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Beefshi Is Sushi Made of Deli Meat, and I Don’t Know How I Feel

The Double BLT Mega Roll—tomatoes, potato chips, and bacon bits wrapped in rice and roast beef—is definitely chaotic neutral.
Bettina Makalintal
Brooklyn, US
bento box of "beefshi," sushi made out of beef deli meat
Photo Courtesy North American Meat Institute

When Gretchen Weiners pushed the phrase “fetch” as new slang for “cool” in the now-15-year-old classic Mean Girls, she was given a little tough love. “Stop trying to make fetch happen. It’s not going to happen,” says Regina George, clique leader. That’s because it sounded stupid, and Regina wanted to save face.

Perhaps someone should say the same to the folks pushing “beefshi” for another year. “Beefshi” is beef sushi, and it’s a promotion by the North American Meat Institute to celebrate National Deli Meat Month (also A Thing, it turns out). “Beefshi is a creative, new culinary concept that uses prepared beef products like bologna, summer sausage, corned beef and pastrami as central ingredients in sushi,” read the press release.


NAMI pushed beefshi last year, and although BEEF Magazine liked it as a trendy alternative to cronuts, kale chips, and unicorn frappes, beefshi didn’t quite catch on, it seems. So beefshi lives another year. “Americans have always loved beef and over the past few decades, their love of sushi has catapulted,” said Eric Mittenthal, NAMI’s vice president of public affairs, in the release. “Therefore, we couldn't think of a better way to celebrate National Deli Meat Month than focusing on the marriage of beef and sushi.”

Beef is common in Korean kimbap, a seaweed-wrapped rice roll that’s pretty similar to sushi. Although seafood is Japan’s sushi standard, Wagyu beef is sometimes eaten as sashimi and chefs have played around with sushi using raw pork and chicken. According to Mittenthal, however, sushi’s fillings are “limitless,” so he sees beefshi as the new, non-sandwich way to eat deli meats. That’s probably why all their recipes are basically just sandwiches but in rice—which isn’t bad, but is it really “sushi”?

As far as the recipes go, they run the gamut. Some are solidly not my jam: the Muffarolletta, for example, is a blend of cheese, capers, olives, and celery leaves that’s rolled into rice and salami. I’d call the Double BLT Mega Roll—a mixture of tomatoes, bacon-flavored potato chips, and bacon bits that’s surrounded by vinegared rice and roast beef slices—chaotic neutral. I would, however, die for the dank-sounding Potato-Stick Crunch Maki, which is a hot dog wrapped in rice, seaweed, potato chips, and onion dip. All of them sound like perfect stoner food.

So, should beef sushi—and more specifically, deli meat sushi—be a thing? I’m conflicted—especially if it has to be called “beefshi.” But pass on the portmanteau, and I do love any reason to mix processed meat and rice.