what to serve with sushi

What to Serve with Sushi: 14 Asian-Flavored Dips and Sides

The sushi craze has taken over not just Japan but also the world. Several varieties of this seafood and rice dish have risen – from nigiri to Californian maki. Each type brings a unique set of flavors and textures to enjoy.

Although most sushi rolls do well with just a simple soy sauce dip, the experience is undoubtedly improved with well-chosen dips and sides. If you are wondering what to serve with sushi, explore these 14 Asian-flavored dips and sides.

1. Wasabi Sauce

Besides soy sauce, wasabi is among the most classic sides or dips for sushi rolls. This fiery-hot sauce has undoubtedly surprised many with its pungent odor and bold spiciness. But even so, once you’ve had it with your sushi, you wouldn’t have anything else. To make wasabi paste, you’ll need 5 ingredients, fresh wasabi root, soy sauce, rice vinegar, mirin, and Japanese cooking wine.

2. Gari (Pickled Ginger)

Another traditional accompaniment to sushi is gari or pickled ginger. It introduces spicy, sweet flavors and cleanses the palate between dishes. Thus, you better appreciate the variety of Japanese treats you have. Making gari takes only 30 minutes, but you’d have to prepare this in advance to give time for pickling.

3. Teriyaki Sauce

Although teriyaki sauce is often reserved for proteins, like chicken or pork, you can also have it for sushi. It’s perfect if you’re looking for a new sushi experience, given that the flavor combination is unique and complex. To make the teriyaki sauce, you’ll need water, brown sugar, soy sauce, honey, garlic, ginger, and cornstarch.

4. Spicy Mayo

Although spicy mayo isn’t a traditional condiment for sushi, the tandem has been growing in popularity. It is especially popular with sushi rolls on the Western side as it provides creamy and hot flavors derived from Japanese mayo and hot sriracha sauce. You can also add lime juice to balance them. If you make too much spicy mayo, use them for other foods, like fries or burgers.

5. Eel/Unagi Sauce

The Japanese people love eating freshwater eel, usually flavored with this eel or unagi sauce. But if you have no eel to pair it with, try it with some sushi rolls instead. The combination of sweet, salty, and umami make the sushi rolls more flavorful. Such a flavor blend can be achieved with just three ingredients: soy sauce, sugar, and mirin.

6. Tempura

If you want more than just dips or condiments with your sushi rolls, a great choice is a tempura. Although we usually think of shrimp tempura, you can use the batter to coat many other foods, like eggplants, sweet potatoes, and other vegetables. The trick is to perfect the batter so it’s crispy, airy, and not oily or soggy.

7. Asian Kale Crunch Salad

You can also try sushi with salad for a more satisfying meal. It brings more freshness, nutrition, flavors, and textures, thus, significantly improving your sushi meal. For instance, this recipe for Asian kale crunch salad is a beautiful medley of tang, color, and crispiness. Plus, it takes only 20 minutes to prep, and it’s gluten-free, vegan, and paleo-friendly!

8. Wakame (Japanese Seaweed Salad)

If you want to stick to the ocean and Japanese-inspired flavors, give wakame a try. It’s a Japanese seaweed salad, so it compliments sushi with its seaweed covering (or inner coating, depending on how you make your sushi). It’s flavored with many Asian ingredients, such as rice vinegar, mirin, sesame oil and seeds, soy sauce, and more.

9. Tako Su (Octopus Salad)

Another “sea-flavored” treat that goes perfectly with sushi is tako su, or Japanese octopus salad. The boiled octopus provides protein, distinct sea flavors, and a chewy texture you’d enjoy. It’s combined with cucumbers, rehydrated seaweed, rice vinegar, sweetener, soy sauce, salt, and sesame seeds. Overall, it’s a great dish that matches the sushi’s fresh taste profile.

10. Tsukemono (Japanese Pickle)

Sushi is also perfect with a platter of tsukemono or Japanese pickled vegetables. Interestingly, the more appropriate term for this recipe would be shiozuke, the simplest type of tsukemono. The sweet, sour, and umami flavors of these pickles brighten up the sushi, making every bite fresher and more delicious. You can use the recipe to pickle these veggies: eggplants, cucumbers, radishes, celery, and carrots.

11. Edamame with Soy and Sesame Sauce

A small plate of edamame, or cooked immature soybean pods, is also well-recommended for sushi. Although you can have them just boiled or steamed, you can also cook them in a sauce – like this recipe – for more flavor. Thus, besides the edamame in their pods, you’ll also need sesame oil, soy sauce, salt, and pepper to make this side dish.

12. Miso-Glazed Brussels Sprouts

Each of these miso-glazed Brussels sprouts is a pop of savory, crisp flavors. Miso is a fermented soybean paste that provides a unique, predominantly salty taste to the dish. The miso in this recipe is combined with rice vinegar, maple syrup, and sea salt. Thus, you can expect your glazed Brussels sprouts to taste sweet, salty, sour, and umami – all good things.

13. Gyoza (Japanese Dumplings)

Complete your platter of bite-sized treats by pairing your sushi rolls with gyoza or Japanese dumplings. These potstickers are perfectly juicy, meaty, and tasty; just what is needed to make your meal more filling. However, note that making gyoza takes effort and technique – from making the wrappers to filling them with the homemade meat mixture – but it’s all worth it.

14. Homemade Miso Soup

If you still have extra miso paste from your Brussels sprouts, make yourself a bowl of miso soup. This hearty comfort dish is a classic from Japan, complimenting many food arrangements, from sushi to bento boxes. Although miso soup needs only five ingredients – miso paste, dashi, tofu, dried seaweed, and scallions – the challenge is perfecting the dashi to ensure great flavor.

AboutRibana Hategan

Ribana is a certified pastry chef and passionate home cook who curates and develops recipes that are high on nutrition. She develops and tests cost effective, nutritious meals using quality ingredients to help people better their everyday eating experiences.