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Korean sushi -- What's the difference?

b
bagdoodle Nov 15, 2007 03:11 PM

Is it made differently than the Japanese variety? Is it served or eaten differently? What's the story?

  1. h
    hyunnee Mar 7, 2013 08:40 PM

    Korean sushi is more accurately described as sashimi. It's characterized by freshness, quantity and texture. Presentation is an afterthought. If you go to small coastal towns in Korea, locals will shop for fresh fish suitable for sashimi-ing (flounder/fluke are the most valued) in fish markets then take it to a restaurant to turn into sashimi. The bones/head are made into a spicy fish soup and completes the meal. The fish should preferably be alive just before preparation. Some modern korean seafood restaurants have added a gimmick of serving the sashimi slices layered over the the bones/head with the mouth still moving. That's the ultimate freshness people will pay big bucks for. The sashimi is served unseasoned in large quantities, spread over a plate the size of a personal pizza on a bed of shredded daikon or lettuce. There's always the common option of serving with a bowl of hot steaming white glutinous rice (unflavored) and a choice of a hot pepper paste/vinegar sauce or soy/wasabi. Each piece is dipped in the sauce then layered over a bite size morsel of rice by the diner and consumed one piece at a time (instant nigiri!) - takes some dexterity. Sometimes you can consume it in the form of a ssam (lettuce/perilla). If the diner doesn't care for rice, they can go without.

    The comments about the preference for "chewy" texture is absolutely correct. Tuna and salmon are considered too soft. Seabass and fluke/flounder are chewier white fish that are good options.

    The korean rolls involve no fish and is the ideal and traditional picnic food - it can conveniently be eaten by hand and flavorful enough to go without the common korean meal of rice and "banchan." You can brush the roll before cutting into pieces with sesame oil then very briefly rolled over a frying pan to maintain crispness of the seaweed.

    1. JungMann Nov 16, 2007 05:51 AM

      I think the original poster is talking about kimbap, which looks very much like sushi and is frequently found next to sushi on steamtables in NYC. Unlike sushi, however, the rice in kimbap isn't vinegared; it's lightly seasoned with perilla and sesame oils. Fillings usually include pickled daikon, carrots, spinach and a main filling of surimi, beef, kimchi or spam -- unlike sushi, no raw fish. Novices often eat kimbap with wasabi and pickled ginger, thinking it's the same as sushi, but as far as I can tell, it's meant to be eaten unadorned.

      7 Replies
      1. re: JungMann
        bitsubeats Nov 17, 2007 02:47 PM

        the rice is flavoured with sesame oil? Usually the outside of the kimbap is rubbed with the oil. It is also great to rub the knife with sesame oil while cutting the kimbap, so rice doesn't stick to the knife.

        kimbap is also meant to be eaten as a snack and not really at a main meal. Is sushi considered a main meal or a snack?

        1. re: bitsubeats
          hannaone Nov 17, 2007 10:22 PM

          We always season the rice with sesame oil in the kim bop I and my wife make. We also add a touch of salt and sometimes sesame seed. Haven't tried the perilla (Korean wild sesame) yet.
          Our standard fillings include strips of fishcake (odaeng) and crab along with the daikon, spinach, and steamed carrot.
          For myself I like to use strips of grilled chicken, or spicy pork, or bulgogi, or...well just about any thing.

          1. re: hannaone
            bitsubeats Nov 17, 2007 10:58 PM

            when you make kimbap next time, try laying a few ggaenip leaves down on the seaweed before you add the rice and goodies. My mom did this for me in the summer time and I loved it.

            sometimes I also like to add sauteed gobo

            1. re: bitsubeats
              hannaone Nov 17, 2007 11:41 PM

              I will try that.
              My current kick is a grilled chicken breast salad wrap. Very thin layer of rice with strips of grilled chicken breast, chopped lettuce, fresh shredded daikon, cucumber strip, steamed carrot, egg strip, diced tomato, and a sesame salad dressing that my wife makes.

              1. re: bitsubeats
                o
                ohmyyum Mar 7, 2013 08:45 PM

                Question! I know what gaenip is but what is the name of the plant in English, say if I wanted to buy some seeds to plant?

                1. re: ohmyyum
                  h
                  hyunnee Mar 7, 2013 08:55 PM

                  Perilla...sometimes they're used as garnish for japanese sushi/sashimi but the korean variety tastes slightly different - I would say it's spicier and less minty. They're sturdy plants and are easy to grow. If you're keen, you can grow them until they flower - the flowers will eventually fall off and leave clusters of fresh soft seeds. You can chop off the clusters and lightly fry them in a thin flour/egg batter or chop them up and incorporate into a scallion pancake mix. Sometimes people like to let the seeds mature until the plant dies and use them to replant the following season.

                  1. re: hyunnee
                    o
                    ohmyyum Mar 7, 2013 09:00 PM

                    Thank you so much for the detailed response! I love "perilla" that's been marinated in soy sauce with steaming hot, white, Korean sticky rice.

        2. m
          moh Nov 15, 2007 08:01 PM

          I had Korean sashimi (Hwe) in Korea on several occasions, and I agree with the comments already posted. I also noticed that Koreans have a tendancy to like fish ir seafood with texture - or as my husband puts it, they like "chewy" fish and food. So when you have raw skate, they leave in the cartilage. Squid is popular because it is chewy. The fish we had was not the buttery smooth texture of toro, but instead had a firmness and resistance when you took a bite. (I have no idea what kind of fish it was). As for the raw seafood I had on a beach on Jeju Island, one was a small type of abalone (chewy) and the other creatures were only recognizable as creatures that I had seen in aquariums. All were chewy. And accompanied by a piece of raw garlic and chile sauce. Very different than Japanese sashimi!

          As for rolls, Korean rolls (or kimbab) are much more robust than Japanese rolls. The ingredients are usually fully cooked, the rice is either unseasoned, or seasoned with sesame oil/seeds. The ingredients will include all sorts of things like pickled daikon, fried egg, seasoned meat, sauteed julienned vegetables such as carrrots, mushrooms, fish cakes. Very hearty fare. We take large quantities of this stuff on picnics and hikes (our version of sandwiches). It is tasty, but very different than Japanese maki.

          1. bitsubeats Nov 15, 2007 07:35 PM

            I have never had korean sushi....I'm sure it's just a korean interpretation of the japanese dish.

            However korean sashimi or hwe is it's own separate thing. In my opinion I think the slices of fish are much thicker than japanese sashimi (but I've heard the opposite). Koreans also serve the fish with chojang (gochujang, sugar, and a little vinegar), and sometimes wrap it in lettuce, korean perilla leaf or with slices of raw garlic.

            2 Replies
            1. re: bitsubeats
              l
              Loren3 Nov 20, 2007 11:46 AM

              A Korean acquaintance of mine insisted it was the other way around. Like the game of go, raw fish and rice in the form of hae dop bop and other dishes was originally Korean, and adopted into what we now think of as sushi by the Japanese occupiers.

              I have no idea if it's true or not. Just an amusing twist on the tale.

              1. re: Loren3
                Miss Needle Nov 20, 2007 12:27 PM

                Not sure if that's true. I heard that the origination of sushi is actually from China.

            2. w
              wayne keyser Nov 15, 2007 07:00 PM

              I have noticed some differences: Often, the rice tastes unseasoned. Often, the pieces of sushi are topped by the chef with drizzles of spicy sauce.

              1. j
                jennp Nov 15, 2007 03:13 PM

                Hmm the main difference that I notice is that it is usually eaten sashimi style, with a hot red pepper paste + vinegar, sugar, and garlic mixture rather than soy sauce.

                2 Replies
                1. re: jennp
                  Silverjay Nov 15, 2007 04:09 PM

                  Sashimi and sushi are seperate, distinct dishes.

                  1. re: jennp
                    h
                    Humbucker Nov 15, 2007 05:01 PM

                    There's also hwe dup bap which is sort of the Korean version of chirashi sushi. Unlike chirashi, it comes with a salad-like assortment of greens and a spicy sauce to be mixed with the rice.

                    In terms of nigiri, sushi at Korean-owned establishments tends to have much larger cuts of fish. Also, I have heard that Koreans like to eat their raw tuna while it is still frozen.

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