Nigiri vs Sashimi: What’s the Difference?

Nigiri vs Sashimi

If you like Asian cuisine, you probably heard of the many types of sushi you can try. Even if they are all from the sushi category, there are differences between these dishes that you should be aware of when choosing the one you prefer.

The most popular dishes in Asian cuisine are nigiri and sashimi. What’s the difference you ask? Well, the key difference between nigiri and sashimi is the main ingredient.

Nigiri can be made with tuna, salmon, or halibut and it has sushi rice as well. On the other hand, sashimi doesn’t contain rice, which is why in many areas it is not considered as sushi and it can be made of other meat types but fish.

Keep reading to understand the difference between these two dishes so you will know just what to order next time you try Asian cuisine.

Nigiri vs Sashimi Comparison Chart





Raw, cooked 

Always raw

Meat type


Fish, chicken, beef, shrimp, octopus, horse

Side dish 

Comes without 

Usually comes with a side dish 


Less pricey 

More pricey 

Where you can find it 

Around the world at all Japanese restaurants 

Around the world at all Japanese restaurants 

Nigiri vs Sashimi vs Maki


Every time you try the food of an Asian restaurant, especially a Japanese one, chances are that you will find nigiri, sashimi, and Maki on the food menu, among other types of sushi or dishes related to sushi. 

Nigiri is the closest to traditional sushi from all these dishes. It contains sushi rice that is treated with a special type of vinegar and it has fresh, raw fish on top of it. Unlike nigiri, sashimi doesn’t look like sushi as it only has raw meat, no rice, or any other ingredient.

Sashimi, just like nigiri can be made of tuna, salmon, or halibut but you can find chicken sashimi. Maki is a more popular but not traditional sushi type. It is also known as makizushi or California roll. This type of sushi is made of a rice roll that can contain ingredients such as vegetables, raw fish, and different condiments.

There are also multiple types of maki that you can pick from according to the ingredients you prefer. This roll can be wrapped in seaweed or rice foil

What is the Biggest Difference Between Nigiri and Sashimi?

When you think of nigiri and sashimi, the first difference that will come to mind is the fact that nigiri includes rice while sashimi doesn’t.

At first sight, this might be the only difference. However, it is not. As we mentioned, you can find sashimi made of chicken and other types of meat so not just fish as it happens with nigiri.

When it comes to sashimi, most often this dish is served along with a side dish and sauces such as soy sauce to add to its flavor. Good sashimi is all about how fresh the meat is and how well it is sliced. The slices of meat have to be slim and easy to chew. And always prepared on the spot.

Why is Sashimi More Expensive Than Nigiri?

Sashimi is usually pricier than nigiri or even other types of sushi and there is a good reason for that. Even if the dish seems simper as it only contains meat, this meat has to always come at the highest quality. The fish used for sashimi is always fresh, not frozen.

Additionally, the fish used for sashimi is not farmed fish or commercially exploited unlike other types of fish you can find in nigiri or different sushi rolls.

The best type of fish for sashimi is the one that is captured by line. So, this takes more resources and time. Plus, sashimi comes with a garnish that usually adds to the price.

This side dish for sashimi can be anything from seaweed to daikon radish and shiso leaves. The chef decides the garnish and the price will differ based on that.

What is the Sushi Called With Salmon on Top of Rice?


One of the most popular types of sushi has a thick block of rice that is covered with a thin layer of salmon. You will find this type of sushi with other fish types on top of it.

In all situations, this is the classic nigiri. The rice is made as all types of sushi rice are made with vinegar and sugar and the meat can be raw, smoked, or seasoned in different ways.

But if you are looking for a general image, you will find that a slice of salmon placed on top of a sushi rice block is the nigiri traditional recipe.

Can You Make Nigiri and Sashimi at Home?

Making nigiri or sashimi as well as other types of sushi is not difficult as long as you have the right ingredients. Without the proper ingredients, you will not get a similar quality to restaurant-made sushi of any type.

The best place to get your sushi ingredients is a local Asian market. However, freshness is key so make sure you prepare your dish as soon as you buy the ingredients. Otherwise, you lose quality the more time passes.

Nigiri recipe


Luckily, you will need a couple of main ingredients and some side ones. For the nigiri, you will need sushi rice as well as sushi vinegar which is a mix of vinegar sugar, and salt.

For a more authentic taste, you will need to use rice vinegar. You will also need the fish to place on top of the rice block.

For one cup of rice, you will need two cups of water and one tablespoon of vinegar mix. You can either add these ingredients to the rice cooker or prepare it on the stove by boiling the rice.

When it is ready, give it 10-15 minutes to cool down and from it in blocks by using your fingers. For nigiri, you need blocks of rice of the size of two fingers.

“Two fingers” is also the translation for nigiri. Add the slice of fish on top of the rice block. Serve with soy sauce and wasabi according to your preference.

For more flavor, you can marinate the fish in different sauces that you like before you add it on top of the rice.

Sashimi recipe


For sashimi, you just need meat and a garnish of your choice. Traditional sashimi is made of salmon or tuna. The slices of fish should be about five centimeters long and not more than two centimeters thick.

Remember that you have to use fresh fish at all times. You might want to purchase fish sold especially for sashimi. This type of fish is easier to find in Asian markets but it tends to be pricier than other types of fish.

Preparing sashimi shouldn’t take more than 10 minutes. Just cut the fish and serve it with the side dish of your choice.

You can add rice, seaweed, or just a mix of soy sauce and wasabi. The secret of delicious sashimi stays in the quality of the fish. Thus, this is an aspect you should never compromise on.


Both nigiri and sashimi are popular in Japanese restaurants all over the world. But it is important to know that sashimi will be made of different types of meat around the world, according to the resources.

Ultimately, if you want the best version of sashimi, you should always choose the fish version as other types of meat are more of a stretch to match the other cuisines while the fish sashimi is as traditional as it gets to Japanese recipe.

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