What Is the Difference Between Korean and Japanese Sushi?
Korean sushi recipes began to emerge in the early twentieth century when Japan annexed Korea. By this time, the Korean people were fond of Japanese sushi traditions and found creative ways to make the custom their own by incorporating Korean ingredients and cooking techniques.
The difference between Korean and Japanese sushi is not one of a complete separation between the two practices. Korean sushi’s foundational elements of fresh fish and expertly cooked rice align with the Japanese sushi philosophy.
In fact, many Korean sushi chefs are trained by Japanese mentors who preach the importance of pristine ingredients, time-honored preparations, and the importance of ritual in sushi’s preparation. These principles apply to both Korean and Japanese sushi.
What makes them different is the way Korean chefs build upon their Japanese training by infusing their dishes with ingredients and cooking practices fundamental to their nation’s culinary repertoire.
Japanese sushi devotees might eschew Korean sushi because it is not considered as authentic as traditional sushi; but this is also what makes it so fun and addictive.
One of the biggest differences between Korean sushi and its Japanese counterpart is the exclusion of wasabi. Instead, gochujang, a spicy, fermented Korean red pepper sauce is frequently substituted. It delivers a similar heat without the searing nose-tingling sensation of wasabi.
The staple of pickled ginger in Japanese sushi is often replaced by kimchi for a similar pickled flavor that is entirely Korea’s own. Lotus root is another popular ingredient in Korean sushi along with fatty fish such as salmon that is marinated in a combination of gochujang and sesame oil before it is prepared. Crunchy ingredients for texture such as fried fish roe are also Korean sushi staples.
“Gimbap” is the most straightforward Korean sushi recipe. “Gim” means seaweed and “bap” means rice. Kimchi, hard boiled eggs, carrots, spinach, and beef round out a classic gimbap.
Ritualistic preparation is as essential to Japanese sushi recipes as the use of pristine ingredients. Sushi’s origins began in the Japanese rice paddy fields in what is estimated to be the second century A.D. It was here the fish was fermented with salt to preserve it until lunchtime for the field workers who naturally ate it with rice.
Sushi recipes have flourished ever since and while modern sushi chefs outside of Japan add everything from avocado to mayonnaise to their sushi rolls, the time-tested ingredients of dried seaweed, perfectly cooked rice, and high quality fish are the primary tenets of traditional Japanese sushi.
Wasabi for heat and pickled ginger for brightness round out the basics of a cooking tradition that is beloved throughout the world.
Mini Gimbap (Mayak Gimbap)
These addictive miniature Korean seaweed sushi rolls are a perfect appetizer for your next party. They’re easy to prepare and their poppable nature makes them a go-to recipe for a gathering. The sesame-mustard sauce is the ideal way to add a little heat.
Kimchi Sushi Rolls
Kimchi is the ultimate Korean accompaniment and when it’s incorporated into a sushi roll along with chicken, avocado, and ginger its flavor and texture becomes even more appealing.
Korean Tuna Sushi Rolls
Tuna is marinated in a spicy-sweet combination of pineapple and gochujang (Korean chile paste) in this nutritious and flavorful sushi roll that is a welcome end of summer recipe for family night or a gathering of friends.
Shiitake and Lotus Root Sushi (Chirashi Sushi)
This Japanese sushi recipe contains the crunchy texture of lotus root with the umami flavor bomb of shiitakes.
Onigirazu (Japanese Sushi Sandwich)
These Japanese sushi sandwiches are as tasty as they are fun to eat. They’re also packed with nutrition in the form of healthful ingredients like tofu, spinach, and avocado.
Japanese Sweet Potato Sushi Rolls
Surprise dinner guests with a twist on Japanese sushi rolls that include classic ingredients like cucumber and pickled ginger along with more unexpected items like sweet potatoes, broccoli slaw, and alfalfa sprouts.