sushi vs sashimi

Sushi vs Sashimi: What Are The Differences?

Are you a sushi fanatic? If that is the case, then you know that sushi and sashimi are two very different things. If you are not sure about their differences, then this is the article for you. 

Keep reading to find out why sushi and sashimi are not the same! You will learn much more about it.

What Is Sushi?

Sushi is a Japanese dish of vegetables, raw seafood, or other ingredients wrapped in algae and rice. The usual seafood used in sushi is eel, salmon, tuna, or imitation crab. The rice of choice is medium-grain white rice, but brown rice might also be used. 

In Japanese culture, sushi has been around for centuries. There are many variations to sushi, including Chirashizushi, Inarizushi, Makizushi, Narezushi, Nigirizushi, and Oshizushi. The difference between these sushi types includes serving it in a bowl, with fried tofu on the outside, or as a rolled sushi piece with rice and seaweed.

Many individuals think of sushi and imagine the Western version of it. Due to increasing popularity in the West, sushi has become a staple food that is very different from its Japanese original. Western sushi includes combinations such as beef, chicken, teriyaki sauce, or tempura.

Western sushi also includes cream cheese, which is not something that the original Japanese rolls would have. Common and popular combinations include the Philadelphia roll, which has cream cheese, avocado, and salmon. The California roll is also popular, and it contains avocado, imitation crab, fish roe, and cucumber.

For the most part, sushi comes with wasabi paste on the side and fermented ginger. Although not common in Japan, in the West, sushi is dipped in soy sauce. In other cases, sauces that contain horseradish, mayonnaise, and other ingredients might be used.

Sushi is a good source of protein and is also relatively low in fat. However, as with anything that contains raw food, there is a risk for contamination and food poisoning. Since the Western version of sushi contains a fried coating, it can be high in calories and fat.


Nutrition Facts

One cup of a California roll (150 g) has the following nutritional content (*):

  • 140 calories
  • 115 g water
  • 4.38 g protein
  • 1 g fat
  • 27.6 g carbohydrate
  • 1.5 g fiber
  • 3.2 g sugar
  • 9 mg calcium
  • 0.33 mg iron
  • 19.5 mg magnesium
  • 90 mg phosphorus
  • 70.5 mg potassium
  • 642 mg sodium
  • 6 mg cholesterol

Is Sushi Healthy?

In its original form, sushi is simply a combination of fermented rice, seaweed, and fish or vegetables. This is a very healthy dish with little fat. However, it does contain a high carbohydrate content but can be high in protein too.

Maki or Western sushi can be higher in sugar and carbohydrate because of its ingredients. Cream cheese is a fresh cheese that has a high sugar content, and rolls like the Philadelphia are higher in sugar too. These types also contain imitation crab, which can be high in sugar and sodium.

Depending on the preparation, it can also be very starchy. Sushi is already a starchy grain, but the one used is even higher in this sugar. However, when you prepare it as tempura, it can be very fatty and salty.

It is also worth noting that raw fish is not suitable for pregnant women because it contains a high mercury content, which can be dangerous. In general, consuming raw foods comes with the risk of contamination and infection. Eating sushi is not dangerous to the general public, but those with lower immunity and certain disease states should be careful when eating it.

Finally, this dish comes with various condiments. Soy sauce is high in sodium and contains wheat but is relatively healthy and has no calories. Other sauces, like mayonnaise-based ones, are very high in fat and salt.

What Is Sashimi?

Sashimi is a Japanese dish consisting of raw fish or meat. The pieces are thin and often come with soy sauce for dipping. A sashimi plate consists of various pieces of fish or meat served together.

The word sashimi is Japanese for “pierced body”. Some believe that the word stems from the practice of piercing the fish’s brain after catching it and placing it on ice. This practice is called the ikejime process, which results in the quick death of the fish and prevents excess lactic acid.

Since the fish is killed quickly, it can stay fresh in ice for up to 10 days. Unlike sushi, sashimi never has rice, and it is only a piece of fish or meat. The fish and meat are always raw can come with miso soup or a cup of rice on the side.

Sashimi is considered fine dining, and Japanese consider you should eat it before any other dish to avoid ruining the flavor. The raw fish or meat is served on top of a garnish, which might be daikon, a Japanese radish. The dish also comes with wasabi paste and freshly grated ginger.

Other sauces include ponzu sauce, which is a citrus and soy-based condiment. You can also get wasabi paste mixed into the soy sauce. Usually, fish or seafood for sashimi includes salmon, shrimp, tuna, mackerel, octopus, tuna, sea urchin, scallop, and yellowtail.

Some chewy seafood, like octopus, might be cooked before serving. Sometimes sashimi can include horse meat, beef, and even raw chicken, which is highly dangerous due to bacteria contamination with Salmonella. Vegetarian options include avocado, bamboo shoots, daikon, and tofu.


Nutrition Facts

One cup of salmon sashimi (166 g) has the following nutritional content (*):

  • 211 calories
  • 125 g water
  • 34 g protein
  • 7.3 g fat
  • 0 g carbohydrate
  • 0 g fiber
  • 0 g sugar
  • 11.6 mg calcium
  • 0.631 mg iron
  • 44.8 mg magnesium
  • 433 mg phosphorus
  • 608 mg potassium
  • 124 mg sodium
  • 76.4 mg cholesterol

Is Sashimi Healthy?

As you can see, sashimi is a good source of protein, considering the only ingredient is either meat or fish. Sashimi has little fat, and most of it comes from the fatty fish tuna or salmon, which are high in essential fatty acids. The dish quality depends on the quality of the fish you use. 

As with sushi, raw fish can be high in mercury and comes with the risk of contamination. Tuna and salmon are relatively safe fish to eat raw. Still, other fish or seafood comes with more risks when you eat it raw.

You can also prepare sashimi with raw beef or chicken. Although raw beef has its risks, it is safer than raw chicken. Consuming raw chicken is extremely dangerous and might result in food poisoning from Salmonella.

Unlike sushi, sashimi is low in sodium and sugar because the fish or meat do not contain much. Using red meat will increase the sodium and iron content of sashimi. The soy sauce it comes with might have a higher sodium content too.

The fish in sashimi is also a good source of vitamins and minerals, including potassium, magnesium, and phosphorus. You can consume sashimi when on a ketogenic or paleo diet since it contains no carbohydrates. Sashimi is traditionally not vegetarian, but you can exchange meat for fresh vegetables.

What Are The Key Differences Between Sushi and Sashimi?

The main difference between sushi and sashimi is the ingredients. Sushi contains rice, seaweed, vegetables, and fish or meat. Sashimi is just a piece of raw fish or meat served thinly sliced.

Another key difference is how you serve sushi. Sushi can come with multiple condiments, including sauces or garnishes, and a tempura coating.  Sashimi is served alone with a side of soy sauce, ponzu sauce, or wasabi paste.

The variations between sushi and sashimi are also different. You can serve sushi in multiple ways, such as in a bowl, a burrito, nigiri, maki, and more. However, sashimi comes only in its original form, where fish is raw.

The fish used in sushi and sashimi is also not always the same. While sushi can include tuna, yellowfish, and salmon, it might also have shrimp, crab, eel, and more. Sashimi consists of thinly sliced seafood that is rich in flavor, like salmon, tuna, mackerel, and sometimes shrimp.

Another difference to note is that sushi has cooked ingredients. Sushi rice always has to be cooked, and Western variations include cooking one or more of the ingredients. Sashimi, by nature, is never cooked unless chewy seafood, like octopus, is served.

The final difference is the price of these dishes. Sushi can be very cheap, but the price range depends on the ingredients. Sashimi is more expensive because the fish or meat used is high quality, and it takes time to cut it.

Sushi vs Sashimi Main DifferencesSushiSashimi
Origin JapanJapan 
Protein Fish, beef, chicken, seafood, and vegetablesFish and seafood 
Taste and AromaThe flavor depends on the ingredients, but it can be sweet, savory, and acidic. The aroma also depends on the garnishes, but it is often tangy The flavor is fishy and buttery. The aroma is subtle but it often smells like seafood 
Preparation   Can be prepared in various ways, raw, cooked, in tempura, a bowl, or cone-shapedThe fish and meat are always raw and served sliced thinly. The only time it is cooked is when the protein of choice is chewy, like with octopus 
Calories per 100 gram serving93 calories 127 calories 

Sashimi vs Sushi: Which One Is Healthier?

While both sushi and sashimi can be healthy, sashimi is healthier. Since it is raw and fatty fish, the caloric content might be higher, but the protein too. Sushi contains fried and starchy ingredients.

Eating raw fish or meat is not always a good idea, and it is safe for pregnant and lactating women. If you are immunocompromised, it might be better to go with vegetable or cooked sushi than sashimi. Otherwise, sashimi is a high protein source that contains little fat and no carbohydrates.

The Japanese consider sashimi a fine-dining dish, so it might not be affordable every day. Sushi is cheaper and offers more variety, but it can also be higher in sugar and fat. If you follow a low fat and low carb diet, sashimi is a better choice as it can also be high in protein.


Now you are ready to go to Japan and order the perfect dish. Sushi can offer more variety, but sashimi is a Japanese classic. You can enjoy sashimi before ordering a full meal, while sushi could be your entire meal.

See more: Nigiri vs sashimi

*images by serkucher&CHUCHAWAN/depositphotos

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