Are Sushi Rolls Cooked?

Sushi originated in the coastal cities of Japan, where many inhabitants made their living off of fishing. One of the most common ways to enjoy freshly caught fish was to cut it up and create sushi rolls out of it. However, not everybody enjoys the texture and taste of raw sushi.

The other day, somebody asked me, “Are sushi rolls cooked? And if not, can they be cooked?

Traditionally, sushi rolls are not cooked. However, almost every restaurant and grocery store carries a small selection of sushi made with cooked fish. Cooked sushi tastes just as good as raw sushi, and in fact, some cooked sushi tastes even better.

In today’s post, I’ll break down some of the key differences between cooked and raw sushi. I’ll also answer some of the most commonly asked questions regarding cooked sushi. Finally, I’ll show you some of the most popular types of cooked sushi that you can try next time you eat out at a Japanese restaurant! 

What’s The Difference Between Cooked and Raw Sushi? 

In Japanese culture, eating sushi goes back almost as long as eating sukiyaki. Sushi was primarily consumed by cities along the coastline, while sukiyaki and teriyaki dishes were primarily consumed by the agricultural areas further inland (where livestock was raised). Often, fishers didn’t have time to cook their catch, so they ate it raw shortly after it was caught. 

Today, thanks to modern food preservation and special sushi restaurants, consumers can choose between both cooked and raw sushi options. The main difference between the two types of sushi is that one contains cuts of raw, freshly caught fish, while the other contains fully cooked fish. There are also some vegetarian sushi options that contain no raw fish at all! 

Is Cooked Sushi Healthier Than Raw Sushi? 

There isn’t any significant difference in nutritional value between raw and cooked sushi options. The one small difference that I’d point out is that cooking the fish makes it easier for your body to digest. The cooking process helps to break down the proteins within the fish. This, in turn, means that your body doesn’t have to work quite as hard to digest the food. 

Is Artificial Crab Meat Sushi Cooked?

If you go to a grocery store, one of the most popular pre-packaged sushi options you’ll find is artificial crab meat sushi. It’s cheap, doesn’t expire as quickly, and imitates the taste of real crab leg meat. In addition to sushi, it’s also a common additive in Japanese snacks and salads. 

While it may look raw, artificial crab meat is actually cooked. It’s comprised mostly out of ground, cooked fish mixed with egg protein to maintain its consistency. 

What’s The Best Way To Enjoy Cooked Sushi? 

Just because the sushi is cooked doesn’t mean that you can’t make a beautiful and tasty meal out of it. One of the most common ways to present a cooked sushi roll is by adding a few cherry blossoms as a garnish on the side. Last but not least, you can’t forget the drinks! Personally, I recommend a carafe of hot sake or a glass of Hibiki whiskey neat or on the rocks. 

Can You Buy Cooked Hand Roll Sushi? 

One of the coolest new trends in Japan (and certain American cities where sushi has become popularized) is “hand roll sushi.” Unlike traditional sushi rolls, which are rolled straight and cut into slices, hand roll sushi is rolled into a cone shape that you can hold in your hand and eat on the go. Just as you can buy a traditional sushi roll with cooked fish, most hand roll sushi restaurants also offer cooked fish hand rolls! 

What Are Popular Types of Cooked Sushi? 

Even though I usually prefer raw sushi, I have no problem eating cooked sushi as well. In fact, if I’m buying sushi from a grocery store (where I have no idea how fresh the sushi is), I generally opt for a cooked variety instead. I’ll also go for cooked sushi if there’s any news of a virus or foodborne illness going around. 

Some of my favorite types of cooked sushi include:

  • Cooked shrimp rolls (especially with added spicy sauce). 
  • Cooked salmon rolls.
  • Cooked tuna rolls. 
  • Vegetable rolls (no raw fish at all!). 

Final Thoughts

Just because you don’t like raw fish doesn’t mean that you can’t enjoy sushi! In fact, I’ve had plenty of cooked sushi rolls that taste just as good as traditional raw sushi rolls. Cooked sushi rolls are also easier to digest, which makes them a safer choice for those with stomach issues.