If you’re keen to dip your taste buds into the wonderful world of sushi, a restaurant menu can be overwhelming. While the pictures of colorful little sushi snacks look very appealing, the thought of eating raw fish might keep you from actually indulging in a few of these tasty-looking options.
You might be wondering: can sushi be cooked? And if so, is it still regarded as sushi? Are there benefits to eating cooked sushi? Which of the many sushi options would most likely be prepared with cooked fish? If you’ve asked yourself any of these questions, then this article is definitely for you! Keep reading as we take a closer look at cooked sushi.
Is All Sushi Raw?
The number one reason many people are hesitant to even try eating sushi is the misconception that it contains raw fish. You might be surprised to learn that not all sushi is made from raw fish or seafood.
The term “sushi” is actually a blanket term that covers a wide range of dishes that involve raw, cooked and grilled fish. Additionally, vegetables, rice, avocado and fried eggs are also added to some of these sushi dishes.
For people hesitant to eat raw fish straight off the bat, it’s easier to start with the sushi types made from cooked fish and eventually move on to some of the more traditional variations. While sushi isn’t traditionally cooked, just about every restaurant and grocery store carries a small selection of cooked sushi for patrons who prefer the cooked variations.
Why Is Sushi Traditionally Eaten Raw?
Traditionally, Japanese sushi was always eaten raw. The main reason for this is that Japan is an island nation. As a result of the abundance of fish, it makes sense that the preferred dishes of choice would be fish-based. Since some uncooked fish and seafood options have high levels of valuable nutrients, it’s always been a popular choice.
Raw fish is also free from added chemical contaminants and oils. When seafood is cooked at high temperatures, the nutritional value is greatly reduced. Ultimately, eating sushi-grade fish raw means you get the maximum benefits of omega-3 fatty acids.
Can You Make Sushi With Cooked Fish?
The good news is many tasty sushi variations are made with fish that’s either seared or smoked. Some of the seafood options that you can use to make cooked sushi include the following:
- Poached shrimp
- Crab or shrimp tempura
- Barbequed eel
- Seared salmon
What Is Cooked Sushi Called?
In general, the term sushi can refer to raw or cooked ingredients such as fish, seafood and vegetables that have been mixed with vinegared rice. Sashimi, on the other hand, refers to variations with thinly sliced raw fish or seafood meat that’s almost always raw.
The sashimi dishes are also always served without rice and are just fish or seafood meat served with a variety of sauces. Nigiri (seaweed wraps filled with seafood and rice), norimaki (sushi rolls) and temaki (nori seaweed “cones” with vegetables and seafood) can all be made with either raw or cooked seafood or fish meat.
Also Read: 35 Fun and Tasty Sushi Filling Ideas
What Does Cooked Sushi Taste Like?
While staunch sushi lovers enjoy the acquired taste of authentic sushi, there are a lot of people who actually prefer the taste of cooked fish. For some, making sushi with cooked fish and seafood is much tastier. Raw meat has a chewy and ropy texture which can be less appetizing.
Different cooking methods soften the connective tissue in the meat or seafood meat and improve its texture. Depending on the fish or seafood meat used, cooking could make the meat juicier and more flavorful. However, if you prefer the authentic raw taste, know that you’ll lose that flavor even if the meat is slightly seared.
What Are the Best Ways to Cook Fish for Sushi?
If you’re making your own sushi at home, it’s important to prepare the fish or seafood meat correctly to ensure you don’t overdo anything during the preparation phase. Remember, you still want to have that mouthwatering, unique sushi taste. Some of the ways to prepare fish for “cooked sushi” include the following:
- Tempura: This refers to a popular Japanese method of deep-frying fish to use in sushi. Tempura, unlike other fried methods, uses no breadcrumbs. Made from egg, flour, spices and cold water, tempura batter can be added to shrimp and crab meat for a unique flavor.
- Aburi: A common Japanese preparation of fish for sushi is Aburi where the fish or seafood is quickly broiled using a blow/kitchen torch to sear the surface of the fish to create a sweeter, more tantalizing flavor. Additionally, the slight aroma of charred flesh makes the dish so much more appetizing. Remember to add a sprinkle of soy sauce.
- Poaching: The method of poaching is popular for shrimp and can be done with stock, wine, parsley and even chives to add flavor. Don’t poach for longer than 6 minutes.
- Barbeque: When it comes to barbequing seafood such as eel for your sushi dish, simply grill each side for about 6 or 8 minutes. Other fish that can be barbequed include mackerel, sardines, trout, red mullet, tuna steak or even salmon.
What Kind Of Sushi Rolls Are Cooked?
With the number of sushi options available on most menus, it helps to know which ones include some form of cooked fish or seafood meat. Some of the more popular sushi dishes that feature cooked meat are listed below:
- Dragon roll: A very popular cooked sushi option is a dragon roll which is made from shrimp tempura and features a mouthwatering avocado topping.
- Nori sushi: The seaweed used to make “sushi cups” is called Nori and is used to make maki, uramaki and temaki sushi. Nori sushi is made using sushi rice and a host of other fillings such as vegetables and slivers of fish and seafood which can be cooked or uncooked.
- California roll: Made with crab or even imitation crab meat, a California roll contains no raw fish. Other ingredients include cucumber, avocado and sesame seeds.
- Spicy tuna roll: If you enjoy tuna, but not necessarily raw tuna steak meat, you can use canned tuna to make a spicy tuna roll. Additional ingredients include mayonnaise and chili sauce.
- Spider roll: Another sushi dish featuring soft-shell crab tempura is the tasty spider roll. Spicy mayo, cucumber and avocado add to the delicious ingredients in this dish.
- Unagi sushi roll: This type of sushi roll is made with barbequed eel and cucumber. Drizzling a sprinkle of sweet & spicy unagi sauce adds to the fiery taste.
- Shrimp tempura roll: If you enjoy shrimp, then you’ll love this sushi roll. Made with shrimp tempura, tempura flakes, eel sauce and avocado, this sushi dish is a firm favorite among people who enjoy cooked sushi dishes.
- Boston roll: Many people who love sushi enjoy that the Boston roll is made with poached shrimp, cucumber and creamy avocado. To add to the flavor, consider topping your Boston roll with masago or tobiko.
Types of Cooked Sashimi Dishes
While sashimi is usually served raw, there are a few variations that are served cooked. It’s also worth noting that sashimi isn’t always fish and can also refer to other types of seafood, such as:
- Anago: Saltwater eel that’s usually boiled or deep-fried
- Ebi: Cooked tiger shrimp
- Hokigai: Cooked surf clam
- Kani: Cooked crab meat
- Unagi: Barbequed freshwater eel
From our article, it’s clear that you don’t have to pass up on sushi simply because you’re a little apprehensive of eating raw fish. With cooking methods such as poaching, barbequing or even searing it’s possible to enjoy the mouthwatering taste of sushi.
Adding the perfect toppings, sauces or even vegetables can provide you with a tasty, cooked version of the original sushi options. With the many different choices available, you’ll easily be able to find your favorite cooked sushi dish. Sushi is a great cuisine and whether you prefer the traditional Japanese style of raw fish or the Western style of cooked fish, your taste buds will thank you!