Cucumber Maki Sushi
For some people, heaven is a Kobe steak; for others, it’s exquisite sushi like this tuna tataki (the equivalent of tartare) with ikura (salmon roe), wasabi-flavored tobiko (capelin roe) and nori flakes (seaweed). Photo by Kelly Cline | IST.




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July 2007
Last Updated June 2024

Product Reviews / Main Nibbles / Fish, Seafood & Caviar

Types Of Sushi With Pictures

Page 5: Kappa Maki, Maki Sushi & Other Terms With K, L & M


We love to peruse the different types of sushi with pictures. If you enjoy this Sushi Glossary, we have a food glossary for almost every category of food. Check out the Seafood Glossary, too.



Click on a letter to go to the appropriate glossary section.

a b c d e f g h i j k l m n o p q r s t u v w x y z

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Kabayaki tare, or eel sauce, is a thick, savory sauce brushed onto eel sushi. It is made of soy sauce, syrup, eel extract and mirin (some products include sugar, but this is not a traditional Japanese ingredient). It is often heated prior to serving. Kabayaki tare also can be served with other sushi and non-sushi foods.



The edible part of the scallop is sometimes called the eye of scallop. Botanically, it is variously called the posterior adductor muscle, striped muscle, valve muscle.


In this creative nigiri sushi, eel, shrimp and avocado are wrapped in seaweed and drizzled with eel sauce. Photo courtesy



Daikon radish sprouts. They can be used as a garnish for chirashi, sashimi and sushi, or made into a vegetarian roll.

Like all sprouts, kaiware taste like the plant they would grow into if planted in the garden. If you like daikon, you’ll like daikon sprouts.


The radish, Raphanus sativus, is a member of the Brassica family—the cancer-fighting cruciferous vegetables.


The Raphanus genus is believed to have originated in southeast Asia. Many different varieties now grow worldwide.


Daikon is Japanese for “big root,” which this long, white winter radish certainly is. In English, it is often called big white radish. Some subspecies can grow to 16 inches or more.



Above, kaiware, daikon sprouts. Photo courtesy Atlanta Sushi Bar. Below, the daikon they would have become, photo courtesy Good Eggs.

Daikon Radish



Swordfish. It is not typically found in American sushi bars. It has high levels of mercury (as does tuna, another very large fish and perhaps the most popular item on the sushi menu).



Oysters. Traditional Japanese cuisine does not serve oysters on the half shell, but oysters in their shells are garnished with other ingredients to produce delightful oyster sashimi (photo at right).


Oysters are also served raw and fried in maki, with an option to include spicy mayonnaise.



Oyster, Caviar, Sea Urchin

It doesn’t get better than oysters topped with caviar and uni, sea urchin. Photo courtesy Katana Sushi.




A conveyor-belt sushi restaurant. Plates of food are placed on a conveyor belt which travels around a long, oval-shaped sushi bar. Newer-style kaiten restaurants (such as New York’s Sakae Sushi) have booth-style seating, so that groups can dine and converse facing each other; the conveyor belt is a long, narrow track with booths on either side (think of a model train track making a long loop with just a few inches between the tracks). Consumers help themselves to whatever looks appealing; or can order from the sushi chef (in the booth system, there are waiters and tableside computer-ordering as well). Plates are color-coded by price, and include not just sushi but salads, soup, udon (noodles) and other hot dishes.



Kaiten Sushi

Plates of food circulate around on a conveyor belt at a Sakae Sushi restaurant.


Styles of nigiri that use the seaweed as a wrap to hold less solid ingredients. Examples include gunkan maki, the “battleship roll” shape that is used to hold semi-liquid ingredients like quail egg, and funamori or “boat wrap” (the terms are virtually identical).



Fish cake, made from pounded whitefish mixed with cornstarch, formed into a oval sausage shape, seasoned and cooked.


Seaweed wrap (gunkan maki) around seaweed salad. Photo courtesy Beyond Sushi.


A popular vegetarian sushi, long, dried gourd strips the width of fettuccine, marinated in a sweet sauce. Also an ingredient in futomaki. Before the gourd is prepared, it is a light tan color; after marinating, it becomes a translucent brown.



Unlike California Roll, Spider Roll and other American inventions which have a set definition, Kamikazi Roll is made from whatever ingredients the restaurant chooses to use. At Amber in New York City, it is crunchy spicy tuna with seaweed. served inside out. At Godzilla Sushi in San Francisco, it is made with yellow tail.

Kampyo is a dried gourd in a sweet sauce. Photo courtesy

At Escar-Go-Go in Montreal, it includes tuna, crab stick, tempura, avocado, cucumber and spicy mayonnaise. Anything goes...although the real queation is: Why name good sushi after a suicide attack?



Authentic crab meat, always served cooked (though often cooked and then frozen—ask the sushi chef). If you can get real, fresh crab, it is worth the price. Real king crab is the leg meat of the red king crab, Paralithodes camtschaticus. It is also called Kamchatka crab or Alaska king crab.


Compare the real thing at right to the photo of imitation crab leg, directly below it.

Real king crab. Photo courtesy Phillips Seafood.


Imitation crabmeat, also called sea leg. It is usually made from pollack or other inexpensive whitefish (hake, tilapia) that has been ground, combined into a paste with starch, egg white, salt, vegetable oil, sugar and seasonings, and formed, artificially colored and flavored to resemble a more expensive seafood—lobster, shrimp, crab, etc. This type of imitation seafood is known categorically as surimi. Kanikama is primarily used in California rolls, although it also can be served in a salad. Imitation crab does not taste like the real thing—it is just an approximation, as a veggie burger approximates a beef burger.

  Kani Crabstick Sushi
Kani, called crab leg and sea leg, is imitation crab meat. Photo courtesy






Pressed persimmon leaf sushi, a type of pressed sushi that is a specialty of Nara, the capital city of Nara Prefecture in the Kansai region of Japan.


Kaninohazushi is a particular kind of pressed sushi (oshi-zushi), which translates to “pressed sushi wrapped in persimmon leaf.” It is a specialty of Nara, a town in the Ishikawa Prefecture, located on the island of Honshu.

The leaves have a strong antibacterial affect, and are originally used to wrap mackerel (saba), which has particular parasites. The raw mackerel is first cured by salting and marinating, and the leaves themselves are cured in salt. so the persimmon leaf serves as a “multi-process cure” (today, this is not necessary but the tradition endures).


After the mackerel is cured, it is is pressed on top of rice in a wood box used to make all ozshi-zushi. Individual cut rectangles are then removed and wrapped in persimmon leaves (top photo at right), placed back into the box, topped with a weight and placed in a cool to cure some more for a few days. The persimmon leaves are discarded before eating [source].



Top: Wrapping macherel in a persimmon leaf. Photo courtesy Ana Cool Japan. Bottom: a plate of assorted ozushi, pressed or boxed sushi, with kaninozushi at rear. Photo courtesy

Kaninohazushi is an easy grab-and-go lunch, requiring no utensils to eat. Here’s more about it from Matcha Japan Travel Magazine.


A historical note: Nara was the first capital city of Japan, and received the best produce from all over. Many food historians credit Nara as the origin of “true” Japanese food. Buddhist vegetarian cuisine developed among the religious groups in the area [source].




Very young yellowtail. Read our review of Kona Kampachi.





Cucumber roll. The word for cucumber is kyuri; Kappa is a water goblin in Japanese mythology who was very fond of cucumbers, which he stole from the fields near his riverbank home. He is always pictured with a saucer on his head that looks like a cucumber slice. According to myth, the saucer must always be kept full of water or Kappa loses his goblin powers.



  Kappa Maki - Sushi
Photo of kappa maki, at left, by Quayside | IST.


Flounder or flatfish.



Bonito, a type of tuna related to the skipjack. Bonito is the English word, katsuo the Japanese word. See bonito.



Katsuo are  bonito flakes, a seasoning made of dried katsuo fish (first photo), called bonito. The dried bonito is shaved or flaked. The process for creating the flakes is complex: Fillets are simmered, deboned, smoked and smoked again the following day. They then goe through a final fermentation stage. A less costly version, but still quality, is called aragatsuo. It is sold shaved and packaged as katsuo-kezuri-bushi or hanakatsuo.


It is also served tataki-style (seared), when it is called katsuo-no-tataki.





Top: Katsuo, bonito in English. Photo courtesy Web-Japan. Bottom: Katso-bushi, bonito flakes. Photo courtesy



Herring roe. It can be served raw (kazunoko konbu) in sushi or sashimi. The bright yellow roe sacs hold many tiny eggs; the sac is sliced for sushi and sashimi. A salty roe, it is usually served marinated in broth, saké and shoyu for added flavor.




Here’s more about kazunoko from Re-Discovery Japan.



Gold eye sea bream, more rare than regular sea bream, tai.



Bay scallops.



Gizzard shad, known for its shimmering silver skin. See a photo of three shimmering fish, sushi dane.



Saltwater carp.


Bay scallops are served as sashimi in a cucumber cup or scallop shell, or in a gunkan-maki. Photo courtesy I Love Blue Sea.


One of the key ingredients in Japanese cuisine (it is one of three ingredients needed to make dashi, the basic Japanese soup stock), it is also eaten fresh as sashimi. (Photo at right.) Kombu mainly is cultivated in the cold current, and grows from 7 to 20 meters in two years. Most kombu is harvested in Hokkaido, the northern island of Japan. There are numerous varieties. Kombu (kelp) and wakame (seaweed) are similar in how they look, but they are quite different. Wakame grows in warm current,s Kombu naturally contains glutamic acid (a component of MSG), which is used to make food more tasty. First year and second year kombu are quite different in their thickness and nutritive value, and this reflects directly in the price; the difference is obvious when you make the dashi-soup with it.

Kombu is kelp. Photo courtesy

Kombu will drop off the stalk after its first year, and a new and superior second year kombu grows on the stump. The most superior kombu is more than 5 times the cost of the cheapest variety.



This popular Japanese sport fishs is variously called sea bream, blackhead seabream or Japanese black porgy in English.


It is easily confused with tai, red snapper. One way to distinguish them is that the red stripes on the skin of kurodai are more pronounced. (Or, ask your server!)




Black sesame seeds.





Red sea bream. Photo courtesy



Live shrimp sushi or sashimi are a delicacy in Japan. The shrimp are swallowed alive, the shrimp taken from an aquarium, peeled and immediately handed to the customer in sushi or sashimi for for consumption. The shrimp do squirm as they are chewed (or swallowed, by the more squeamish tourists), which is part of the excitement. See also ikizukuri. In Thailand, live shrimp are eaten in a dish called “dancing shrimp.”



See saba.



Live Spot Prawns

Live spot prawns. Photo courtesy Catalina Offshore.



Sea bream, a white fish which has red stripes in the translucent, white flesh and is often mistaken by newbies for fluke, which has random splotches of red (but not stripes) in translucent, white flesh.



Red, beefy maguro, along with ahi the leading varieties of sushi tuna, is America’s most popular raw fish. Regular maguro is the leaner part of the tuna, from the sides and back of the fish (toro, the belly, is the fatty “delicacy” portion). With thick, firm flesh, it is one of the most flavorful of raw fish. Lean tuna cut from the back of the fish is called akami.


Different species of maguro run at different times of the year: blue fin tuna (hon-maguro) from September to March, big eye tuna (mebachi maguro) after April. The albacore tuna (shiro-maguro or white tuna) is not considered as choice as these two, or the ahi tuna or yellowfin tuna. Spicy tuna rolls are an Americanization.


Interestingly, tuna, now the most prized fish, was eschewed for most of its history in Japanese cuisine.


Prior to around the 1920s, no self-respecting Japanese person would eat any kind of tuna. It had an official term of disparagement, gezakana, “inferior fish,” for its perceived metallic taste! Even after the 1920s when tuna became accepted as quality cuisine, the toro, the fat belly that today is the priciest cut, was avoided. Only impoverished laborers with no other choice would eat it.


Here’s more about it.


Maguro, the “sirloin” or tuna. Above, sashimi, photo courtesy SushTrainer .com. Below: the popular roll, tekka-maki, photo courtesy Tenzan | NYC.



Maki is the Japanese word for “roll,” or rolled sushi. While nigiri-sushi is a relatively recent development, maki sushi originated with Buddhist monks in the 13th century. Maki sushi wraps a sheet of toasted seaweed (nori) and a layer of rice around a different fish, vegetable or other fillings (sometimes, cucumber, egg crêpe or tofu is used as the wrapper). Su-maki is a regular roll, futo-maki is a large roll and te-maki is a hand roll. While some maki have special names, you can order anything in a roll by naming it and adding the word maki (saba-maki, uni-maki, hamachi-maki, etc.) and your wishes will be understood.



The bamboo mat used to roll sushi.



Cucumber Maki Sushi

Maki with a cucumber wrap instead of seaweed. Photo, at right, by Vasko Miokovic | IST.


Smelt or capelin roe. Capelin roe is similar to tobiko but slightly more orange in color.


Trout. Rainbow trout is nijimasu.


Young tuna.


Mentaiko, the salted roe of Alaska pollock is a popular culinary ingredient. The roe from Alaska was The food was introduced to Japan after World War II, although it has been enjoyed in Korea for a much longer time. The spicy version of the roe , flavored with cayenne or other red pepper, is called mantaiko. A milder versionis called tarako. The roe is combined with scallops (hotate) as sashimi, served in a scallop shell; or in a gunkan maki. Here’s a recipe with spaghetti.


perm sacs of fish and other seafood. See shirako.



Sweet rice wine. Mirin is used for cooking, and a small amount is added to sushi rice along, with the vinegar.



Two ty pes of roe: above, masago sashimi on a shiso leaf. Photo courtesy Catalina Offshore Products. Below: Mentaiko, pollock roe. Photo courtesy San Francisco Food.


A giant, long-necked clam or horseneck clam, also known as geoduck, pronounced gooey duck (photos at right). It is harvested in the Pacific northwest. It is slightly crunchy, like other clams used for sashimi, and the meat has a natural sweetness.


The neck meat has a delicately mild flavor with the crisp, crunchy texture of cucumber. The body meat is tender and has a balanced shellfish flavor.


Giant clam can be served as sushi, sashimi or ceviche; the body can also be sautéed or steamed. One whole, cleaned geoduck averages 1.5 to 2 pounds.


Top: mirugai a.k.a geoduck and giant clam. Top: photo courtesy OKS Food. Bottom photo, the clam sliced as sashimi, courtesy Shizuoka Gourmet.

Geoduck Sashimi



Often offered as a precursor to a sushi or sashimi meal. A traditional Japanese soup consisting of dashi (stock made from kelp and katsuo-bushi) mixed with miso (soybean) paste. Other ingredients are added depending on regional and seasonal recipes; the soup is often served in the U.S. with bits of green onion and cubes of tofu or strips of aburage.

Miso soup. Photo courtesy Wikimedia.



Moriawase indicates a plate of assorted sushi. It is mostly nigiri, but can contain maki and gunkan maki as well: It is the choice of rthe sushi chef, but typically includes popular items. A deluxe moriawase upgrades the items to include pricier choices.


Moriawase is also known as a mixed sushi platter or plate.  See also omakase.

Sushi moriawase Photo courtesy Appetite For Instruction.


O-musubi are a type of o-nigiri, the rice balls that are a Japanese snack.
Spam musubi has become a popular snack and lunch food in Hawaii. It comprises a slice of grilled Spam atop a block of rice, wrapped together with nori in the tradition of Japanese omusubi. Spam “musubi” is also served nigiri-style, wrapped with a strip of seaweed like tamago sushi. It can be gussied up, e.g. with a drizzle of eel sauce. August 8th is National SPAM Musubi Day and July 31st is National SPAM Day. The history of SPAM musubi and 25+ SPAM musubi recipes.




Continue To Page 6: Definitions N To P

Go To Alphabet Index Bar Above


  SPAM Musubi
Spam musubi. Photo © SPAM Brand Institute.


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