Difference Between Sushi and Sashimi

You’ve probably heard the term sushi. You might have heard the term sashimi. What you might not know is the difference between the two or even if there is a difference between the two.

But there is. It is a very defined difference, too. One that a connoisseur of Japanese food would frown at if you used it the wrong way. So read on to find out the real difference between sushi and sashimi and what both terms mean.  


Sashimi literally means ‘pierced flesh’ in Japanese, and that is what it is exactly. When you order sashimi, you are going to be getting a plate of thinly sliced meat, usually salmon or tuna.

For purists, it is only real sashimi if it is on its own. Usually, when you order sashimi, you will receive it with radish, ginger, sauces, and sides.  

Sometimes, a restaurant will even have a tank of live fish on-site, allowing you to pick out which fish you would like to eat and have it served as entirely fresh as possible.  


Unlike what common knowledge would have you believe, sushi is nothing to do with raw fish. Instead, sushi specifically refers to the vinegared rice served with other ingredients.

Sushi means ‘sour tasting,’ because of the particular flavor of the rice, which was originally used to store food and keep it from going bad. However, modern sushi has little to do with the more traditional style, and only shares the name.

Modern sushi is prepared and served primarily with seafood, which can include uncooked fish, but also includes vegetables, fruits, ginger, wasabi, soy sauces as well as other ingredients.

There are multiple types of sushi. Some of the most popular varieties include:


This ‘scattered sushi’ served with the rice on the bottom of a bowl, topped with vegetables and fish. It is quick, straightforward and easy to make, and is one of the more modern forms.


These are fried tofu pouches filled with sushi rice. These are easy to eat, which is why they are common as a component of bento boxes.  


It is the sushi roll that you are probably familiar with, as it is such an attractive sight in sushi parlours across America.

There are multiple types of Makizushi, ranging in size from small, finger length pieces to large rolls that are thinly sliced and served on platters. The one thing they have in common? They are all rolls. Makizushi has evolved since hitting our shores too, with American style sushi rolls being the most common type we see, and even finding their way back to the coast of Japan.

Sushi v Sashimi

If you are still wondering about the distinct differences between sashimi and sushi, here is a handy list.

Is it cooked?

Sashimi is always raw. Sushi typically isn’t prepared, but some dishes are, and there is no reason why there can’t be cooked ingredients.

Is it healthy?

Sashimi is fish based, so it is high in Omega 3, fatty acids and other nutrients. Sea fish tends to be healthier than freshwater fish because there is less chance of parasites. Still, sashimi is not for pregnant women or anyone with immune system issues.  

Sushi is far higher in carbs and calories because it is a primarily rice based dish. However, most varieties are still considered healthy. As with sashimi, pregnant women or people with immune system deficiencies aren’t recommended to eat sushi.

What about the mercury issues?

If you’ve not heard about this, there are concerns over heavy metal contamination when eating large quantities of fish, mercury being primary amongst them.

While it is not something to worry about for most people, if you eat a lot of sushi or sashimi, it may be a concern. It is one of the primary reasons sushi is not recommended for pregnant women because the growing fetus is more vulnerable to lower concentrations of toxins.

However, this doesn’t mean you still can’t enjoy your sushi! Just don’t eat it every single meal, is all we are saying.

Difference Between Sushi and Sashimi: Now You Know

Now that you’ve got to the end of the article, hopefully now you understand the difference between sashimi and sushi. So now, when someone asks you is that sushi or sashimi, you will be able to give a definitive answer. Remember. Unless it is raw fish served as a main, with nothing but minor accompaniments, it is probably not sashimi.  

If you’ve got any further questions, or if there is something important you think we’ve missed, make sure to comment below. We would love to hear from you, so join the conversation.