Nigiri Vs. Sashimi: What’s The Difference?

 Nigiri vs Sashimi


The world of sushi is vast and varied, with an abundance of delicious flavors. But for those new to Japanese cuisine, there can be a lot of confusion regarding the different types of dishes available. For example, what's the difference between nigiri vs. sashimi? In this article, we will explore the differences between these two popular sushi options so you can make informed choices on your next visit to a Japanese restaurant!

The Difference Between Nigiri and Sashimi

Nigiri is sushi with slices of raw fish or other ingredients on top of pressed vinegared rice. Sashimi is just slices of raw fish or meat without any rice underneath it, usually served with sides such as wasabi and soy sauce for dipping.

 Both feature fresh, high-quality seafood as their main ingredient — something that has been essential to Japanese cuisine since ancient times. 

Nigiri - The Origins

Nigiri sushi is a type of sushi that is made of small portions of fish or seafood, pressed onto a ball of sushi rice. This traditional Japanese delicacy is typically served with soy sauce, wasabi, and pickled ginger. Nigiri sushi is believed to have originated in the 1800s in Tokyo, where it was originally called Edomae sushi. The name refers to the fact that the fish used in the sushi was caught in Tokyo Bay, which was known as Edo Bay at the time.

The art of making nigiri sushi requires skill and precision. The sushi chef must select the right type of fish or seafood, cut it into the perfect size and shape, and then carefully press it onto the rice ball with just the right amount of pressure. The rice used in nigiri sushi is also important, as it should be cooked to perfection and seasoned with vinegar and sugar for the perfect balance of flavors.

Today, nigiri sushi is enjoyed around the world and is often considered the epitome of Japanese cuisine. With its simple yet elegant presentation and delicious flavor, it's no wonder why this delicacy has become so popular.

Sashimi- The Origins

On the other hand, there are some who believe that sashimi may have originated from a Chinese dish known as "shengyu" or "raw fish". It is said that the dish was introduced to Japan by Chinese immigrants during the Tang dynasty. However, others argue that the concept of eating raw fish was already present in Japan, and that sashimi evolved from various traditional Japanese dishes that featured raw fish.

Despite the debate over its origins, there is no denying that sashimi has become an integral part of Japanese cuisine. The dish is known for its fresh and delicate flavors, and is often served as an appetizer or as part of a larger meal. From the humble beginnings of being enjoyed by working-class people to being a delicacy savored by Japanese royalty, sashimi has come a long way and continues to be a favorite among food enthusiasts around the world.

Nigiri Vs. Sashimi, Differences In Ingredients Used

While the origins of these dishes may vary, one thing is certain: their ingredients set them apart.

Regarding fish used, various options are generally acceptable when making nigiri. Often, fatty tuna or salmon is used due to its flavourful profile and texture. On the other hand, sashimi typically consists only of thinly sliced raw seafood like squid, shrimp, mackerel, yellowtail, or sea bream.

The type of rice used for making nigiri is also distinctive compared to what goes into a roll, usually short-grain white rice, which has been cooked with vinegar and sugar. As for the seaweed sheets commonly found rolled up around maki-style sushi? These are made from nori—a type of edible algae harvested off Japan's coastlines.

Finally, when it comes to garnishing either dish, you'll find different accompaniments, such as grated daikon radish (daikon oroshi) offered alongside. In contrast, ginger root (gari) is often served with pieces of nigiri. Other toppings like julienned cucumbers can be added atop some kinds of nigiri too! With all these varied flavors at play between these two iconic dishes, it's no wonder they're so beloved throughout Japan and beyond! 

Different Types Of Nigiri And Sashimi

Both offer a vast variety of options, often distinguished by the type of fish or raw meat used, their decoration, and the region of origin. For the purpose of this section, we will focus on some of the most popular types, grouped by dish type. This will help you navigate the diverse and extensive world of sushi and make informed choices.

Nigiri Types

  • Maguro: Made with slices of fresh, raw tuna, often sourced from bluefin tuna. It has a meaty texture and a rich flavor.
  • Sake: Made with fresh, raw salmon slices, often farm-raised for consistent quality and availability. It has a bright orange color and a buttery flavor.
  • Hamachi: Made with raw yellowtail slices, which have a delicate buttery flavor. It is often used in high-end sushi restaurants.
  • Ebi: Made with cooked, peeled shrimp, which has a sweet flavor and a firm texture. 
  • Unagi: Made with a freshwater eel that has been grilled and marinated in a sweet and savory sauce. It has a tender texture and a rich, smoky flavor.
  • Tamago: Made with a sweet, fluffy egg omelet that is usually seasoned with soy sauce and sugar. It has a delicate, sweet flavor and a light, spongy texture.
  • Ikura: Made with salmon roe, which has a firm, slightly salty flavor and a pop of texture when you bite into it.
  • Tobiko: Made with flying fish roe, which has a crunchy texture and a mild, slightly sweet flavor.
  • Hotate: Made with fresh, raw scallop, which has a delicate, sweet flavor and a soft, chewy texture.
  • Ika: Made with raw squid, which has a mild flavor and a firm, slightly chewy texture.
  • Amaebi: Made with raw, sweet shrimp, which has a delicate, sweet flavor and a tender texture.
  • Kani: Made with fresh, cooked crab meat, which has a sweet, delicate flavor and a soft, slightly flaky texture.

Sashimi Types: 

  • Maguro: Made with sliced fresh, raw tuna, known for its deep red color and meaty texture. 
  • Sake: Made with sliced fresh, raw salmon with a bright orange color and a buttery flavor.
  • Hamachi: Made with sliced fresh, raw yellowtail, which has a delicate and buttery flavor. 
  • Tai: Made with sliced raw sea bream, a mild, delicate flavor, and a firm texture. 
  • Saba: Made with sliced raw mackerel, which has a rich, oily flavor and a meaty texture. It is often served with sliced scallions and ginger.
  • Aji: Made with raw horse mackerel with a rich, oily flavor and a tender texture.
  • Tako: Made with sliced raw octopus with a slightly sweet, chewy texture. It is often served with sliced cucumber and wasabi.
  • Ika: Made with sliced raw squid, a mild flavor, and a firm, slightly chewy texture. 
  • Uni: Made with fresh, raw sea urchin roe with rich, creamy texture and a briny, slightly sweet flavor. It is often served as a delicacy and is best enjoyed on its own.
  • Ebi: Made with raw, peeled shrimp, which has a sweet flavor and a firm, slightly chewy texture. 
  • Hotate: Made with sliced fresh, raw scallop, which has a delicate, sweet flavor and a soft, chewy texture. 
  • Mirugai: Made with raw giant clam, which has a slightly sweet flavor and a firm, slightly chewy texture. 
  • Anago: Made with grilled saltwater eel, which has a soft, tender texture and a sweet, smoky flavor. 



The preparation is an intricate process. Making nigiri requires expertise from a sushi chef, who delicately molds the rice into the desired shape with their hands while carefully topping it with slices of raw fish or other ingredients. This art form has been practiced in Japan for centuries and continues to be revered today. However, Sashimi chefs are also highly skilled professionals. They must use sharp knives to expertly slice through the fish fillet without compromising its texture or taste. These thin cuts allow maximum flavor to be enjoyed by those indulging in this traditional Japanese cuisine.

In addition to skillful cutting techniques, the chef must adhere to specific food safety regulations when preparing these dishes. They have to pay attention not only to the freshness of the seafood but also to make sure that all necessary sanitation measures are taken before serving them. Furthermore, since some types of fish can become toxic if not prepared correctly, chefs need to stay up-to-date on any new food safety laws to ensure everyone's health and wellbeing.

Regardless of which type of dish you're having, both require patience, dedication, and skill - qualities that should always be appreciated, whether you're enjoying one at home or eating out at a restaurant. And with so wide different varieties available, there's something delicious for everyone to savor! The next step is learning how best to serve sashimi and nigiri - let's explore that now!


 Nigiri is usually served on a plate garnished with pickled ginger and wasabi paste. On the other hand, sashimi is simply thin slices of raw fish that are arranged neatly on the plate and accompanied by condiments, including soy sauce, wasabi paste, pickled ginger, and dried seaweed.

Although both foods share the common ingredient of high-quality, fresh fish, they offer distinctive taste experiences due to their unique preparation and accompaniments. For example, when eating nigiri, it is customary to dip each piece using your hands to only dip fish part into a small bowl of soy sauce to avoid overpowering the rice with too much seasoning. In contrast, sashimi should be savored with a chopstick and without dipping first to allow its delicate flavors to shine through and not be overpowered by additional seasoning.

Sashimi Vs. Nigiri, Nutritional Value

When discussing the nutritional value of Sashimi vs. Nigiri, looking at both separately is essential. First, let's talk about nigiri; this form of sushi contains more calories than sashimi due to its generous servings of white rice. Additionally, nigiri can be prepared using various seafood toppings, such as tuna, squid, and even octopus. Each topping brings different nutrients, including protein, carbohydrates, and fats.

On the other hand, sashimi consists solely of thin slices of fresh fish without any additional accompaniment. Due to this fact, it has fewer calories but still provides healthy proteins from the fish itself:

• Protein & Fats: Salmon – 20 grams per 3 ounces; Tuna – 25 grams per 3 ounces.

• Carbohydrates: Rice – 45 grams per 1 cup; Soy Sauce – 2 grams per tablespoon

Overall, both are great sources of essential nutrients that anyone could benefit from eating regularly. With their unique tastes and textures plus the vast health benefits they offer, there's no wonder these two Japanese delicacies remain popular today!

The Cost

When it comes to the cost, there are a few things to consider. For starters, prices depend on where you're ordering from and the type of fish or seafood used in your order. Generally speaking, though, nigiri tends to be more affordable than sashimi due to its smaller portion size. You can often find both items listed on the same sushi menu, with different price points depending on the variety of fish included.

Another factor that impacts the cost of these two types of dishes is preparation time. Since sashimi requires more intricate slicing techniques than nigiri, it usually costs more per plate. This also means that if you plan on making either dish at home, you'll need extra time for shopping and preparation before serving up fresh-tasting dishes!

No matter which one you choose off the sushi menu, quality ingredients will make all the difference in flavor. It's worth researching local vendors who specialize in sourcing high-quality fish and seafood for their restaurants so that you get an enjoyable experience without breaking the bank. With this knowledge, you can decide which option works best for your taste buds and budget.

Health Benefits 

When it comes to health benefits, there's a lot to consider. Both dishes offer a range of nutritious options that can benefit overall wellbeing. Here's what you need to know about the nutritional value of these two popular Japanese delicacies.

Nigiri is composed of raw fish, or other seafood served over rice. The type of fish used in this dish typically provides plenty of healthy vitamins like B12 and omega-3 fatty acids, which are essential for brain health. On the other hand, sashimi consists solely of thin slices of uncooked fish or other meats, without any accompaniments such as rice. This allows diners to get all the nutritional benefits from consuming fish meat without worrying about additional fats or calories associated with carbs found in rice. 

Both dishes provide an array of minerals and vitamins, including zinc, magnesium, and several different amino acids - all necessary components for maintaining a balanced diet. In addition, regularly consuming either one of them could help reduce cholesterol levels and blood pressure and improve your cardiovascular system, making it easier to stay active and healthy!

No matter which option you choose – nigiri or sashimi – both have been proven as delicious yet extremely nutritious meals that should definitely be part of your regular diet routine if you want to lead an active lifestyle. Moving forward, we'll explore how best to enjoy these tasty treats so they can bring maximum benefit to your life!

How To Enjoy 

How to enjoy nigiri or sashimi

Firstly, paying attention to the texture when choosing your ingredients is important. Look for high-quality, firm fish with vibrant colors that indicate its freshness. For best results when preparing nigiri sushi, use only freshly caught saltwater fish that has been stored in ice until ready to be used; this will result in firmer flesh and better flavor. When selecting sashimi-grade fish, look for cuts that have smooth edges and uniform thickness so they can cook evenly.

For seasoning and garnishes for your dishes, start with light flavors like soy sauce and wasabi paste before adding more complex ones such as pickled ginger or citrus zest if desired. Experimenting with different seasonings helps enhance the dish's natural flavors while also allowing you to customize the taste according to your preferences. Finally, remember the presentation: beautiful plating techniques help make the meal more enjoyable!

TIP: To ensure maximum freshness and safety when eating either nigiri or sashimi, always buy from trusted sources and check expiration dates on store packages before purchasing them. This way, you can guarantee quality ingredients every time!

Frequently Asked Questions

How Long Can They Be Stored?

Both these dishes can be stored in the refrigerator for a short period of time if appropriately prepared. But how long exactly can they last before being thrown out? Let's take a look.

Since nigiri sushi is made with rice and fish, it won't keep as long as sashimi when stored in the fridge. But, generally speaking, nigiri will stay fresh for up to 24 hours after preparation before its quality starts to deteriorate.

On the other hand, sashimi consists solely of thinly-sliced pieces of raw fish or other seafood without any additional accompaniments. It's important to note that this dish should only be eaten immediately after preparing it; consuming leftovers from yesterday could lead to food poisoning due to bacteria growth over time. Here are some tips for storing them:

Always refrigerate within 2 hours of making your sushi or sashimi

• Wrap tightly, so no air gets inside

• Consume within 24 hours of preparation

Correctly storing both nigiri & sashimi requires attention to detail since improper handling can make you ill. Suppose you want to enjoy these tasty Japanese delicacies safely while preserving their flavor. In that case, keeping an eye on their expiration dates is essential!

Are There Regional Variations Of Nigiri & Sashimi?

 Many people think of them as being the same thing. However, there are actually some key differences between them. But what about regional variations? Are there different types of these popular dishes depending on where you go? Let's find out!

The first thing to understand is that both are traditional Japanese dishes. Both can be enjoyed in restaurants worldwide, but there could be more than meets the eye when it comes to regional varieties.

For example, Hawaii's version of poke typically includes diced tuna mixed with seaweed and flavored sauces. Likewise, Osaka, Japan's third largest city, has its take on nigiri: oshi-zushi, which involves pressing layers of fresh fish onto square molds filled with seasoned rice. Meanwhile, down south in Okinawa, they have something known as gazami-zushi, which features steamed shellfish pressed into rectangular molds instead of slices placed over a bed of rice. So as you can see, even within Japan, there are multiple takes on this beloved dish!

No matter what popular type of sushi someone enjoys – whether it's classic nigiri or something unique like a poke – each region offers its own delicious spin on this centuries-old tradition. With so much variety, why not try something new today?

Does Nigiri Contain Gluten?

The short answer is no: neither nigiri nor sashimi contains any gluten. However, it's essential to know what type of ingredients may accompany these two popular Japanese dishes, which can add gluten.

For those who have celiac disease or are sensitive to gluten, there are certain things to look out for when ordering these dish variations to avoid potential cross-contamination. When dining out, here are five tips for eating safely:

1) Double-check all sauces that come with your meal, as some may contain hidden sources of gluten;

2) Ask if the restaurant uses separate utensils when preparing meals for customers with allergies;

3) Avoid adding tempura flakes, which often contain wheat flour;

4) Be sure to ask about marinades used on any proteins served; and

5) Skip anything fried since this could also use breadcrumbs containing gluten.

Fortunately, being able to enjoy classic Japanese dishes doesn't mean having to sacrifice taste - just be mindful whenever you dine out! With proper knowledge and preparation, everyone can continue savoring their favorite rolls without worrying about cross-contamination.

What Are The Best Substitutes For Sushi Rice?

When it comes to sushi, rice is the key ingredient. Without it, there would be no nigiri. But what if you don't have access to the right rice? What are some of the best substitutes?

The good news is there are a few options available that can help make your dish come alive! For one thing, short-grain brown rice works well as a substitute for sushi rice. In addition to having a similar texture and flavor profile, brown rice offers more fiber and nutrients than white rice. Another alternative is quinoa. It's gluten-free and has a chewy texture that makes it perfect for making sushi rolls. Finally, pearl barley is another excellent option – its nutty flavor pairs perfectly with fillings like fish and vegetables.

Remember to cook it properly, no matter which substitutes you choose, so your result tastes just as delicious as traditional sushi made with vinegared rice! To get started, rinse the grains thoroughly in cold water before cooking them over medium heat until they're tender but firm to the bite. A little seasoning and vinegar will bring out their flavors even more.

Is It Possible To Make Vegetarian Sushi?

Vegetarian sushi is a delicious and nutritious alternative to the traditional version that includes fish. Its unique combination of flavors and textures can be just as satisfying. But what makes vegetarian sushi different from regular sushi?

The main difference lies in the ingredients used. While both use fresh seafood, vegetarian sushi typically uses vegetables such as cucumber, avocado, eggplant, and sweet potato. Vegetables are often combined with other plant-based ingredients, including tofu, tempeh, seitan, mushrooms, and various types of seaweed, for further flavor complexity. Additionally, it's possible to make vegan versions that replace any dairy products found in traditional recipes with plant-based substitutes like coconut milk or nut cheeses.

Making vegetarian sushi at home is relatively easy if you have the right ingredients. You'll need some short-grain rice, preferably Japanese-style medium-grain rice cooked according to instructions; nori sheets, plus whatever fillings you want, such as those mentioned above. Once prepped and cut into bite-sized pieces – voila! You've got yourself a tasty homemade veggie roll that everyone will love.

Whether you're looking for an interesting way to spice up your lunch routine or hosting a dinner party for friends, vegetarian sushi is sure to please all palates – so why not give it a try?


In conclusion, If you want to know the difference between nigiri vs. sashimi, we explained it well in the article above; however, here is a summary: Nigiri is made with rice covered with fish, while sashimi does not contain rice and is just slices of raw fish. 

Both dishes can be stored for short periods if appropriately kept refrigerated. Still, it's best to consume them as soon as possible. In addition, there may be regional variations in how these dishes are prepared, such as using different seafood or vegetables. 

Additionally, both of them usually do not contain gluten, and there are many suitable substitutes for traditional sushi rice, including quinoa and cauliflower "rice, " making it possible to make vegetarian versions. Finally, whether you choose nigiri or sashimi, both offer delicious flavors and textures that will tantalize your taste buds.