Sushi originally came from Japan, a place where many people made a job out of fishing. Fresh fish was sliced and made into sushi rolls.
As the fish is fresh, this makes it safe to eat, but a lot of people aren’t comfortable with the flavor and consistency of raw sushi.
This begs the question, can sushi be cooked?
Sushi rolls used to be made with raw fish, but today, you can find several cooked sushi rolls in grocery stores and some restaurants. Sushi doesn’t need to be raw to taste good, as you can find some cooked sushi rolls that taste amazing.
In this article, you’ll find the differences between raw and cooked sushi, as well as some cooked sushi (see also ‘What Goes Well with Sushi?‘) variations that you can try for yourself.
Differences Between Raw Sushi And Cooked Sushi
In the past, sushi was mainly eaten by those living along the Japanese coast. Fishers ate the fish soon after it was caught, as their schedule was too hectic to cook the fish. Now, we can preserve food, so sushi lovers can enjoy both raw and cooked sushi.
The only difference between these two types of sushi is that some rolls use cooked fish, while the others use fresh, raw fish. Some types of sushi don’t contain any fish, so these are suitable for vegetarians.
Is Raw Sushi Unhealthier Than Cooked Sushi?
In terms of nutrition, cooked and raw sushi aren’t that different. However, cooked fish is easily digested by the body, as heat disintegrates some of the protein within the fish.
Your body doesn’t have to digest as much protein in cooked fish, but it has to work harder to break down more protein in raw fish.
Is Artificial Crab Meat Raw Or Cooked?
Sushi that comes pre-packaged at the grocery store comes in several different varieties, but you’ll often find rolls that contain artificial crab meat.
They use this meat as it’s less expensive and doesn’t go off as fast as real crab meat. The flavor tastes pretty similar to the real thing, so it’s often added to Japanese salads.
Artificial crab meat may appear to be raw, but it is cooked. Its appearance comes from egg protein blended with crushed cooked fish, which also gives it its texture.
How To Enjoy Cooked Sushi
Cooked sushi may not be traditional, but you can still create pleasant dishes with it. A popular way of serving cooked sushi is by using cherry blossoms as a garnish, adding them to the side of the plate.
You can also pair alcoholic drinks that will enhance the flavor of the cooked fish. Examples of these include hot sake and Japanese whiskey (see also ‘How To Drink Japanese Whisky‘).
Well Known Varieties Of Cooked Sushi
Cooked sushi is ideal for those interested in trying sushi, but aren’t keen on tasting raw fish. It’s also a nice choice for pregnant people, or those worried about illness caused by raw food.
Raw sushi is always made from sushi-grade fish and prepared by qualified chefs. However, if you’d rather eat cooked food, you need to know about the different types of cooked sushi rolls.
Here’s a list of the most common types of cooked sushi. You can try these when you next eat at a Japanese restaurant, or you can even attempt to make these yourself at home.
California sushi rolls aren’t classic maki rolls, but they are one of the most commonly enjoyed types of sushi. This sushi variety is in high demand, at Japanese restaurants and sushi eateries in the west.
The California roll is an inside-out sushi roll. There’s a rice coating on the outside, while the seaweed remains on the inside. It uses crab sticks as a filling, along with cucumber and avocado.
Most restaurants will use artificial crab in their California rolls, which as we pointed out above, is cooked fish, not raw.
New York Sushi
If you like shrimp, you’ll love the New York roll. You can find this type of sushi in most western sushi restaurants. This is another inside-out roll that uses rice on the outside, but it also uses boiled shrimps on the inside as a filling.
New York rolls are simple to make at home too. You need to purchase a few readily available ingredients, including white shrimp, avocado, and cucumber.
As you boil the shrimp, add some spices and lemon juice for some more flavor. Once cooked, be sure to dip the shrimp’s back in cold water so they don’t overcook, otherwise, they’ll become tough and rubbery.
Smoked Salmon Sushi
Raw salmon (see also, ‘What is Ikura?‘) is often used in sushi, but you can get a similar taste by using smoked salmon as an ingredient. Smoked salmon sushi rolls are often less expensive compared to raw salmon sushi rolls.
Restaurants will prepare smoked salmon sushi as both inside-out rolls or classic maki rolls. You’ll often find these for sale in the grocery store, but you can also purchase smoked salmon and practice making your own rolls.
Smoked salmon has a nice flavor that goes well alongside avocado and cucumber. You can also add wasabi or spicy mayo to your liking, but they taste just as good without the spice too.
Spicy Chicken Sushi
This one is perfect for those that aren’t keen on seafood, but love chicken. Instead of fish, the spicy chicken roll uses cooked chicken breasts as a filling. Some places also mix the chicken with sriracha or spicy mayonnaise for a better taste.
Avocado and cucumber are also used inside the roll. Cucumber gives the roll a nice crunch, but the avocado keeps the roll soft. All of these ingredients combine for a spicy, yet refreshing sushi roll – and there’s no raw fish in sight.
The Bottom Line
Sushi rolls are traditionally made using raw fish, but you can still find cooked sushi rolls that taste good!
If you need to avoid raw fish for whatever reason, there are plenty of cooked sushi varieties for you to try, such as California and the New York roll.
If you want to be sure there’s no raw fish within your sushi, you can always opt for vegetarian and vegan options. These contain vegetables and condiments that taste just as good as sushi rolls containing fish.