Sushi Toppings You Can Find in Japan and When to Eat Them


Are you in Japan looking to try sushi toppings, but have no idea what to order? Well, we are here to help! Sushi is something you definitely have to try when you come to Japan, and we’ve compiled a handy list to help you in your sushi adventure. Whether you’re feeling brave or a little dubious, there is something for everyone on this list! The fish are classified into several types, so click on a category that you want to try! Following Bestechz to find out now!


Sushi Toppings You Can Find in Japan and When to Eat Them

Uni (Sea Urchin)

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An acquired taste even in Japan, uni is the reproductive organs of the sea urchin, and is considered quite a delicacy. The taste of uni varies widely depending on quality and freshness, so it’s best to splurge when it comes to this treasure from the sea. Salty and umami (savory) with a creamy, melt-in-your-mouth texture, the taste is comparable to salmon roe. It’s appearance, however, is much less appetizing. Uni is most often prepared as nigiri (pressed over vinegar rice) or gunkan, which is nigiri sushi wrapped with a strip of nori seaweed.


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Also known as whitebait, shirasu are tiny fish fry, typically the young of herring, sardines or anchovy. Whitebait are a delicacy in many parts of the world, but they are not particularly rare or expensive in Japan. These tiny fish are eaten whole, and are a source of calcium and other important minerals. As a sushi topping, shirasu are usually cooked, but fresh, raw shirasu are available seasonally in certain parts of Japan such as Kamakura and Shizuoka City.

Toro salmon

1. Toro salmon

Meaning “melt” in Japanese, the toro cut of a fish refers to the soft, fatty belly section and tends to be prized in sushi restaurants everywhere. Fatty and rich in flavor, served raw or slightly grilled, this cut of salmon has an extremely tender texture.

Maguro (tuna)

3. Maguro (tuna)

Tuna – and bluefin in particular – are a rather large type of fish, growing up to 3 meters (just over 9 feet). As a result, the texture and flavor varies greatly depending on where on the body the cut of fish is taken from.

Deep reddish-purple in color, the akami cut is quite lean, leading to a clean and slightly meaty flavor. Akami usually comes plain, but is also often served zuke-maguro style, where is it pickled in soy sauce or a mixture of condiments.

Kampachi (yellowtail)

11. Kampachi (yellowtail)

As with different meats (lamb vs. mutton), some types of fish are known by a different word to differentiate age. When a yellowtail reaches mid-maturity, it is called kampachi. They are caught along the coast of Central and South Honshu, coming into season from early summer to autumn. When sliced for sushi, kampachi have an elegant cream color with a pink edge. The fish has a clean, mild and slightly sweet flavor, and is usually served as-is.

Kohada (gizzard shad)

15. Kohada (gizzard shad)- Sushi Toppings You Can Find in Japan
Sushi Toppings You Can Find in Japan

Together with iwashiaji and sanmakohada is another of the shiny silver sushi fish. Traditionally it is served with its dazzling silver skin on display atop the nigiri, with pieces either scored, layered or decoratively woven. With quite a bold taste indeed, kohada is often marinated first in vinegar and salt to balance out its flavor.

Ika (squid)

19. Ika (squid)Sushi Toppings You Can Find in Japan
Sushi Toppings You Can Find in Japan

Now while there are several types of squid in Japan, one of the most popular is surume ika. This is nearly always served on top of rice, scored lengthways, crossways or cross-hatched. Sometimes a shiso leaf will be placed between the ika and rice, as its aromatic flavor goes well with the soft, sweet squid.

Hotate (scallops)

20. Hotate (scallops)
Sushi Toppings You Can Find in Japan

Scallops are a common favorite sushi topping. They have an extremely smooth, glossy flesh with a gentle and slightly sweet flavor. To prepare scallops for nigiri, the round flesh is sliced across the center to butterfly it, then pressed onto the shari. The sweetness of the scallop works well with a little citrus.

Negitoro (ねぎとろ)

Sushi Toppings You Can Find in Japan
Sushi Toppings You Can Find in Japan

Negitoro consists of meat from around the backbone of tuna that is scraped off and chopped finely, placed on top of rice and topped with green onion. The whole thing is wrapped in nori (seaweed). Available throughout the year, you can get it quite reasonably at any conveyor belt sushi restaurants. Because the fish is mushy, it is easy to eat, even if you’re not too keen on sushi.