Nigiri Vs Sashimi: Can You Spot These Differences?

Throughout history, aspects related to Japan have always been controversial topics, even in the food field. For example, when mentioning nigiri and sashimi, many people claim that they never try them because they are simply raw fish, especially those from Western culture. 

However, raw fish served in these 2 recipes is prepared in particular ways to create the unique taste you can not forget once tried. So, what exactly are the differences between nigiri vs sashimi, and which one should be tried first?

The content below is well collected and logically illustrated with several chosen points to provide you essential information about nigiri and sashimi so that you can distinguish them. 

Related: Top 18 most common types of meat 

Quick Facts


  • Type: thinly sliced fish with rice 
  • Meaning: “two-fingers” 
  • Preparation method: both cooked & uncooked 
  • Ingredients: fish & seafood 


  • Type: thinly sliced fish without rice 
  • Meaning: “pierced meat”
  • Preparation method: uncooked 
  • Ingredients: fish, seafood & other meat 

What Is The Biggest Difference Between Nigiri And Sashimi? 

For a fresher who tries Japanese food for the first time, telling nigiri and sashimi apart is pretty challenging. While they may seem similar to each other, the Japanese state that there are significant dissimilarities. 


  • Nigiri is defined as a kind of sushi with thinly sliced raw fish lying on top of pressed sweet and vinegared rice. 
  • On the other hand, despite being also made from raw fish, sashimi is no sushi at all. Instead, it is just the combination of several types of fish, such as salmon, tuna, etc., that are served without rice.


  • Nigiri has its name since the rice is made by being balled and pressed with two fingers to create the form. Thus, it simply means “two-fingers.”
  • When translated from Japanese, sashimi means “pierced meat,” reflecting that it is composed of many sliced raw “meat.”

Preparation method 

  • Nigiri: Although people would prefer tasting sliced raw fish, some types are not safe to eat in this way. Hence, cooked fish is also on the dish of nigiri. 
  • Sashimi: It only contains raw fish and is not supposed to be cooked. 


  • Nigiri: It can be made with fish (mainly) and other seafood like shrimp, octopus, etc. 
  • Sashimi: Besides fish and seafood, other kinds of raw meat such as beef, horse, chicken, and frog can also be the main ingredients. 

When learning about sashimi vs nigiri, you can figure out that many various characteristics distinguish them. However, the most essential and accessible point for you to realize is whether it is accompanied by rice. 

Why Is Sashimi More Expensive Than Nigiri? 

If you are new to sashimi and nigiri, you might likely come up with this concern. Simply speaking, the difference in fish used in these 2 recipes makes their price vary. You pay for the quantity and quality of the fish that you get.

While sashimi has strict requirements in the types of fish, nigiri does not. Sashimi must be prepared with high-quality fish because it is raw and usually only served with a side dish. 

What’s more, fish in nigiri is not consumed alone. It is put on top of the rice, which allows it to be sliced in smaller sizes. That also leads to the fact that people need more sashimi to feel complete. 

Lastly, nigiri usually is served with many side dishes while sashimi is not. However, the cost of these side dishes is not as expensive as fish, thus lowering the total price of nigiri. 

What Is The Sushi Called With Salmon On Top Of Rice? 

It is nigiri, obviously. As mentioned before, firstly, while nigiri is a type of sushi, sashimi is not, so it can not be the answer to the question. Secondly, sashimi is composed of only rice, fish, and meat. Therefore, no rice is be prepared with the dish. 

Find out more information about nigiri here

Can You Make Nigiri And Sashimi At Home? 

You can totally make nigiri and sashimi at home. Unfortunately, though, preparing them yourself is not simple as cooking an egg. You have to equip several professional skills and safety knowledge about preparing raw fish. 

Raw fish typically contains various parasites that harm the human digestive system. That’s why restaurants usually put fish in the freezer at least 15 hours before making them so that parasites, if any, might be killed. 

If you want to enjoy these Japanese delicacies with a homemade version, you should freeze fish at 4°F for a week. After this period, change the temperature to -31°F until it is solid. 

Nigiri Recipe 

Preparing is not an easy task that you can finish within a few minutes. Much effort and time must be devoted to creating the exact taste if you want to challenge yourself. Still, don’t worry and follow the steps illustrated below; you can succeed with your nigiri:

  • Step 1: Prepare rice 

Jumping immediately into making nigiri sushi would be a huge mistake you may make. So instead, prepare the sushi rice to be used first: simply add sushi vinegar to your daily cooking rice. 

If you are in a rush and can not cook rice yourself, you can utilize the microwave rice recipe: mix 250 grams of rice with one tablespoon of sushi rice vinegar and put it in the microwave. 

  • Step 2: Prepare additional ingredients

When rice is cooked, you can utilize this time to prepare fish fillets, vegetable chunks, or any other ingredient you want to add. Japanese choose to make Tamagoyaki, a delicious Japanese-style omelet and a popular sushi ingredient. 

  • Step 3: Make pods

To avoid rice being stuck in your hand and keep it clean, you should rinse your hands with a mixture of vinegar and water.  After that, take the appropriate amount of rice and put it evenly,  press the lid down, turn the mold over, and press the rice.

  • Step 4: Add mustard and ginger

This step is optional because many foreigners can not stand the spicy taste of mustard. Hence, when serving nigiri for many people, you should prepare both mustard and soy sauce. What’s more, sushi ginger should also be forgotten. 

Click here to learn how to make sashimi with ginger.

Sashimi Recipe 

Preparing sashimi is quite a tough job because you must be reasonably skillful in using a knife. Or else, don’t wonder why your result looks different from that of the restaurants. 

When making sashimi, you can use a variety of fish. Yet, the best type of sashimi recommended by professional chefs would include tuna, sea bass, red mullet, halibut, salmon, sea bream. Besides, you can also eat other seafood such as scallop, lobster, squid, and octopus.

Here are some steps for cutting sashimi:

  • Step 1: Eliminate the skin of Daikon radish. Use the knife to cut into thin slices. Put them into a bowl of cool water and let them sit for 15 minutes to make them brittle. 
  • Step 2: Cut the fishes into 1/4 “1/3” (6 mm 8 mm) thick pieces while waiting for radish. If you use salmon, Thinly slice it at a slight angle.

Step 3: Put the sashimi on a plate with radish, perilla leaves, and wasabi, and dip it in soy sauce.

Mariana Rouco

Mariana Rouco is the editor-in-chief of She loves traveling and writing about foods and cooking in general. She has a degree from the New England Culinary Institute and enjoys Mexican, Italian, and Chinese cuisines the most.

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