nigiri vs sashimi

The main difference between Nigiri and Sashimi is the ingredients and method of preparation. Nigiri is one of the types of sushi, that consists of thin slices of raw fish topped over a layer of sweet and salty vinegared rice on the other hand sashimi is technically not sushi because it does not include any kind of rice which is the main ingredient of sushi.

Sashimi is a simple dish consists of thin slices of raw meat or fish served with pickles, soy sauce, and wasabi paste and often garnished with shisho leaves, daikon radish, and toasted nori.

Both Nigiri and Sashimi are Japanese dishes and look very similar. On visiting a sushi eatery, you will come across a dozen sushi recipes that could confuse you especially if you are unfamiliar with the food itself.

Comparison Chart

Basis Nigiri Sashimi
Cuisine Japanese Japanese
Ingredients Thin slices of raw fish pressed over a small ball of vinegared rice Slices of raw fish (or other meat) served without rice
Cooked or Raw Mostly raw, but fish in Nigiri can be cooked Always raw
Meat Nigiri is always made up of fish and other seafood such as shrimp, squid, and octopus Sashimi can be made up of any meat like thin slices of raw fish, chicken, beef, or even other meats like horse and frog
Garnishing Usually not garnished with anything however on request may be garnished with a sauce Usually garnished with shisho leaves, daikon radish, toasted nori (seaweed), and some sauces
Type of Sushi Yes No
Chopsticks Nigiri can be eaten by chopsticks or by using hands Sashimi is always eaten with the help of chopsticks

What is Nigiri?

Many people love nigiri more because they feel like nigiri has more of a substance while sashimi is more of a side dish rather than a meal.

These days Japanese cuisine especially Nigiri has gained a lot of popularity and is well-loved by a lot of people from all around the world and it is also a very good source of heart-healthy omega-3 fatty acids.

There are varieties of sushi available but one particular type that is quickly gaining popularity is Nigiri Sushi.

In Japanese, the word Nigiri means “two fingers” with Ni meaning “two” and Giri stands for “fingers”

The word two fingers refer to the amount of rice for each Nigiri that must be enough to fit comfortably between the chef’s two fingers when pressing down on the rice.


How to make a Nigiri?

Nigiri is always made of seafood usually, the main ingredient is raw fish but it can also be made of octopus, shrimp, and squid but never with meat.

  • The first step is to take high-quality raw fish but if you are not sure about the quality do not use it. Instead, you can grill, bake, or roast the fish before slicing.
  • Cut each piece of fish into small and thin slices. Use a sharp knife for even cuts because the presentation of the fish is important.
  • Dip your hands in water and make sure to keep them wet this step helps to prevent the rice from sticking to your hands.
  • Now with your hands grab about 20-30 grams of sushi rice and roll and squeeze it together until it rolls into a long oval shape.
  • Place a dab of wasabi on one side of the fish slice, now place the slice of fish on the rice log with the wasabi side facing down on the rice.
  • Lay the slice gently on the rice and press it firmly to stick to the rice.
  • Garnish and serve the nigiri sushi with greens and a little fish roe.

The most important step while making a Nigiri sushi is to maintain the perfect balance between the rice and topping. The ideal sushi is not too loose or too tight and must have the right amount of space between grains of rice.

What is Sashimi?

Sashimi, known as the star of Japanese cuisine is something raw, sliced, and served. It can be made of anything like raw fish, beef, scallops, and even chicken served with soya sauce and wasabi (green ground ginger).

The history of eating raw fish or meat is said to have started with the history of humanity. Japan had easy access to fresh fish throughout history as it is surrounded by ocean and in Japanese, the word sashimi means “pierced body” that can be eaten all on its own.


How to make Sashimi?

When it comes to sashimi, almost any fish can be chosen but some of the best seafood varieties are tuna, scallop, bonito, kingfish, or snapper.

  • If you are choosing smaller fish and seafood like prawns always go for fresh as the flavor and texture of fish changes over time however larger fishes like snapper needs to be kept on ice for a few hours or overnight for their flavors to improve.
  • After the fish has been carefully chosen, it is filleted and skinned (if choosing a whole fish).
  • After it is sliced, it is arranged as a kind of landscape with three edible garnishes on the plate.
  • Ken is a mound of shredded and curled daikon radish or Japanese leak, or wakame seaweed. Ken acts like a base and holds up the fish and its color helps the fish stand out visually.
  • Tsuma is smaller and vibrantly colored piles of tiny herbs, cresses or flowers such as shiso (leaves, flowers, or buds) or Benita de (a peppery purple herb). It is a foreground element below the fish and can be used to flavor the fish.
  • Karami is any kind of pungent spice served a condiment with sashimi such as wasabi.

The best way to eat sashimi is to use a pair of chopsticks, pick up a slice and dip it in soya sauce with wasabi.

Key Differences between Nigiri and Sashimi

  1. Nigiri- Raw fish over vinegar rice while sashimi is a raw fish no rice.
  2. Nigiri is always made of fish while sashimi can be of any meat.
  3. Nigiri is more traditional in which the smooth taste of fish combines with the sticky and tangy flavor of the rice while sashimi is a raw fish eaten with just a dab of soy sauce.

Comparison Video


Both nigiri and sashimi are staples of traditional Japanese cuisine. The only difference between the two is the presentation and flavor due to the difference in their ingredients.