Difference between nigiri and sashimi

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Difference between nigiri and sashimi
Sushi Sashimi Platter

Before looking into the differences that exist between nigiri and sashimi, it’s imperative to understand what sushi is. Sushi is a cuisine from the Japanese community that consists of cooked vinegared rice along with other ingredients such as vegetables and seafood. Nigiri is a common type of Sushi which is a mound of vinegared rice that is covered by a piece of sliced, raw meat served without rice. On the other hand, sashimi isn’t a sushi but is usually listed as so in menus of Japanese restaurants. To get a picture of what these two are, let’s take a look at what nigiri and sashimi are.

What is Nigiri?

As mentioned, nigiri is a sushi that is made of fresh fish and vinegared rice. It’s a common dish that is served in many Japanese restaurants. The rice is formed into a clump by hand and a fish slice is put on top of the clumped rice. This dish uses fish of the highest quality that is chopped in an attractive manner. The fish commonly used in nigiri are freshwater eel (unagi), squid (ika), ocean eel (anago), tuna, octopus (tako), snapper, or shrimp. Depending on the fish used, this dish may be served grilled, raw, or cooked. Nigiri is usually accompanied by soy sauce, pickled ginger, and wasabi. This dish can be eaten by hand, although some people will prefer eating it with chopsticks. The nigiri is a simple dish which can be prepared even at home.

What is sashimi?

Sashimi, a Japanese delicacy, is prepared out of raw meat or fish that is sliced into thin pieces. You can order this dish at many sushi restaurants, though it should be noted that sashimi isn’t sushi. It’s generally served as the first meal course and is accompanied by wasabi, pickled ginger, soy sauce, and daikon radish. Although the slice of raw fish appears as a simple form of food, chefs who prepare sashimi put so much effort in creating a unique sashimi through different cuts, condiments, and presentations.

This meal is regularly a primary course in a Japanese dinner, and can likewise be a significant course, given miso soup and rice in discrete dishes. Gourmet experts from Japan consider this meal the finest dish in the community’s formal eating and recommend that people eat sashimi before the palate is influenced by other solid flavors. The cut fish which forms the main fixing is often hung over a trimming. A typical embellishment is the Asian white radish, daikon, created into long and thin strands. This dish is commonly presented with soy sauce (plunging sauce) and tipping; for instance, with ground ginger and wasabi glue, or, for the meat sashimi, ponzu, and embellishments such as destroyed daikon radish and shiso. Wasabi glue is blended now and then into soy sauce which is not done when eating sushi. Some people criticize the idea of blending wasabi into soy sauce, claiming that this act weakens the wasabi.

Sashimi chefs take so much pride in presenting the right dish to their consumers. As much as the sliced raw fish seems like the simplest meal, sashimi can be consumed at several levels and with various senses. One of the most elegant and easiest ways to eat fish, sashimi is consumed at the beginning of a meal before you can eat the heavier dishes. What makes sashimi an outstanding dish is that no two fish can taste the same, and even when different cuts are obtained from the same fish, they can still yield different textures and unique flavors. Sashimi chefs take pride in creating unique dishes through various cuts, sauces, presentations, and garnishes.

Difference between nigiri and sashim
Salmon Nigiri

What is the difference?

Both the Nigiri and the sashimi are Japanese dishes, although the meals have become popular and are used in various parts of the world including the Western countries.

Before knowing the differences between Nigiri and sashimi, it’s important to first know about sushi, one of the favorite Japanese meals. Sushi is vinegared rice that is prepared and served with different dishes. If it’s served with a single topping of fish, the dish is called nigiri. And if the thin slice of fish is prepared and served without rice, the dish is referred to as sashimi.

In most cases, sashimi is served as an appetizer or a palate cleanser. It is normally presented with garnishes like ginger, toasted nori, and shredded daikon. Apart from that, this meal is also served with soy sauce and wasabi.

Saltwater fish is utilized in preparing sashimi. The reason behind this is that fresh water has parasites that can be harmful to the intestines. Bass, abalone, Tuna, mackerel, shad, snapper, fish roe prawns, squid, and octopus are mainly used in sashimi.

On the other hand, nigiri can be referred to as a type of sushi since it comprises of two ingredients – rice and topping. Once the vinegared rice has been clumped, a slice of fish is put on top of the rice to make nigiri. It is also possible to toast this meal with nori. In other cases, wasabi is put in between the topping and the rice clump. Unlike sashimi, the fish used to make nigiri can be prepared in different forms including batter fried, grilled, or smoked. Eel, haddock, tuna, snapper, octopus, shad, and shrimp are some of the varieties used in serving nigiri. You can also combine this Japanese dish with other meals such as maki. The most common combination is grilled unagi, eel, and avocado.

A summary of the difference between nigiri and sashimi is given below.

• If vinegared rice or sashimi is served with a fish topping, the dish is referred to as nigiri. If a slice of fish is used without rice, the dish is known as sashimi.

• Nigiri can be referred to as a type of sushi since it contains two ingredients – rice and topping. On the other hand, sashimi is not a type of sushi

• Sashimi mainly utilizes raw saltwater fish. The fish served in nigiri can be slightly smoked, grilled, raw, or batter fried.

• Bass, tuna, mackerel, abalone, bonito, shad, squid, octopus, and fish roe prawns are mainly used in sashimi. On the other hand, nigiri uses haddock, eel, tuna, shrimp, octopus, and shad as the main seafood varieties.

Nigiri Sashimi
Made with vinegar fresh fish and rice Made of raw meat or fish sliced into thin pieces
Nigiri is Sushi Sashimi is not sushi
Nigiri may contain either cooked or raw fish Sashimi contains raw fish
Choices are empowering Decisions are not empowering
Nigiri can be eaten with chopsticks or by hand Sashimi is eaten using chopsticks
Nigiri comprises of fish and other seafood such as shrimp, squid, octopus, but never meat Sashimi is not necessarily fish. It can be thin slices of meat like horse, beef, frog, and chicken
Garnished with nothing Garnished with shisho leaves, daikon radish, toasted nori, at times other sauces

Table summarizing the differences between nigiri and sashimi


Although some people may mistake the two dishes, it’s clear that one (nigiri) is a type of sushi while the other (sashimi) is not. Therefore, when you happen to visit a Japanese restaurant, it’s important to differentiate the two. You also need to remember that sashimi contains raw fish while nigiri can contain cooked or raw fish. The choice of either of these two will depend on what you prefer.


References :

[0]Prabhat S. "Difference Between Nigiri and Sashimi." DifferenceBetween.net. June 14, 2011 < http://www.differencebetween.net/object/comparisons-of-food-items/difference-between-nigiri-and-sashimi/ >

[1]Nigiri vs Sashimi." . Diffen n.d. Web. 8 Feb 2017.

[2]Prabhat S. "Difference Between Nigiri and Sashimi." DifferenceBetween.net. June 14, 2011 < http://www.differencebetween.net/object/comparisons-of-food-items/difference-between-nigiri-and-sashimi/ >

[3][img] Salmon Nigiri : https://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/5/56/Salmon_nigiri.jpg

[4][img] Sushi Sashimi Platter : https://c1.staticflickr.com/1/156/330530549_ab7981f75e_z.jpg


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