Sushi Vs. Nigiri: Get To Know The Difference

Sushi Vs. Nigiri: Get To Know The Difference

If you’re going out for sushi with your family or friends, know first, what are the differences between sushi vs Nigiri. We all know what sushi looks like, but what Nigiri sets apart? When planning to go to a sushi restaurant, do yourself a favor by getting familiarized with the kinds of sushi and Nigiri.

You’re probably very much familiar with sushi. It is a traditional Japanese dish made from rice with vegetables, fruits, raw fish or meat fillings, and wrapped in nori or seaweed. On the other hand, Nigiri is a combination of sushi and sashimi. It is a dish of raw slices of fish or sashimi, served over long mounds of pressed vinegar rice. By their looks, you can see that sushi has its fillings wrapped around sushi rice and nori. Meanwhile, Nigiri only uses a variety of seafood, like fish, octopus, shrimp, or squid put on top of the sushi rice.

Make sure that you get all the information needed when it comes to ordering sushi and Nigiri the next time you go to your favorite sushi restaurant. Feel free to be more informative by reading and learning the differences between sushi vs Nigiri below. You can also see what the differences between sushi vs kimbap here are.

What Is Sushi?

Sushi is a Japanese dish consisting of rice and fillings like fruits, vegetables, raw fish, or meat, wrapped around nori. It is usually food that is nutritious and non-fattening. It is rich in vitamins, proteins, carbohydrates, and minerals, although it is naturally low in fat. If you add vegetables to the dish, there are also more vitamins and minerals, and omega-3 fatty acids are added to the fish, which is helpful for cardiovascular health and brain activity. 

In a sushi dish, however, occasionally there is mayo, which may increase the calorie and fat content. Moreover, since people eat it with soy sauce as a dip or seasoning, sushi may have a high sodium content. It has been turned into many modern dishes with different ingredients, preparations, and condiments due to the popularity of sushi.

What Is Nigiri?

Nigiri is a blend of sushi and sashimi. It is a dish served over oblong mounds of pressed vinegar rice (sushi), consisting of raw slices of fish (sashimi). Since it includes vinegar rice, Nigiri is also a form of sushi. You can use a variety of seafood, such as fish, octopus, shrimp, or squid – but never meat. Nigiri is raw fish most of the time, but you can also find other kinds of Nigiri that are either fried or seared.

For certain people, when they think of sushi, Nigiri is the visual that they think of because it is a mixture of raw fish and vinegar rice. Sushi lovers sometimes eat it with pickled ginger, wasabi, and soy sauce on wooden trays. Moreover, tuna, salmon, halibut, yellowtail, octopus, and squid are some of the most common fish toppings in Nigiri. Thanks to its palatable and unique taste, most first-timers find salmon nigiri to be the best choice for their first sushi experience.

Understanding Sushi

Sushi, to begin with, does not always mean raw fish. Instead, raw fish-sashimi is the most common sushi ingredient. The term sushi refers to foods that use a vinegar-seasoned form of rice and are garnished with raw fish or vegetables.

The sushi rolls (maki) you might think of are only one of many kinds of sushi. Before you visit Japan, it is essential to know this; otherwise, you’re bound to be confused while visiting a sushi restaurant. The best thing to do is to read up on the various styles of sushi and brace your taste buds for some authentic Japanese delicacies whether you’re traveling to Japan or just want to learn more about the cuisine.

Different Types of Sushi

There are several kinds of sushi, making it an attractive food for individuals with a wide variety of tastes. One type of sushi, nigiri-zushi, is a hand-formed mound of rice topped with various ingredients with a dab of wasabi. Maguro (tuna), toro (the belly of tuna), hamachi (yellowtail), and Ebi (shrimp) are all common nigiri-zushi.

The Japanese word for sushi rolls is Maki-zushi. Sushi rice and a row of fish and vegetables are layered with a sheet of nori (dried seaweed). With a makisu, the sheet is then tightly folded. The other two popular versions are tekkamaki (tuna rolls) and kappamaki (cucumber rolls). Additionally, inari-zushi is deep-fried tofu pouches filled with brown and oval-shaped sushi rice, and chirashi-zushi is sushi served on top of rice on a plate or bowl with various ingredients.

While fish is very common in sushi, you can also find uni (sea urchin) and ikura (salmon roe). Most of the sushi fish that the chefs prepare are fresh, although there are some exceptions. On sashimi menus, you’ll often find seared fish and unagi (eel) fried before serving.

Soy sauce and wasabi (Japanese horseradish) are the main seasonings used in sushi. Soy sauce is used as a dipping sauce, and wasabi is put into nigiri-zushi and can also be mixed for dipping with soy sauce (if you do this in a high-end sushi restaurant, expect angry looks). Pickled ginger (called gari) is often usually eaten with sushi to act as a cleanser for the palate. The best beverage to combine with sushi is green tea (agari).

Understanding Nigiri

Sushi Vs. Nigiri: Get To Know The Difference

Nigiri is the common sushi-style consisting of an oval-shaped mound of rice with a slice on top of (usually) raw fish. The Japanese nigirizushi, which translates as “hand-pressed sushi,” comes from the word Nigiri. Hence, Nigiri is a form of sushi where the maker mold the rice by hand. Then, the fish or other topping is pressed on top of the rice by hand. It is the stickiness and moisture of the rice that allows the strip of raw fish to cling to the mound of rice underneath.

The chef will sometimes put a small quantity of wasabi between the rice and the fish. It is also popular to have some form of garnish atop the fish, such as minced scallions or ginger. The fish is almost always raw. Typical examples include tuna, yellowtail, and salmon. Another common topping is fatty tuna, which comes from the belly portion of bluefin tuna. Shrimp nigiri, which features boiled and butterfly shrimp, and eel nigiri, are a few notable exceptions to the’ almost always raw’ statement.

It is made up of a sushi rice mound with a strip of grilled eel on top. The fish and seafood for Nigiri, and indeed for all sushi, must be fresh, whether cooked or raw and treated with great care. The preferred way to eat sushi is to pick it up with your fingers and eat each piece in a single bite, while sushi restaurants do offer chopsticks.

Another comprehensive subject requiring in-depth exploration is sushi etiquette. Still, Nigiri should usually be dipped in the soy sauce so that the tuna, not the rice, is soaked and eaten upside down against the tongue with the tuna. The explanation for dipping down the side of the sushi fish is that not too much soy sauce is absorbed by the rice and also that the soy sauce does not end up with rice grains in it.

Types of Nigiri Sushi

There’s something called gunkan-maki, in addition to the main form of nigiri sushi mentioned above. A kind of Nigiri with some sort of soft or semi-liquid topping, such as minced tuna, fish roe, or sea urchin, is Gunkan-maki. Gunkan-maki is therefore characterized by the fact that it is wrapped around the circumference of the rice mound. Moreover, it comes with a strip of nori, making it appear like a battleship.

Above the rice, the top edge extends, creating a kind of bowl or receptacle that keeps the topping in place. Another variant or subtype of Nigiri is known as nori-ribbon Nigiri, in which a thin strip of nori, wrapped or vertically attached around the Nigiri, secures the topping to the mound of rice. You can achieve it when the topping lacks enough moisture to stick correctly to the rice, such as in unagi, made with grilled or simmered eel strips, and tamagoyaki, which features a sweetened omelet topping.

Frequently Asked Questions

Both sushi and Nigiri offer exquisite flavors that burst in your mouth and your taste buds would love. If you don’t have any special diet or conditions, make sure to try both sushi and Nigiri. However, make sure that you control what you eat because it still contains some calories that are bad when you overeat.

Is Nigiri cooked?

Nigiri is a sushi and sashimi blend. It is a dish served over oblong mounds of pressed vinegar rice (sushi), consisting of raw slices of fish (sashimi). Nigiri is raw fish most of the time, but there are also kinds of Nigiri that can be fried or seared.

Why is sashimi more expensive than Nigiri?

Due to the catching process, the fish is already costly. Fish intended for sashimi are typically captured by line, which is the most time-consuming and laborious method. By injecting a spike through the brain to immediately kill the fish, they are dispatched with the ike-jime technique.

Is Nigiri good for you?

Thanks to the fish used in making this dish, nigiri is a decent source of heart-healthy omega-3 fatty acids. Even, sushi is low in calories-no added fat. Nigiri sushi is the most popular type, with sticky rice fingers topped with a small filet of fish or seafood. One slice of sushi nigiri has about 70 calories on average.


Moderation is the secret to enjoying sushi. Don’t eat fish every day, or at least cut down on varieties loaded with mercury. As mercury poisoning may cause significant harm to a developing fetus or infant, avoid these types of fish entirely during pregnancy or nursing. The best way to enjoy sushi and Nigiri is to have control and patience while eating. Stay careful of what you eat, particularly for raw fish and meat.

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