There seems to be serious confusion about what sushi actually is. So, I thought I'd do a blog post about it.
Sushi is NOT raw fish. Sashimi is most commonly used to refer to raw fish. Sushi refers solely to rice flavored with vinegar and sugar.
Some of you are reporting that you are seeing rice marketed as "sushi rice". I would imagine that's just Japanese rice, which is medium grain and sticky when cooked. Rice is not sushi rice until its flavored. Here is a simple recipe for sushi rice:
3 cups Japanese-style rice
3 1/4 cups water
1/3 cup rice wine vinegar
2 tbsp sugar
1 tsp salt
After washing the rice well, cook it by pan or rice cooker. Prepare sushi vinegar (sushi-zu) by mixing rice vinegar, sugar and salt in a small pan.
Put the pan on low heat and cook until the sugar dissolves. Cool the vinegar mixture. Spread the cooked hot rice into a large plate (if you have it, use a wooden bowl called sushi-oke) by spatula. Sprinkle the vinegar mixture over the rice and fold the rice by shamoji very quickly. Be careful not to smash the rice. To cool and remove the moisture of the rice well, use a fan as you mix sushi rice. This will give sushi rice a shiny look. It's best to use it right away.
This is rolled sushi. It starts out looking like this:
Then its cut and served like this:
Maki sushi can be stuffed with all kinds of things from cooked eggs to vegetables to raw fish to cooked fish to imitation crab to cream cheese, etc...
Futomaki refers to the fat rolls pictured above. Hosomaki is a thin roll that usually just contains one ingredient.
Nigiri is generally an oval or kind of rectangular clump of sushi rice and almost always topped with some sort of seafood. Usually, we're talking cooked seafood. My favorite is ebi (cooked poo, ha ha ha no shrimp I mean) and the hubbin's favorite is unagi (eel). But, I've seen nigiri with egg and certainly also with raw fish. Sometimes the whole thing is anchored with a thin strip of seaweed (nori), sometimes not.
Inari is sushi rice wrapped in a little sort of pita pockets made of aburage (deep fried tofu). Lots of times the sushi rice will have little grated bits of carrot mixed in. These are usually pretty sweet tasting.
These are my favorite kinds of sushi. There are lots of others like Oshizushi, Gunkan, Temaki and even Chirashi which isn't a little clump of sushi rice but an entire bowl full of it with other seafood and vegetables spread over it. Maybe we'll do a Sushi 201 sometime with all those others. :D