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All About Sushi Toppings: The Popular & The Unusual

on 27th Feb, 2020

Experimenting with different types of food is always great fun. Trying out different styles from new and interesting cultures is one of life’s great adventures, whether you’re cooking or eating out with friends. Discovering new things you enjoy (and some things you don’t!) should be in your must-list this 2020.

One of the most interesting types of cuisine that became popular in the late 20th/early 21st century is sushi. A Japanese dish that is often made with raw fish, there’s so much more to it that a lot of foodies do not realise. It’s a dish that is historic, flexible and… often unusual.

Sushi really became popular at the forefront of the food scene in the early 20th century, with the invention of the refrigerator. The fridge allowed raw fish to be consumed over longer periods, stored in different forms and included in dishes that were less popular in different areas of the world. This type of invention allowed new restaurants to pop up and new fans to start enjoying this unique dish.

Learn more about the history of sushi here

The growth of sushi in the food industry also allowed for the food to become more widespread. Keeping its interesting and beautiful form, the relatively inexpensive meal catered for people of all demographics and is now available at shopping malls, supermarkets and regular town centres. The idea that this food from afar land wasn't obtainable was no more, all thanks to secure and stable cold storage.

The history of sushi in traditional Japanese society long out-weights the more westernised history of the meal. Around for longer than 1800 years, sushi was first thought-up as a way of storing fish for much longer, as it was found that storing fish in rice would help it ferment for longer.

It’s from there that we have sushi as we know it today. Experimentation with sushi will continue, with different styles being created all the time and across the world. As traditional sushi will always be popular, chefs and foodies all over the world will continue to create unusual flavours using unusual delicacies. Here, we’ll be taking a look at the different types of sushi toppings available and some of the less traditional flavours and styles on the market.

Sanma

Sanma, also known as the Pacific saury or mackerel pike, is a fish that travels East in autumn, the season when the fish is most flavourful. Placed raw on top of a bed of rice is the most popular way to eat this dish. It can be, however, served aburi style (where the fish is partially grilled and partially raw) where the fishes’ natural oils seep out, adding extra flavour to the meal, adding extra flavour to the meal.

Katsuo

Katsuo - Sushi Counter Dubai Katsuo, or skipjack tuna, is one of the earliest styles of sushi, which is understandable considering the length of time tuna has been a popular meal choice. Dating back as far as 1600, this sushi topping is meaty and flavoursome and is a great entry-level sushi dish if you're newer to the cuisine. To round off the flavour, herbs (often ginger or coriander) are added to the top of the tuna meat. Even though Katsuo is much richer in the winter, this is a year-round sushi topping.

Mentaiko

Here comes the first of our more unusually flavoured sushi options - mentaiko. A pollock fish marinated in chilli sauce, this flavour actually originates from Korea, where the fish is included in different types of meals, not solely sushi. Popularised in pasta, sandwiches and more, this sushi topping has a little kick but is great if you're looking to impress dinner guests with a world-wide take on a traditional dish.

Kohada

Kohada is a silver-looking fish, served up in its skin and marinated in salt and vinegar before serving (this is to tame the strong fishy smell). This topping may not be loved by many sushi beginners because of its appearance and smell, plus the fact that it is served raw on top of the vinegared rice. Still, it’s definitely a must-try for adventurous sushi fans. 

Tako

Tako - Sushi Counter Dubai For some, this may be another unusual dish, depending on how experimental you've been with your seafood in the past! Tako (the Japanese word for octopus) sushi is blanched before being added to a bed of rice and attached by nori (seaweed) to give the usually bland octopus meat some added flavour. Although the octopus is a rarer type of seafood, its flavour is mild and tame.

Uni

Sushi is already as interesting as it is today – what more if you add sea urchins on top! Uni is the term for the reproductive organs of both genders of sea urchin, so there's a serious chance that you've never tried uni sushi before! Sure, it sounds a bit weird, but the salty flavour and creamy texture make it for a delicious sushi topping. Uni is considered something of a speciality around the world, and is often sold at over $400USD per kilo! Now imagine how much it'd cost you when you add that to your sushi. Weird, pricey but absolutely exciting!

Hotate

Hotate - Sushi Counter Dubai
Hotate sushi is one of the most popular styles of sushi toppings, probably because of the slightly sweet flavour that makes it easily palatable for anyone new to the cuisine. The scallop on top of the rice is served nigiri and sliced down through the centre, often with a citrus juice added to compliment the sweet flavour of the fish.



Unagi

Have you ever tried eel before? Well, this might be the best place to start! A simple dish that involves grilling the eel and marinating it in either a soy-based sauce called tare or served with salt and citrus, this interesting sushi topping is a great way to experiment away from the traditional styles typically associated with this cuisine. Due to the appearance and the way the fish was cooked, this sushi dish makes you go off typical sushi!

Natto

This vegetarian-style sushi topping is far from being bland. Natto is fermented soybeans and outside of Japan, it is considered one of the foulest meals to come from Asia! This may be so, but the harsh taste of the soybeans only masks genuine health benefits of this meal. If you need any more evidence that this meal will grow on you, look no further than the locals of Japan who adore this dish. This is certainly one to try if you're fond of unusual flavours and looking for some sushi adventure.

Tamagoyaki

Omlette - Sushi Counter Dubai This sushi topping is unusual for the fact that it is an omelette (yes, omelette!) placed on top of the sushi rice, and is actually one of the most popular around. Sure, it's straying far away from the traditional fish meal that you may come to expect, but for

Westerners especially, this dish offers an easy way to start off your sushi journey. It allows a newbie to get used to the taste of soy and rice together whilst still having the egg omelette texture as a familiar taste, and it can even be eaten at breakfast time!

Ebi

Ebi (or prawn) sushi topping is one of the most commonly found Japanese dishes both nationally and internationally, and is an entry-level dish for aspiring sushi fans. The texture of the meal isn't unfamiliar - the usual rough, quite slippery feel of prawns works well with the dry, compact rice parcel. These dishes are found anywhere from the high street to the restaurant bars and all in between. A great place to start your sushi journey so keep an eye out if you're looking for sushi in Dubai or anywhere in the UAE!

WagyuWagyu - Sushi Counter Dubai

Wagyu beef is a non-traditional sushi topping that is often used in other countries on different dishes. A slice of Wagyu beef is placed on top of the rice and topped with garnish. The beef itself can be eaten rare or cooked on a grill to extract the juices and give the dish some extra flavour.

Fugu

Are you ready for a really unusual sounding sushi topping? Fugu - or blowfish - sushi is a rarity and a risky one at that! Blowfish, by usual standards, is a poisonous fish that should never be consumed. Chefs are trained specifically and painstakingly to have the skills to handle blowfish meat and for that reason, fugu is a rarely eaten treat. Due to its rarity, very few Japanese restaurants all over the world are licensed to offer this delicacy. In fact, most countries ban their use altogether!

Negitoro

Another tuna-based sushi dish, negitoro is meat from around the bone and skin that is finely minced and topped with green onion and seaweed. As with most of the tuna-based sushi meals, this can be eaten all year round and readily available from any good food retailers in Japan and many restaurants around the world. And because the texture of this dish is soft and tender, it makes it one of the easiest sushi options for beginners. 
Looking for more sushi tips for beginners? Read Ultimate Guide to Eating Sushi for the First Time.

Mekajiki

This sushi topping is a delicious, soft meat that simply falls apart upon eating but still feels like a nice experimental meal. Seriously, who wouldn't love to try swordfish? A thick slice of meat on top of a bed of rice, this tasty treat is available all year round and is offered at many sushi bars - but beware: because there is actually minimal edible meat on a swordfish, this dish is usually pretty pricey.

Aji

This horse mackerel dish is a very mild dish that is common amongst Japanese sushi shops and across the world. A slice of skin-on fish, garnished with wasabi on top of rice, this fish is best served in the spring or summer months (May - September, to be precise) so this should be on your must-try list during those seasons.

Toro Salmon

Maybe you're familiar with salmon - after all, it's one of the best fish for sushi in the market. Toro salmon (or salmon belly) could be the best place for you to start as a beginner. The texture and taste are very similar to the salmon you know and is tender and flavoursome. Whilst this may not be the most unusual or adventurous sushi topping, it surely is one that you can eat all year round and find in many sushi restaurants across the world.Tuna Platter - Sushi Counter

Toro Taku

Instead of a topping, the tuna in Toro Taku sushi is in the form of a roll. Toro (tuna meat found in the belly) mixed with Taku (pickled radish) sushi roll is a must-try for beginners. This is the type of sushi that you’ll likely to see in the supermarket or a high-street chain.

Shime-saba

One of the main benefits to sushi is that it’s one of the leanest and healthiest meals in the culinary scene. That, as well as being flavoursome and tasty, is one of its main draws. And the shime-saba (marinated mackerel) could prove that. High in omega and low in calories, as well as cheap and easily accessible, this fresh and quick sushi bite is perfect for both sushi beginners and sushi fanatics.

Topping It All Up!

Sushi provides almost unlimited possibilities. It’s always evolving. Many restaurants and chefs are always developing new types of sushi toppings to suit different flavour profiles and draw new people to the cuisine. Whilst traditional Japanese chefs will always stay close to the more traditional fish toppings, such as salmon and tuna, people from around the world try and evolve the dish to suit new trends.

California Roll - Sushi Counter Dubai Take the California roll, for example. This was created to suit a newer demographic of sushi consumers and now it’s one of the most popular types in the market. And we think (and know!) that this type of evolution will only continue.

Now you've had a look at some of the sushi options on the table, you may now be craving for some! Well, you've come to the right place. Sushi Counter offers you some of the best sushi dishes in the region. Servicing Dubai, Abu Dhabi and Saudi Arabia, we offer great prices and a vast array of dishes to suit all palettes. Order your sushi today and we’ll be glad to deliver. 

All About Sushi Toppings: The Popular & The Unusual

Experimenting with different types of food is always great fun. Trying out different styles from new and interesting cultures is one of life’s great adventures, whether you’re cooking or eating out with friends. Discovering new things you enjoy (and some things you don’t!) should be in your must-list this...