Seafood is one of the most common types of neta (the toppings of sushi). When eating sushi, you may encounter many different types of ingredients, sometimes identified by their Japanese titles.
Types of Neta: Raw Fish
Sushi chefs utilize many species of fish to create a variety of different tastes. Fish are served raw and cooked, depending on the recipe.
Some examples include:
• Hirame is Japanese for flounder, while Ika translates to squid.
• Sake (salmon). This fish shares a name with a popular Japanese alcoholic drink.
• Toro (bluefin Tuna). Tuna is one of the most popular sushi ingredients. A fatty bluefin tuna belly is called chutoro, while the fattiest part of the tuna belly is called otoro. The top loin of the bluefin tuna is called maguro.
Types of Neta: Shellfish and Other Seafood Toppings
Fish aren’t the only neta out there. Shellfish, fish eggs and eels are common ingredients in sushi.
Some examples of neta and their translations include:
• Ama-ebi translates to shrimp, while boiled shrimp is simply called ebi in Japanese.
• Hamaguri translates to clam.
• Ikura translates to salmon roe, or salmon eggs. Other types of fish eggs commonly used include herring, sea urchins and flying fish.
• Kani is Japanese for crab.
• Tako translates to octopus.
• Unagi, a very popular type of neta, translates to Freshwater eel.
Cautions with Raw Types of Neta
Popular neta for sushi, like fish and shellfish, offer many wonderful dietary benefits, like essential nutrients and high-quality protein. They contain Omega-3 fatty acids and are low in saturated fat.
Seafood does come with some safety risks, especially if served raw. You’re at greater risk for food-borne illnesses. Young children, older adults, pregnant women and people with compromised immune systems should avoid consumption.
When making your own sushi, buy fresh refrigerated or iced fish. Fish should smell mild and fresh, while the fish’s eyes should be clear. Fish fillets should have firm, shiny flesh and no darkening or drying around the edges.
For westernized sushi, many people use frozen fish as it’s hard to get some traditional Japanese ingredients fresh outside of the country. Frozen seafood should only be purchased if the package isn’t open, torn or crushed.