Nigiri Sashimi 101: Understanding the Basics of Japanese Dining

Nigiri and sashimi are popular Japanese dishes; nigiri has rice and raw fish, while sashimi is just thinly sliced fish without rice.

what is nigiri sashimi

Japanese cuisine has become a popular meal option for Americans, and many have adopted it as part of their staple food options in their diet routine.

As more and more Americans continue dining out, several restaurants have added Japanese cuisine options, including Nigiri sashimi. 

So what is Nigiri sashimi? Continue reading to learn more: 

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What is better, nigiri or sashimi? 

Nigiri and sashimi provide two delicious options for seafood lovers and are prepared similarly. Both are thinly sliced fish, but nigiri is made with raw fish and vinegared rice. Sashimi is thinly sliced, high-quality fish served without rice. 

When determining which one is better, it depends upon the person and if they like rice or not. People who do not like rice may prefer sashimi, but nigiri does offer a bit more flavor by being pressed over the rice. 

What is the main difference between nigiri and sashimi cuts? 

The most significant difference between nigiri and sashimi is that nigiri has rice, and sashimi does not. The taste of the vinegared rice provides extra flavor contrast to the nigiri, which makes it more flavorful than sashimi. 

What’s the difference between sushi and sashimi?

Sushi is served with rice and can be rolled or set over a bed of sliced Japanese radishes, whereas sashimi is the freshest fish possible because there is no rice or seasoning needed. 

So, sashimi is not sushi? 

Sashimi is raw fish, but it is not technically a type of sushi. Rice is an essential ingredient in sushi, and sashimi contains no rice. 

FAQs about Nigiri

What is the difference between nigiri, sashimi, and sushi? 

Though the three items overlap, there are distinct differences between nigiri, sushi, and sashimi. Sushi rolls typically have at least three ingredients, including raw fish and other things like vegetables, rice, and sauces. All items are made into rolls and then sliced. 

Nigiri and sashimi are traditional Japanese dishes. Nigiri is thinly sliced fish over a bed of rice, while sashimi does not have any rice. 

Is sashimi raw? 

Sashimi is raw seafood that is thinly sliced and enjoyed by itself. Though it is raw, it is not a form of sushi. 

Is it safe to eat raw fish? 

Seafood is a very healthy food option and for more people, eating raw fish, such as in sushi, sashimi, or nigiri, is relatively safe. Eating raw fish that was freshly caught and properly frozen is best, which helps kill any parasites. Freezing fish for raw consumption must be frozen at -4° F or lower for seven days (168 hours). Freezing the seafood will kill parasites, but it will not kill bacteria, which carries a risk when consuming raw finfish. 

Is sashimi healthier than sushi? 

The nutritional value of sushi depends significantly upon the ingredients but may contain more carbs and fiber than sashimi. Rice, seaweed, and vegetables can add nutritional value to sushi and add more calories. Consuming sashimi is the better option for people only looking for high protein and heart-healthy fats. 

What does nigiri mean in Japanese? 

Nigiri in Japanese means “two fingers,” which relates to the grasp or seize of the rice that is the foundation for the delicious, thinly sliced fish. 

Is nigiri more expensive than sushi? 

Nigiri is more expensive than sushi primarily because it contains higher quality fish, such as bluefin or ahi tuna. Sushi tends to have less expensive fish mixed with other meat and vegetables in sushi rolls. 

How do I make nigiri and sashimi? 

Nigiri and sashimi are traditional Japanese dishes that are popular worldwide and can be easily made at home. Both can be paired with wasabi, soy sauce, or pickled ginger to add to the fish’s natural flavor. 

Easy nigiri recipe

To make nigiri, you will need: 

  • 1 cup uncooked sushi rice
  • 1 cup of water
  • 1 tbsp sushi vinegar
  • 2 tsp wasabi
  • 8 oz of fish, such as salmon, tuna, yellowtail hamachi, shrimp ebi, or eel

Below are directions to make nigiri: 

  1. Add the rice and water to a rice cooker and cook according to the instructions. 
  2. Season rice and transfer to a large bowl, allowing it to cool slightly. 
  3. When still slightly warm, stir in the sushi vinegar. 
  4. Cut the fish going against the grain at a 40 to 45-degree angle about three inches long, one inch wide, and ¼-inch thick. 
  5. Shape three tablespoons of rice in your hand, forming a firm oval shape, and place it on a plate. 
  6. Place the sliced fish on top of the rice. 
  7. Add a pea-sized portion of wasabi on the side.
  8. Serve and enjoy. 

Easy sashimi recipe

To make sashimi, you will need: 

  • 4 oz sashimi grade yellowtail belly of the fish
  • Daikon radish, shredded
  • Wasabi
  • Soy sauce

Below are directions on how to make sashimi: 

  1. Slice the raw yellowtail fish against the grain (straight or at an angle). 
  2. Arrange cut yellowtail on a cold plate with the shredded daikon radish. 
  3. Place dabs of pickled ginger or wasabi on the plate.
  4. Serve with a ramekin of soy sauce and enjoy. 

Do I serve anything with sashimi? 

Sashimi is served on a platter, often on a bed of shiso leaves or shredded daikon radishes. Sashimi can be accompanied by a ramekin of soy sauce, some pickled ginger leaves, or a dab of wasabi. A wedge of citrus can also accompany sashimi providing extra flavor to the meat. Some people enjoy a citrus-flavored soy sauce, ponzu, with their sashimi. 

Do I serve anything with nigiri? 

Nigiri is traditionally served with a bed of rice, but it can also be garnished with a dollop of wasabi sauce, some pickled ginger leaves, and a small ramekin of soy sauce. Using different fish can add variety and color to the plate

What should you serve with salmon nigiri? 

Typically a ball of vinegared sushi rice is served underneath the salmon nigiri. This meal is commonly served with a dollop of wasabi and a ramekin of soy sauce. Some people enjoy salmon nigiri with some salt and citrus. 

Should I eat nigiri in a single bite? 

Sushi, nigiri, and sashimi are created to be consumed in a single bite. Because of this, serving sizes are small, and you can enjoy eating with your fingers or chopsticks. 

How are you supposed to eat nigiri? 

Eating nigiri dipped in soy sauce is best, helping add flavor to the fish. Dip the fish, not the rice, into the soy sauce, which helps prevent the rice from absorbing too much soy sauce, making each bite very salty. 

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