Australia's proximity to Asia means that the country receives culinary influences from right across the continent. One of the most enduringly popular types of Asian cuisine is sushi. Sushi is a type of food that originated in Japan around 2500 years ago, but now it is eaten all over the world.

If you want to try out sushi for the first time, you might be a little bit apprehensive about what each type of sushi contains, how it tastes, and how you should eat it. Sushi is full of niche Japanese terms that date back through the centuries, and it can be helpful to know some of these names and terms in order to get the most from your first visit to a sushi restaurant. Here are a few of those terms explained.

What is sushi? Sushi originally came into being as a way of preserving fish within fermented rice until eventually the rice was eaten along with the fish. This style of food has developed and diversified, and now there are many types of sushi eaten right across Australia and the rest of the world.

Maki. Maki is probably the type of sushi you are most common with. If you have ever seen a cylinder of rice wrapped in sea kelp with something delicious trapped in the middle, you will have seen maki. The centre can contain anything that you desire, but it usually contains raw or cooked fish or shellfish, or some kind of vegetable. Cucumber or avocado is an enduringly popular filling that is set within the vinegared rice, which is a great option for vegetarian sushi fans.

Nigiri. Spice fans will enjoy nigiri because this type of sushi includes a healthy smattering of wasabi (which can be thought of as the Japanese equivalent of horseradish). This dish is very simply a small mound of vinegared rice, topped by a slice of raw or cooked fish or shellfish. A layer of wasabi is spread between the rice and the fish.

Sashimi. Sashimi and nigiri are often confused, and sometimes nigiri is sometimes sold mistakenly sold as sashimi. The essential difference is that sashimi contains absolutely no rice. It is simply a slice of raw fish or seafood. The most typical varieties of fish used for sashimi in Japan are salmon (sake in Japanese), tuna (called akami, chutoro, otoro) and scallop (hotate).

These are the three staples of any sushi menu, and once you have tasted these, you will be hooked on this delicious Japanese cuisine. If you are in the mood for more traditional fare, visit a restaurant like Empire Grill.