Sushi vs Sashimi

Here’s the main difference between sushi vs sashimi.

Sushi is made with vinegared rice. Sashimi is not made with rice.

Sashimi is most commonly raw sliced seafood, no rice. The sliced seafood is often on top of a garnish (usually shredded daikon [radish] or shiso leaves), but the meat is the main attraction.  And while sashimi is most commonly raw sliced seafood it can also be made from other things, like slices of raw beef or horse. The seafood can also sometimes be cooked, like in the case of octopus sashimi. Some other types of sashimi might be lightly seared like katsuo.

Sushi is vinegared rice and one or more ingredients. The ingredient(s) added to the vinegared rice vary widely and can be raw or cooked, seafood or not seafood. There are lots of variations on how the ingredients and the rice are combined. More on that later, but remember sushi = rice. If it doesn’t have rice, it’s not sushi.

Sushi vs Sashimi Translation

As always, knowing the translation of two foods can help you a lot with remembering their differences. This is definitely the case with sushi vs sashimi.

Sashimi means pierced body or stuck meat.

  • Notice for sashimi it’s all about the meat.

Sushi comes from the Japanese word meaning sour/vinegared and refers to the sour rice used to make sushi.

  • And for sushi, it’s all about the rice.

Sushi vs Sashimi Ingredients

Both sushi and sashimi have a lot of ingredients in common. They both commonly feature seafood as their defining ingredient.

Some seafood is used commonly for both like sashimi and sushi 

  • Some examples are salmon (sake), yellow tail (kanpachi / hamachi), scallop (hotate), or octopus (tako) .

Other more expensive and highly prized seafood is usually only eaten as sashimi.

  • These might include puffer fish (fugu) or the higher grades of tuna (maguro). There are three grades of tuna: Akami (lowest fat / lowest quality), chutoro (medium fat/medium quality), and otoro (highest fat / highest quality).
  • You’ll definitely see akami sushi but rarely otoro sushi. But all grades of tuna (maguro) are commonly prepared as sashimi.

Ingredients unique to sashimi

The garnish.

The garnish is usually shredded daikon, which is a long white radish. It’s shredded into thin strands, and the sashimi seafood is often placed on top of it. It’s like a radish bed for the sashimi to lay on.

Sushi vs Sashimi - Sashimi with daikon and shiso
Sashimi with daikon and shiso

Another garnish that can be used are the leaves from the shiso plant (perilla frutescens var crispa). The leaves are often used to separate different types of sashimi. So if you have a plate of tuna and yellowtail sashimi, a shiso leaf might be used to separate the two.

Ingredients unique to sushi

The main ingredient that differs is of course the vinegared rice, which is the main difference between sushi and sashimi.

But there is also all the variations of sushi that use seaweed in addition to the vinegared rice, as well as those that use fried tofu pouches. We’ll go into those variations next.

So how about the ingredient that goes on top? Which sushi toppings differ from sashimi?

Well, the list would be way too long if I went into every type of sushi because literally almost anything can be put with vinegared rice and be considered sushi. Egg sushi? Yep, super common. But you’re unlikely to see egg sashimi anytime soon. How about fried pork sushi? Yep, they have that too! But again you’d be hard pressed to find someone peddling sliced fried pork as sashimi.

Sushi vs Sashimi Variations

There are a few variations in how sashimi is prepared and a whole lot of variation in how sushi is prepared. Let’s take a look.

Sashimi variations

The most common variation besides the meat used is how the meat is cut. This actually depends on what meat you order as the cut is usually dependent on the properties of the meat.

Probably the most common cut hira-zukui cut which means rectangular slice and is roughly 2 inches by 1 inch and about 3/8 inches thick. Other cuts are much thinner, for example, puffer fish is usually sliced so thin you can see through it. Sashimi can also be cut into small cubes.

Sushi variations

Here are a few of the most common variations of sushi.

Oh and one thing to keep in mind, when sushi is combined with other Japanese words it’s common to change the “s” to a “z”. So for example nigiri + sushi = nigirizushi.

And that’s the first type of sushi on our list!


This is probably what you think of when you think of sushi. It’s an ingredient like salmon or squid on a ball of vinegared rice.

Nigirizushi, nigiri sushi and gunkanmaki, gunkan maki
Nigirizushi and gunkanmaki


It’s a sushi cup! Some sushi rice wrapped with seaweed, but with space at the top to fill in with ingredients like roe.

Makizushi (a.k.a norimaki)

Makizushi is basically rice and ingredients wrapped up in seaweed (nori). Sometimes shortened as “maki”.These are probably the second most common sushi in the west, and they are what people often think about when they hear “sushi roll.”

Hosomaki hoso maki, uramaki ura maki, futomaki futo maki
Hosomaki, uramaki, futomaki
  • Uramaki – Ingredients wrapped in seaweed (nori) and then wrapped in rice. This is a relatively newer version of makizushi.
  • Futomaki – Seaweed on the outside, thick rolls with lots of ingredients inside.
  • Hosomaki – Seaweed on the outside, thin rolls with few ingredients inside. Like a mini roll.
  • Temaki – It’s like a sushi ice cream cone! Or like someone did a terrible job at rolling maki sushi.
Temaki aka te maki
Temaki aka te maki



Sushi rice shoved into a fried tofu pouch. It’s like an edible bag of sushi!

Inarizushi aka inari sushi
Inarizushi aka inari sushi


For those who can decide whether they want sashimi or nigiri sushi! It’s a bowl of sushi rice topped with a bunch of sashimi. Is it sushi? Is it sashimi? It all depends on if you eat the seafood with the rice or not!

Chirashizushi aka chira sushi
Chirashizushi aka chira sushi

Is that all the variations of sushi? No. There are quite a few more, but this article is sushi vs sashimi, not sushi varieties. So let’s move on!

Sushi vs Sashimi Nutrition

Nutrition is hard to pin down since it varies widely due to the variety of ingredients that can be made into sashimi or sushi. But I’ll give you a rough range.

First sashimi, a piece of sashimi is probably going range from around 20 to 60 calories depending on what you order.

Second sushi, as a rough guide a lot of the rolls you order from sushi restaurants range from around 200 to 500 calories. Nigirizushi will range from 40 to 60 calories per piece.

And what goes into sushi rice?

Well, it’s vinegared rice, so of course vinegar and rice. Also, some salt. It also contains a good amount of sugar, which surprises a lot of people.

So if you are looking to eat healthily, sashimi might be a better choice. After all, sushi is mostly white rice, with vinegar and sugar.

Sushi vs Sashimi Safety Concerns

There are some safety concerns to be aware of when you are eating sushi or sashimi, but as long as you are getting your sushi/sashimi from a reputable restaurant, there is very little chance you’ll get sick.

Something to be aware of is that the longer sushi or sashimi sits out, the more chances bacteria have to spread on the sushi or sashimi. Something to consider if you are getting sushi from the super market. Maybe ask when it was prepared. This is much less of an issue if the sushi consists of cooked protein.

Another thing to consider is parasites. This is relatively rare because most of the fish you get in sushi/sashimi restaurants has been frozen. If the meat hasn’t been frozen, there is a small chance of getting parasites, but once again if you are eating at a reputable establishment, you probably don’t have anything to worry about.

One last thing to consider. If you are pregnant, you might want to skip the top predator sushi/sashimi. This is because fish that are higher in the food chain often contain more mercury than fish further down the food chain. So try to stay away from shark, swordfish, mackerel, tilefish, and tuna (if it wasn’t farmed).

So yeah, stick to reputable restaurants and if you are pregnant stay away from sushi/sashimi that might contain mercury and you should be good!

Final Thoughts on Sushi vs Sashimi

Sushi and sashimi, are both amazing. And the great thing is that there is such a variety that everyone can find some kind of sashimi or sushi they enjoy.

Aren’t into the whole raw fish thing? There are plenty of sushi choices for you.

Kind of into raw fish or want to get into it? Tons of sushi you can try.

Can’t get enough raw fish? So many different types of sashimi to try!

So go out and find a good sushi / sashimi restaurant. You’ll soon find your favorite sushi or sashimi type, but keep trying different ones. You never know when you’ll find a new favorite.


Other pages you might enjoy:

Brown Rice vs White Rice – You’ll probably never see brown rice with sushi but with other dishes it might be a much better choice!

Chow Mein vs Lo Mein – Take a trip into Chinese cuisine and discover the differences between these two noodle dishes.

Dessert vs Desert – Or perhaps you are ready for desert or is it dessert? Find out ways to remember the difference between them on our dessert vs desert page.

Toward vs Towards – We let you know the right one to use for you situation. Whatever that situation might be!