I have found that most people who come from cultures where eating raw fish is not a norm tend to break into sushi for the first time through cooked sushi, like the commonplace boiled shrimp sushi (ebi).
Shrimp sushi is easy for sushi first-timers.
Boiled shrimp is familiar to most people in the West, which I can understand would make it easier to accept when eaten as sushi.
Other cooked sushi toppings like egg omelets, barbecued eel, and blanched sea bream, are other common cooked items on sushi restaurant menus.
But if you absolutely can’t handle raw fish, you don’t have to limit yourself to these slim choices. There are so many other kinds of sushi and many additional ways to enjoy them in a less-raw state (after overcoming the impressions you already have).
Take for instance sardine sushi (iwashi): Westerners are probably used to seeing sardines in cans or jars with oil, and not exactly the most appetizing things. That impression is stuck in their minds when told of sardine sushi. Raw sardines, even fresh ones, are somewhat fragrant and can kill your appetite rather quickly. But why settle for the raw deal when you can ask the sushi chef to make it a little less raw?
Aburi (炙り) is the method of torching something with, of course, a blowtorch or flame. In sushi, it means to singe the top or outer surface of raw fish, cooking it. The result is a sardine with a browned crackling surface and the juiciness of a flame-broiled steak (it’s still fish, mind you). The part that has been put to the flame often tastes good enough to make you forget about the fact the rest is raw, but at least it might turn your “ewws” into “yumms”.
The shrimp sushi featured above was made from giant Indonesia tiger prawns, caught fresh (not farmed) and packed at 680 yen for 6 prawns ($8.71) or about $1.45 per prawn. These monsters are large enough to satisfy the no-raw-fish sushi fan, but if you’re felling only a little bit adventurous, take my advice and experiment with others toppings!