Navigating the Differences Between Sashimi vs. Nigiri

Feb 23, 2023 | 0 comments

Sashimi vs. Nigiri are two of the most well-known kinds of Japanese food, so the two terms are sometimes used interchangeably when discussing sushi. Yet the truth is that nigiri sushi and sashimi are not the same things (and one may not even be sushi at all), and it’s important to understand what makes each one so special. Today you will discover the key distinctions between Sashimi vs. Nigiri. You will also find Maki Sushi and the differences between Nigiri and Maki sushi.

What Exactly Is Nigiri?

What Exactly Is Nigiri?

Nigiri is one of the most authentic and traditional forms of Japanese sushi. Nigiri is a little rice ball (or rice mound) with vinegared rice (also known as sushi rice or sticky rice) on top. Nigiri sushi has it all: sweet, salty, and excellent taste.

It’s mainly raw fish (salmon, tuna, mackerel, etc.), but you can also get shrimp nigiri (cooked shrimp) and eel nigiri (the eel is usually grilled).

The sushi chef may add sweet soy sauce or wasabi between the fish and rice in the nigiri bite. Nigiri is a popular sushi style.

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What Exactly Is Sashimi?

This may come as a surprise (it did for me), but sashimi is not considered sushi. Sushi’s only non-negotiable component is rice (not fish), while sashimi has no rice.

Sashimi comprises thin slices of raw meat served without rice, commonly strips of raw fish (salmon, tuna, shrimp, or octopus), although it may also be other meats.

Some individuals dip their sashimi in soy sauce or top it with their favorite fish topping. It can also be accompanied by pickled ginger, wasabi, daikon radish, or avocado. The better the quality and degree of precision in creating sashimi, the higher the price.

What Exactly Is Maki?

What Exactly Is Maki?

We see a black roll filled with sushi rice and other ingredients when we think of sushi. This black roll is known as Maki or makizushi, arguably the most popular type of sushi on our side of the globe.

In a nutshell, Maki is a roll in which the components (rice, raw or cooked fish, and other seafood such as shrimp, veggies, and cream cheese) are wrapped in a sheet of “nori,” or dried seaweed.

The main distinction between Nigiri and Maki is that Nigiri includes seaweed inside the sushi rolls, whereas Maki includes seaweed outside the sushi rolls.

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What Is the Difference Between Nigiri and Sashimi?

What Is the Difference Between Nigiri and Sashimi?

Let’s look at the distinctions between Sashimi vs. Nigiri and Nigiri Maki.


  • Nigiri is a rice and fish dish.
  • Sashimi is entirely composed of flesh (either fish or another). It does not include rice.
  • Maki is a Japanese dish comprised of rice, nori, and other ingredients (vegetables, fish, other meats, and diverse ingredients)


  • Nigiri is served as a “ball” or “rice mound” with two halves: rice and fish. Traditionally, there is no fish topping.
  • Sashimi is raw fish or meat served in thin slices or strips (no rice)
  • Maki is available as a long roll or tube sliced into pieces.


  • In Japan, nigiri sushi is the most traditional and widely consumed.
  • Outside of Japan, the most well-known form of sushi is Maki.
  • Although not strictly sushi, sashimi is offered in sushi restaurants.


  • Nigiri sushi is best eaten with your hands.
  • To consume sashimi, use chopsticks.
  • To eat Maki, use chopsticks or your bare hands (it’s usually better to use your hands).

Is it better to eat it cooked or raw?

Nigiri is often served raw. However, it may also be prepared with cooked or grilled fish. It all depends on the chef and the meal. Sashimi is always served raw.

Can it include meat?

Nigiri is always made of fish or seafood, like shrimp, octopus, squid, tuna, and salmon. But, it is never flesh. Indeed, Sashimi can be tiny slices of meat, such as beef, chicken, horse, and even frog, as well as fish and other types of seafood.

How do you consume it?

Nigiri can be eaten as you choose; most people use their hands or chopsticks, although using a fork is not frowned upon. Sashimi is usually eaten with chopsticks and should be consumed in this manner exclusively.

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Should you garnish or not?

Nigiri is generally served without garnish. It is up to the cook whether or not a sauce accompanies it. But, as is customary with many sushis, it is frequently served with pickled ginger, wasabi, and soy sauce. Sashimi is commonly served with a garnish, such as a daikon radish, shiso leaves, seaweed, and soy sauce, among other things. The chef determines the diversity and how he or she wishes to display their food.

Sashimi vs Nigiri: Last Words

Sashimi vs. Nigiri is both classic Japanese dishes. It is, nonetheless, critical to recognize the contrast between the two. Nigiri is a sushi that utilizes rice, whereas Nigiri does not need rice and can be composed of fish or a different type of meat. It’s also not precisely sushi, yet it’s still available at most sushi restaurants.

So, who will win the battle between Nigiri and sashimi? Of course, whoever gets to eat! Both are tasty and excellent examples of traditional Japanese food.

Nonetheless, if you’ve never tried Japanese sushi, we recommend Nigiri. It’s more accessible and similar to typical sushi rolls you’ve probably tasted. If you found this article informative, you may also want to read our blog on eating undercooked salmon. You’ll find it highly informative. 

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