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Obviously, you can't use the word "cook" sushi since it is served raw (in most cases).

What other verbs can I use to describe the action aside from make and prepare?

Example sentence:

She __ a whole tray of sushi yesterday.

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    But what exactly is wrong with make and prepare? – choster Mar 9 '17 at 2:12
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    @choster No clue. I would've personally used "prepared" – AleksandrH Mar 9 '17 at 2:13
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    @AleksandrH Same... – Emereal Mar 9 '17 at 2:18
  • Never in Japanese but even so, I cook or prepare food for something like 250-500 people every week. You won't find any reason to use another verb instead of make or prepare… – Robbie Goodwin Mar 9 '17 at 4:55
  • You make sushi, just like you make any other food item—manner of preparation quite incidental. – Janus Bahs Jacquet Mar 9 '17 at 10:36
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Firstly, it's very much worth noting that sushi is actually rice. Although it's sometimes served with raw fish (which is sashimi), it's a separate thing, with the rice prepared with vinegar (or with a kind of vinegar-powder that approaches chemical-weapon status if you happen to breathe it in by mistake).

That said, I would go with any number of options. For the sushi itself, it'd be rolled and cut – and for raw fish, it'd be sliced, prepared, or arranged, I think, though I'd personally lean away from using any of them. My inclination would be to describe the result, something like:

"She emerged carrying a tray of sashimi, the slices arranged as flower-petals around circles of daikon."

– versus –

"She'd tried her hand at sashimi, but had ended up with a tray of ragged chunks, far from the delicate slices on display in Japanese restaurants."

Of course, neither might be appropriate if you're writing a factual article, but for fiction, I think these approaches offer something more colorful about the person who's doing the work.

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Sliced or chopped, perhaps? Note: If you choose one of these, you must change the sentence.

She sliced sushi and put it on a tray yesterday.

Or

She chopped sushi and put it on a tray yesterday yesterday.

If you're looking for something like "prepare", then

  • assemble?
  • arrange?

E.G.

She arranged a tray of sushi yesterday.

(This one sounds the best to me, but everyone's opinion differs...)

(Source)

  • Sliced and chopped in that context give the wrong impression to the reader. It sounds as though she sliced the dish itself as opposed to slicing the meat during the preparation. – AleksandrH Mar 9 '17 at 2:14
  • @Emereal with "arranged "could mean that the person bought ready-made sushi and organized them on the tray. Maybe I'm wrong? – alex Mar 9 '17 at 2:21
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    @alex Of course; but arrange is commonly used. See this website: metro.co.uk/2014/01/16/… – Emereal Mar 9 '17 at 2:25
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    I don't think this is quite right. You slice fish to make sushi (as the English word is used), you don't slice sushi. By comparison, you mash avocados to make guacamole, you don't mash guacamole. But you might slice up some sushi or mash up some guac. – choster Mar 9 '17 at 2:35

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