Difference Between Nigiri And Sashimi

Difference between nigiri and sashimi

Nigiri is thinly-sliced fish or meat laid atop a small amount of vinegar-soaked rice. Sashimi is thinly-sliced fish but is not laid atop rice and is often served with soy sauce.

Anyone who enjoys Japanese cuisine must be a fan of the popular types of sushi – Nigiri and Sashimi. While many people like the two, very few know the difference between them.

What Is Nigiri?

Nigiri translates to two fingers. As the name suggests, this is a little, tasty snack consisting of thin slices of raw fish spread over a mound of sweet and sour rice vinegar. The chilled roll has a unique texture because of the silky fish flavor, sticky rice, and acidic sauce.

Due to the simplicity and wholesomeness of the foods, a purist would argue that Nigiri is more traditional than Sashimi. People tend to think that to have a genuinely authentic sushi experience, a few pieces of excellent Nigiri are tough to pass up.

You may consume Nigiri with your hands or chopsticks, much like other types of sushi. No one will look down on you if you need to use a fork.

Nigiri displayed with sauce

What Are the Types of Nigiri?

Nearly any topping can go well with Nigiri; however, some are more well-liked than others. Check out these types of Nigiri.

Shrimp Nigiri

Sushi rice with either cooked or uncooked shrimp generally goes into shrimp Nigiri, or Ebi Nigiri as it is known in Japan. Before boiling or steaming the shrimp, they place a wooden skewer within the shell to keep the prepared shrimp flat.

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Freshwater Eel Nigiri

Sushi rice and unagi, or Japanese grilled freshwater eel, are used to make unagi Nigiri.

Yellowtail Nigiri

The ingredients for Hamachi Nigiri are sushi rice and yellowtail tuna.

Salmon Nigiri

Salmon Nigiri, also called Sake Nigiri in Japan, is a sushi roll prepared of raw salmon and sushi rice.

What Is Sashimi?

Sashimi consists of very thin, precisely cut raw beef strips, according to its name, which translates to pierced flesh. It’s the only item on the platter with no rice to complement its flavor. 

A tiny serving of soy sauce is frequently served with it. This may be wonderful and have a taste you didn’t know existed. Sashimi may include some other meats, unlike Nigiri, despite fish being the most popular ingredient. 

Bass, tuna, prawns, squid, chicken, raw meat, and even horse may go into Sashimi. However, locating poultry and beef choices in American eateries might be challenging. Still, as beginners, you can easily find it at a Japanese restaurant.

Sashimi held with chopsticks

What Are the Various Types of Sashimi?

Here are some common types of Sashimi that all Japanese cuisine lovers should try.

Tuna Sashimi

Almost every sushi restaurant that offers Sashimi on its menu carries maguro. The most popular is akami, the fish’s lean, firm, and meaty, deep crimson loins. Toro, the pink, fat belly pierced meat valued for its rich, creamy flavor, is at the top of the food chain. 

According to the amount of fat, toro typically comes in two grade levels: chutoro (middle) and otoro (premium).

Yellowtail Sashimi

Buri sometimes referred to as hamachi and connected to kanpachi, is a popular yellowtail dish. The fat content of the buri’s transparent, pinkish-white flesh gives it a delicious, buttery flavor. You can find it all year round, but winter is the best time to enjoy it.

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Mackerel Sashimi

When in season, people also appreciate saba as Sashimi, despite being more frequently served grilled. Its oily flesh’s rich, meaty flavor pairs beautifully with grated ginger and green onions

They sometimes preserve the fish by mildly pickling it in vinegar to lessen its savory flavor and help it stay fresh. The oiliness makes saba rot rapidly. Shimesaba, the resultant dish, has a delicate vinegar taste.

Sea Bream Sashimi

Tai is one of the best white-bodied fish in Japanese cuisine because of its gentle, delicate taste of the fish. Tai is frequently offered during festive occasions like weddings and the New Year.

Nigiri vs. Sashimi: What Is The Difference?

Slight variations contribute to the significant variations that make these delicacies so distinctive, one-of-a-kind, and adored by fans of the renowned Japanese cuisine. 

Cooking Style

Usually prepared with raw fish, Nigiri can occasionally have cooked or grilled fish according to the cook and the dish. Sashimi, on the other hand, is always raw.

Meat Content

Nigiri always consists of fish or other seafood, like salmon, tuna, shrimp, octopus, or squid. Fresh raw fish is ideal. Some people like scallops or meat substitutes in their nigiri. However, it never contains any meat. In addition to types of fish and other types of raw seafood, Sashimi can have thin slices of meat, beef, chicken, horse, or even frog.

Eating Method

You may consume Nigiri any way you like. Most people will use their hands or chopsticks, although using a fork is also ideal. It’s wise to drink Sashimi in one manner only, and that is by using chopsticks.


You can often serve Nigiri without any garnish. But the choice to serve this form of sushi with a sauce is entirely up to the cook. However, as is customary with many sushi, wasabi, pickled ginger, and soy sauce are typically served alongside it.

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Seaweed, daikon radish, shiso leaves, soy sauce, and other toppings are frequently used with Sashimi as a garnish. The sushi chef’s choice of presentation for their food will determine the diversity.

Nigiri vs. Sashimi
Cooked or Grilled Fish Cooking Style Cooked with Raw Fish
Only seafood, including salmon, tuna, prawns, etc. Meat Content  Apart from fish, it can contain meat of frog, beef, horse, or chicken
Hands, chopsticks, or fork Eating Style Chopsticks
No garnish Garnishing Garnished with seaweed, soy sauce, daikon radish, and shiso leaves

Which Is Healthier: Nigiri or Sashimi?

Since Nigiri is prepared with fish, it’s a rich source of omega-3 fatty acids. Sushi plates don’t have extra fat, and they’re known for having few calories.

The most popular variety of wholesome sushi is Nigiri. The Nigiri sushi dish has approximately 70 calories per serving and is relatively healthy for you.

In general, Nigiri is a healthy diet choice for those trying to lose weight. Even if daily sushi consumption may not be healthy, replacing fast food with occasional sushi can reduce weight. Whether you choose Nigiri or Sashimi, both are great options if you’re exploring Japanese food.

Why Is Sashimi So Expensive?

The amount of fish accounts for the high cost of Sashimi. Sashimi lacks the satisfying rice serving that Nigiri has, but has more fresh, good-quality fish ingredients. 

Sashimi requires high-quality fish because it’s eaten raw and frequently served by itself with only a garnish. Since it must easily fit with a bit of bite-sized rice accompaniment, the fish in Nigiri is often thinner and lighter than you would receive with Sashimi.

On the other hand, Sashimi is only fish. This is why it’s frequently thicker and bigger, meaning you get a lot more fish. In essence, while purchasing Sashimi, you are paying for the quantity and quality of the fish you receive.

Whether you order Nigiri or Sashimi, both are excellent choices when exploring Japanese cuisine.


Vanessa is passionate about written communication, especially after beginning her career as a middle school English teacher. She’s an experienced content marketer as well. Vanessa loves to analyze, compare, and contrast, which is why she writes for ContrastHub. Besides writing, Vanessa is a wife, mom, entrepreneur, spicy food enthusiast, comedy nerd and lifelong learner.

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