Sushi makes a quick and easy dinner that even the fussiest eater will enjoy. If you’re cooking for a hungry mob, you can always make more sushi. Otherwise, check out our essential list of ideas for what to serve with sushi. Without a doubt, you’ll want to include number 23, it’s a crowd-pleaser.
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What can I serve with sushi?
We recommend serving cucumber sesame salad, yakitori, and miso soup. For drinks, serve sake or beer to keep with the Japanese theme. Finally, no sushi meal is complete without soy sauce, pickled ginger, and wasabi.
1. Cucumber sesame salad
For a healthy, light side dish, make a cucumber sesame salad in less than 5 minutes. This dish combines thinly sliced cucumber with sesame oil, rice vinegar, soy sauce, and a sprinkle of sugar. As a finishing touch, scatter some red pepper flakes and sesame seeds over the top. For something special, place a bunch of sea grapes on top for an impressive visual look.
Grilled chicken pieces on skewers, or yakitori, are another great finger food. They’re deliciously tender and glazed with a tare sauce, delicious served as part of a sushi dinner.
If you don’t enjoy chicken, then skewer other proteins and make a kushiyaki. Pork, beef, fish, seafood, and offal are all tasty options.
3. Miso soup
Serving small bowls of miso soup is an excellent addition to sushi meals. This is a light broth that is made from dashi and miso paste. If you’re short on time, visit the grocery store and stock up on miso soup sachets that only require water to be added. You can also toss in chopped tofu, mushrooms, and green onion if time permits.
4. Soy sauce
It’s not negotiable, you’ve got to include soy sauce on the table. Try to find a sushi restaurant without it. Dipping California rolls and sashimi into this condiment adds a burst of flavor. It’s especially good with blander sushi rolls like avocado and cucumber.
If you’re going all-in on the Japanese theme, then sake is a must. There are many brands to choose from, each offering unique aromas and flavors. You can find out more about what sake tastes like here or just invest in a premium bottle of Daiginjo and pull out the shot glasses.
Other common Japanese drinks to help wash down the sushi rice are beer like Japanese lager and wheat beer, Midori, and shochu.
6. Yaki Onigiri
Follow the lead of Izakaya taverns and serve up authentic Yaki Onigiri. They’re grilled rice balls shaped into ovals or triangles and sometimes filled with ingredients like kombu, avocado, salmon, or pickled plum. Coat them in a dipping sauce like teriyaki or tonkatsu and sprinkle with sesame seeds.
Stirfry asparagus for a simple, nutritious extra on the table. You can cook the spears with olive oil, garlic, and a splash of your favorite sauce. Spice it up with some Korean gochujang or ssamjang sauce if you enjoy hot food.
What can I use instead of asparagus?
What goes with asparagus?
If you’re feeling adventurous, include natto as part of the meal. It’s notorious an aroma like smelly cheese but don’t let that put you off trying it. To learn more, check out our guide to what natto tastes like.
Ohitashi is a delicious way to serve leafy greens that are popping with umami flavor. Vegetables like Swiss chard, watercress, or spinach are blanched in a light soy-based marinade.
10. Pickled Ginger
Pickled ginger, or gari, is another essential dish to include when you’re eating sushi. Thinly sliced ginger is pickled in vinegar and sugar. You can eat it in the same mouthful with sushi, but its main purpose is a palate cleanser.
Almost anything tastes better in a tempura batter. It’s a crispy batter that can be used with ingredients like vegetables, meat, or poultry. If you break from soft-textured, raw fish, then a tempura side dish is a delicious option. Don’t forget the dipping sauce!
12. Wakame salad
Green wakame is a seaweed salad that’s got a sesame flavor and firm texture, though not crunchy. It doesn’t have a “taste of the sea” flavor you’d expect from seaweed. Wakame salad includes ingredients like sesame oil, sugar, vinegar, salt, and sesame seeds.
Sometimes chili flakes are added to give the salad a little extra zing. Sushi bars often sell this salad ready-made, or you can buy the seaweed online.
Related reading: what is a good arame substitute?
If miso soup doesn’t appeal, why not make osuimono? It’s a basic, light broth that uses Japanese ingredients like kombu, sake, and light soy sauce. Try this recipe if you’re feeling motivated.
Street food enthusiasts will love tamagoyaki. It’s a Japanese rolled omelet that has a slightly sweet taste. If you enjoy nigiri, you may have tasted it as part of a popular sushi called tamago nigiri.
15. Green Tea
If you’re not having a boozy sushi party, then green tea should be your go-to option for drinks. It’s refreshing and also packed with nutritional goodness. Serve it as iced tea or hot, the choice is yours.
16. Octopus salad
Combine Japanese cucumber, wakame seaweed, sesame seeds, and a vinaigrette with fresh octopus. It’s an excellent dish to serve with sushi and you can make it ahead of time.
17. ‘Nuta’ spring onion salad
This is a super-easy salad to make that mixes vinegar, sugar, and white miso to make a dressing. This can be combined with mustard, spring onions, and squid or octopus.
18. Kani Salad
Thinly slice or shred crab slicks, mango, and cucumbers then stir in kewpie mayonnaise dressing and sriracha. To add crunch to the salad, toss in some panko and sesame seeds. Splash in a little ponzu or soy sauce for a tasty salad.
Wasabi is a spicy green paste that’s almost always served with sushi. The authentic paste is made from the root of the Wasabia japonica plant. However, most wasabi that comes with sushi is horseradish powder and food coloring.
Whether you've got the real thing or imitation wasabi, it’s an essential part of any sushi meal. Some love it for the burst of spicy flavor it offers, others enjoy how it freshens the palate.
Worth a read:
What does a yuzu taste like?
How do I make sushi rolls at home?
How do mirin and rice vinegar compare?
What can I use instead of yakisoba sauce?
Tsukemono are pickled vegetables that are often sliced delicately and used as garnishes. They’re also used as part of a tea ceremony and as sides during meals. You can make your own tsukemono by pickling vegetables like cucumbers, carrots, and cabbage in brine. If you don’t have time, pickles are readily available at the grocery store.
For dessert, a Japanese dessert is a good plan. Anmitsu is made from agar-agar jelly that gets melted in fruit juice or water. The end result is a parfait-style pudding that is served with mochi, fruit, and peas.
Other desserts worth serving are Japanese cheesecake, daifuku, dorayaki, taiyaki, mochi, hojicha ice cream, and dango. You can get a great selection of easy-to-follow dessert recipes on one page here.
22. Japanese curry
The flavor-packed sauce that you get from a Japanese curry is incredible. You could make a meat curry or a vegetarian potato curry. To learn more, find out how Japanese and Indian curries differ.
Karaage takes tender, marinated meat like chicken and then deep-fries the pieces in a crispy batter. It’s a popular menu option in Japan and you’ll probably agree. It’s a great option for visitors or family members who want hot, meaty dishes rather than cold food.
Another similar style of dish is Teba shio. They’re salted chicken wings that are pan-fried in garlic, oil, and a splash of sake.
24. Boiled edamame
The secret to cooking edamame is to keep it simple. A basic dish of boiled or steamed beans with a sprinkle of salt is delicious. You don’t need to incorporate other ingredients. The beans add vibrant green color to the table and they’re uber-nutritious.
25. Crab rangoon
Crab rangoon is a tasty finger food to include on the menu. These are crab puffs are a type of dumpling. They make excellent finger food, perfect for dipping into duck sauce.
Gyoza are a type of dumpling with minced pork, cabbage, and mushrooms in the middle. Often called potstickers, you can make them at home or find them ready to heat and eat from the frozen aisle.
Udon is a type of thick noodle that will satisfy even the hungriest eater. Serve them up in a big bowl and let people help themselves. You can cook them on their own or add chicken, beef, or seafood.
28 Kinpira Gobo
Making a bowl of kinpira gobo is quick and you can make it ahead of time for convenience. This is a popular Japanese dish that stir-fries shredded carrot and burdock root then simmers the vegetables in soy sauce. The final dish is sprinkled with sesame seeds.
A challenge with this dish is finding burdock root, which isn’t so common in many parts of the world.
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Although sushi makes a substantial meal, you can turn it into a banquet with a few extra dishes. Food like cucumber sesame salad, yakitori, and miso soup are a few good ways to bolster the meal, but you're only limited by your imagination.
Your best side dishes will be light, rather than heavy, rich food. Sushi is light and you don't want too many heavy ingredients to overwhelm a sushi night.
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