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What to eat with sushi: Sushi Side Dishes

Savour the delicate flavours of sushi, but if you fancy a side, consider miso soup, tempura, edamame beans, wakame salad, aubergine, kani salad, tamagoyaki, and pair it with cleansing green tea. Discover delightful pairings that enhance your sushi experience in this culinary journey.
Written by: Kelly Choi
What to eat with sushi: Sushi Side Dishes

In our humble opinion, sushi is so succulent and inviting that you don’t need to eat it with anything else. Your whole focus can be on savouring those delicate flavours. 

But there are occasions where you just fancy something else alongside. Perhaps a side dish will perfectly complement some leftover sushi at home. Or maybe you want to offer guests an array of food. Whatever the reason, side dishes with sushi shouldn't overpower the subtle flavours of the fish. 

What to serve with sushi 

Miso soup

Top of the list has to be miso soup, a traditional Japanese soup that’s also one of the fundamental ingredients in Japanese cooking. The Japanese have perfected the art of the soup and miso is the ultimate Japanese staple soup. So what better accompaniment to sushi? 

Miso is made of miso paste and dashi stock. You’ll taste two distinctive flavours: tofu and spring onion, but it won’t overpower the sushi.

Tempura

Tempura is lightly battered seafood, vegetables or meat. It can’t be compared to the UK’s penchant to deep-fry and batter everything! Tempura is sophisticated: it is very light and ultra-crispy, with no breadcrumbs. The batter is barely there, a little crunch and then it melts in your mouth, leaving the filling still tasting fresh and flavoursome. 

The added bonus to the tempura experience is the dipping. To prepare tempura dipping sauce, simply combine four ingredients: soy sauce, dashi (Japanese soup stock, sold in a packet or powder for convenience), mirin (Japanese sweet rice wine) and sugar (to taste).

Edamame beans

Edamame beans are packed with protein and have a mild, creamy flavour. These nutritious little beans are the perfect accompaniment to sushi as they won’t fill you up (you have to leave room for the sushi rice!). Boil them in pods and then after draining, sprinkle them with coarse sea salt. The salt goes onto your tongue when you bite the pod to get to the beans. So hard to stop eating once you start!

Wakame salad

Salads make great side dishes as they’re so light and refreshing. A wakame salad is a mix of cucumber and seaweed, with a rich sesame dressing. Wakame is a green edible seaweed (kelp). It has a smooth, silky texture. The taste is a delicious blend of sweet and umami.

Aubergine

Aubergine is such a useful vegetable when cooking as it absorbs flavours so easily. Simply marinate aubergine slices in sweet, tangy and sticky teriyaki sauce (it will only take a few minutes for the aubergine to soak up the sauce). Then quickly fry them in olive oil and serve. 

Kani salad

‘Kani’ is an imitation crab meat usually made from white fish. Kani salad is a mix of shredded crab sticks slathered in a rich dressing made from Japanese mayonnaise (kewpie). The dressing is spiced with sriracha, with some panko breadcrumbs thrown in and some tobiko (fish roe) added for some texture and salty flavour. If you prefer, you can use real crab meat in this salad.  

Tamagoyaki

Tamagoyaki means ‘grilled or fried egg’. It’s a Japanese rolled omelette with a sweet taste. You might have had it on top of nigiri before, but it makes a great side dish on its own. Tamagoyaki is made by rolling together thin layers of egg in a special square frying pan (you can use a regular round frying pan, but it’s easier with a square pan). Our top tip is to put the tamagoyaki on a sushi rolling mat and roll up tightly to get a solid roll.

Green tea

We think that green tea is the best of the traditional beverages to drink with sushi. Serve a cup of green tea before eating sushi and it’ll cleanse the palate so that the sushi tastes even better. Keep a pot of green tea nearby for top-ups throughout the meal. 

There are so many dishes that can be served with sushi — it’s fun to experiment with different flavour combinations. Sushi in itself is substantial and you’ll eat more rice than you think in those seemingly small bite-sized pieces, so include light side dishes with no heavy ingredients. Think soups and salads, depending on the season! If you want to learn more about , take a look at our beginner’s guide to sushi.

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