You will always see these three Japanese fish dishes on the menu list of every sushi restaurant. If you are not familiar with the difference between these dishes, you will take time when placing your order.
Sushi is the most common Japanese dish of these three. It is served in all Japanese restaurants in every part of the world. Although some people use Nigiri, sashimi, and sushi alternately, they are not the same.
Nigiri is the best option for those who want to enjoy the taste of raw fish with garnishing. Sashimi is suited for those who want to savor the taste of uncooked fish or meat and veggies.
Are you unsure of which Japanese fish dish to order from the menu? This article will give you a clue on the difference between a nigiri, sashimi, and sushi.
Nigiri is also known as Nigirizush or musubi. It is a Japanese word that means to hold firmly or grip with two fingers. The term varies by country or regional area. It is a specific type of sushi prepared with thinly sliced raw or cooked fish with vinegar rice. Nigiri is often eaten raw, but some of the fish are seared, grilled, or boiled. This is dependent on the home cook’s preference.
This Japanese dish is prepared with vinegared rice and thin slices of fish. The rice balls are molded into various shapes by hand and garnished or pickled with different condiments and ingredients. Then it is compressed with two fingers to form a base. A thin slice of fish is placed atop the molded rice base with green vegetable toppings.
Nigiri is served on the dining table in twos or pairs. It is covered with seaweed, but some other nigiri is served without the nori sheet. It is pickled with only salt or seasoning like sesame seeds. This is presented on wooden trays and consumed with either clean hands or chopsticks.
The most common seafood and fish used in preparing a nigiri include salmon, tuna, shrimp, squid, octopus, crab, freshwater eel, herring roe, egg omelet, yellowtail, salmon roe, cooked shrimp, squid, and abalone. They all have distinctive flavor, aroma, and taste. The different ingredients for topping are tuna mayo, pickled plums, bonito flakes, teriyaki chicken, soy sauce, pickled ginger, wasabi, and pickles. Salmon or tuna nigiri are the best options to try if you are eating it for the first time because the taste and aroma are distinctive.
Although sashimi is always on the menu of most sushi joints, it is different from sushi. Sashimi does not include vinegared rice that makes it different from other sushi. Sashimi in Japanese means punctured flesh or meat. It originated from a culinary practice of sticking the fish’s fin and tail to the thin slices in identifying the fish eaten.
Sashimi is a Japanese dish of only thin slices of either raw fish, poultry, or meat such as scallop, sea urchin, mackerel, red snapper, tuna, yellowfin tuna, salmon, octopus, chicken, turkey, beef, frog, or horse. Most professional chefs prefer to use saltwater fish than freshwater fish because freshwater fish contains parasites that are not safe for eating. These parasites cause stomach discomfort.
Presentation matters when serving sashimi. The different cuts of the same meat or fish create a different taste, texture, and flavor. No two salmon taste the same. They always taste different. Sashimi is best served as an appetizer. It comes before the main dish. It is served without rice and is eaten with the use of chopsticks.
Home chefs take great care in slicing the fish or meat. It is garnished with different ingredients to make it attractive. Although sashimi is a healthy meal that provides protein, minerals, and vitamins, it is not safe for pregnant women because it is uncooked.
The quality and taste of the sashimi depend on the freshness of the fish used in preparing it. Sashimi does not require any form of heat and is eaten raw. It is sliced with precision, well garnished, and then served. The nutritional value varies based on the type of fish used, how it is sliced and garnished.
Sashimi is garnished in different ways. The popular toppings are toasted nori, shredded salon radish, shiso leaves, daikon radish, or any sauce.
Sushi is a Japanese terminology that refers to any meal made with vinegared rice. Sushi is a highly nutritious meal with low fat. It contains carbohydrates, vitamins, protein, minerals, and low calories.
Most people confuse sushi for raw meat when it is vinegared rice and other ingredients such as veggies, seafood, and eggs. Many sushi recipes include raw fish, and others do not.
Sushi is prepared with various ingredients, condiments, and toppings. It is a balanced meal and healthier to consume frequently.
Sushi is prepared with pickled medium-grain rice and seafood. Such as eel, crab, and calamari. What differentiates sushi from other Japanese fish dishes is the rice mixed with vinegar. The rice is the main ingredient when making sushi. It can be served without fish, and not all fish used in preparing sushi is served raw, some are seared or cooked
Sushi comes in different varieties. The fascinating thing about sushi is that there are options for both vegetarians and non-vegetarians. Other types of sushi are scattered sushi, rolled sushi, pressed sushi, and handmade sushi.
The recipe for vegetarian sushi includes green veggies, carrot, red or yellow pepper, egg, avocado pear, and cucumber. Vegetarians also like to add wasabi, soy sauce, nori, and pickled ginger.
Non-vegetarians options include fish, meat, and other seafood that provides omega-3.
The origin of sushi can be traced back to a rice field in Asia. It was heard in Japan in 718. The availability and accessibility of vinegared rice became popular in the 1990s. Seaweed sheet was invented in the 1700s.
Nigiri, sashimi, and sushi are ancient Japanese cuisine. They are specific restaurants and joints that are exclusively for sushi dishes. As the world evolves, these Japanese cuisines are now served in different restaurants all over the world.
Most people don’t like to eat sushi because it is prepared with raw fish. There is this misconception about the fish not being fresh. However, these Japanese cuisines are made with fresh fish or meat. These fishes are of high-quality fresh fish and are safe for eating.
According to the traditional way of eating a nigiri, only the fish should be dabbed or dipped in soy sauce, while sashimi should be eaten with soy sauce mixed with wasabi.
Modern sushi is prepared differently from the conventional method and has a wide range of options.
These local Japanese dishes take a few minutes to prepare but require more dexterity to cut precisely.
What’s the Difference?
Understanding the difference between Nigiri, sashimi, and sushi as a beginner may not come easy until you have tasted them for yourself. Below are the major differences between Nigiri, sashimi, and sushi.
You might be wondering if Nigiri, sashimi, and sushi are boiled or raw?
Nigiri is a type of sushi prepared with thin slices of raw or cooked fish atop vinegared rice. It is prepared raw, but some of the fish can be seared or cooked.
Sushi is cooked rice mixed with vinegar and garnished with other ingredients such as veggies and condiments. There are varieties of sushi without raw meat or fish.
Sashimi is not a type of sushi. It is a Japanese dish that is prepared with thin slices of raw fish or meat without rice. It is added as a topping to sushi to make Nigiri. Sashimi is prepared raw and does not need to be cooked or seared at all.
Presentation and Toppings
Nigiri, Sushi, and Sashimi are different Japanese meals both in preparation and presentation. They are often garnished with pickled ginger, green veggies, wasabi, and soy sauce. The pickled ginger cleanses your taste bud and prepares your mouth for a sumptuous meal ahead.
Nigiri is served on a wooden tray with or without garnishing. This is based on individual preference.
Sushi is garnished with veggies and other ingredients to spice it up.
Sashimi is always garnished with different sauce and ingredients such as soy sauce, toasted seaweed, shiso leaves, wasabi, pickled ginger, and daikon radish.
Meat or Fish
Nigiri is a combination of both sushi and sashimi, but it does not include any red meat. It is strictly made with either seared or raw fish and vinegar rice. The raw fish mixed with other condiments have a distinct taste that matches the saltiness and sweetness of the vinegar rice.
Most people consider sashimi as a slice of raw meat served with wasabi, but it could also be raw veggies, raw chicken, or tofu skin. It does not contain rice. Sushi is medium grain rice seasoned with vinegar, salt, and sugar.
Traditional Eating Technique
What’s the best way to eat Nigiri, sashimi, and sushi? With chopsticks or with bare hands?
The best way to enjoy these Japanese dishes is eating with your hands, but not everyone likes to use their hands to eat in a public place.
Nigiri is eaten with either hands or chopsticks. The right way to eat sushi is with your hands, but everyone has their preferences. Sashimi is eaten with chopsticks.
Anyone without a strong immune system should avoid eating raw fish or meat because of metal contamination. That aside, these Japanese fish dishes contain a high content of omega-3, which helps improve the brain and fight against inflammation, anxiety, and depression. The seaweed is high in minerals and aids in hormone functions. These dishes contain anti-inflammatory elements.
There are a wide variety of ingredients, toppings, and condiments used in making Nigiri, sashimi, and sushi. Because of these variations, the nutritional content and value also differ. The amount of fiber, calories, protein, fat, minerals, vitamins, and carbs vary.
Sushi has more carbohydrates than sashimi because of the rice content in it. Sushi is a healthy, low-calorie food that is ideal for those trying to lose weight.
Sashimi, on the other hand, is strictly made of raw red meat or fish, which means it is high in protein and low in calories and carbohydrates. Since a nigiri is a combination of both sushi and sashimi, it is high in carbs, vitamins, and protein.
The vinegared rice is loaded with carbs and calories. The fish is responsible for the majority of protein and fatty acids.
The seaweed sheet contains magnesium, iodine, and calcium. Soy sauce increases the sodium value in the dish.
Other ingredients such as mayonnaise, cream cheese, and fried tempura increase the fat content in sushi. The mercury level is dependent on the kind of fish used in preparing sushi.
How to Cut
Professional chefs select different fine cuts of fish for Nigiri, sashimi, and sushi. They take the utmost care when preparing and presenting these dishes. The different cuts have different unique tastes and flavor. They also garnish and top them with different veggies.
The fish used in preparing a nigiri and sashimi is sliced slightly differently. Nigiri is cut into thinner slices because it is eaten with rice. Sashimi is also cut into thin shreds, but it is bigger than a nigiri because it is eaten without rice.
After removing the skin and bones from the fish, the white line at the center of the fish fillet should also be removed because of its tough texture. Then the thinner side of the fish fillet will be cut into thin slices for a nigiri, and the other side of the fish will be sliced into sashimi, preferably the left side of the fish fillet.
Although the right side is always thinner than the left, you can use any side of the fillet for your nigiri sushi and sashimi. Always ensure you cut the fish fillet against the grain because the grain holds the fish together and prevent the fish from falling apart. Cutting the fish against the grain creates consistency and leaves an equal quantity of fibers in each thin slice.
Almost all sushi restaurants have these three Japanese fish dishes on the menu, and since you now cleared on the difference between a nigiri, sashimi, and sushi, you can try them at a local restaurant.
When ordering any of these Japanese fish dishes as a first-timer, it’s best to try it without extra toppings to get the real taste of the fish and determine your preference.