Japanese icefish, aka whitebait

Shishamo – Willow leaf fish, a type of smelt

Tobiuo – Flying fish

Wagyu Glossary

Wagyu is Japanese (wa-) beef (-gyu) from any of the below four Japanese breeds of beef cattle:

Japanese Black (Kuroge Washu) [> 90% of wagyu, breed known for its marbling]

Tajima Ushi – Bloodline of Kuroge Washu mainly from Hyogo Prefecture

Kobe-gyu Famed and prized Kobe beef from Hyogo, must have the iconic Nojigiku stamp

Hida-gyu – Raised in the Fukano Valley of Gifu Prefecture

Matsusaka-gyu – Famed beef of heifers (females that have not borne calves) from Mie Prefecture

Ohmi-gyu – Famed beef from Shiga Prefecture east of Kyoto, older strain than Kobe-gyu

Sanda-gyu – Very rare, from Sanda City in Hyogo

Other Popular Ushi

Miyazaki-gyu – Highly prized beef from Kyushu, second largest Japanese Black producer

Ozaki Beef – Prized wagyu from Muneharu Ozaki’s farm in Miyazaki; supplier of WAGYUMAFIA

Hitachi-gyu – Hand-raised cattle from Ibaraki Prefecture

Iga-gyu – Very rare, heifers from Mie

Kagoshima-gyu – Prized beef from Kyushu, south of Miyazaki, largest Japanese Black producer

Kazusa-gyu – Raised on iodine-rich water in Chiba Prefecture

Maesawa-gyu – From lwate Prefecture, raised on straw from the same ward of Oshu city

Noto-gyu – Very rare marbled meat from Ishikawa Prefecture

Sanuki-gyu – Olive wagyu, prized newer strain raised on olives from Shodoshima Island in Kagawa Prefecture

Shinshu-gyu – Very rare, raised on Apples, from Nagano Prefecture

Shiro-gyu – Prized and rare, from Hokkaido

Saga-gyu – Crossbreed between Japanese Black and Holstein dairy cows from Saga Prefecture

Yonezawa-gyu – Famed beef of heifers from Yamagata Prefecture

Japanese Red/Brown (Akage Washu/Kassyoku Washu)

Aka-gyu –  Leaner meat mainly from Kumamaoto and Kochi

Japanese Shorthorn (Tankaku Ushu) [< 1% of all wagyu]

Iwate Tankaku-gyu – Leaner meat from Iwate

Japanese Polled (Mukaku Washu) [virtually nonexistant due to conservation efforts]

Note that “washu” means “Japanese breed” and should not be confused with the American product Washugyu, which is a crossbreed between Tajima-ushi and American Black Angus, similar to other types of so-called “American Wagyu.” For more, see Wagyu Myths Debunked.

Wagyu Grading

Yield Grade – Letter grade (A to C, A being the best) indicating the amount of meat yielied from that cow

Marbling Score – Number score (1 to 5, 5 being the best) based on the lowest of the following scores:

BMS – Beef Marbling Standard, score for fat distrubition

BCS – Beef Color Standard, score for the color of the meat

BFS – Beef Fat-color Standard, score for the color of the fat

Texture/Firmness – Visually appraised score for texture

Thus, top grade wagyu is labeled A5