What Is the Crunchy Stuff on Top of Sushi?

Sushi can come with a variety of cool toppings that add interesting texture and even better flavor. But what is the crunchy stuff on top of sushi?

If you’ve ever gotten sushi with this light brown and crunchy stuff on top, almost like breadcrumbs, well, this is because they are breadcrumbs. Panko breadcrumbs to be specific; a very special Japanese style of bread crumb that is used for a multitude of purposes, most often for deep frying.

Indeed, Asian cuisine has a distinctly different flair, and many ingredients may be unfamiliar to beginner sushi lovers. I’m here to explain what this crunchy stuff is and what other ingredients are often on sushi. Read on to learn some sushi terminology.

what is the crunchy stuff on top of sushi

What Is the Brown, Crunchy Stuff on Sushi?

The brownish crunchy flakes on top of your sushi is panko, otherwise known as Japanese breadcrumbs. ‘Pan’ means bread in Japanese, and ‘ko’ is flour.

It isn’t made of regular white toasted bread, though. Instead, panko is prepared from bread that’s baked using an electric current. Thus, panko isn’t gluten-free, though it can be safely eaten by vegans.

In addition, panko is lighter and crispier than regular breadcrumbs.

Panko is often used as a topping or as a coating that covers the entire outer surface of nori. It’s superior to regular breadcrumbs as it absorbs less oil, resulting in a lighter dish.

Apart from sushi, it can be found in pasta, casseroles, macaroni, and many other recipes. In other words, it’s a very versatile ingredient that’s a perfect alternative to white toasted breadcrumbs.

Although you may think that panko has a specific taste, it doesn’t. The flakes absorb the flavor of other ingredients.

While it doesn’t bring any health benefits, it’s a healthier option than regular breadcrumbs. It contains less sodium, calories, and fat.

Furthermore, panko has a longer shelf life of about two years.

What Other Ingredients are Put on Top of Sushi?

Now that you know the crunchy stuff on top of sushi, you may want to find out what other ingredients are often used as toppings. Here are some of the most common options:

Fried Egg or Omelet

This topping is often found both in maki and nigiri. Tamago, or egg sushi, has a sweet taste and puffy texture. Sometimes, an omelet can even replace fish and be place inside the roll rather than on top.

Pickled Seaweed With Sesame

This combination is often used on top of maki. Extremely healthy, such a topping has a unique taste that will be appreciated by true seaweed lovers.

sushi with seaweed on top around it

Mango, Teriyaki, Eel, Tamari, or Mayo Sauces

Sauces add spiciness to the taste and make sushi juicier. They also enhance the aesthetics of sushi.

Sliced Avocado or Mango

These ingredients pair perfectly with nori, rice, and raw fish, adding even more freshness to the dish.

Tobiko, or Flying Fish Eggs

It’s one of the most commonly used sushi toppings. It has a bright orangey-red color and mildly salt taste.

sushi with tobiko topping

In Summary

As you can see, the crunchy stuff on top of your sushi is a Japanese equivalent of regular breadcrumbs, but better.

Hopefully, this guide has inspired you to try out other sushi toppings, too. While traditional Japanese sushi recipe is very minimalistic, modern maki can incorporate any unexpected ingredients, so try out all available options or come up with your own experimental ideas to find your favorite!

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