Sushi vs Sashimi vs Nigiri: What’s The Difference

Many of us like eating sushi, but few are aware of the amazing array of gastronomic pleasures offered in a Japanese restaurant. With names like sashimi and nigiri, the world of sushi may quickly become bewildering.

So, in this post, we’ll compare and contrast these classic Japanese fish meals. When you go back to your favorite sushi restaurant for a romantic date or a family trip in the future, you’ll be well prepared for a Japanese fish feast!

Difference Between Sushi, Sashimi & Nigiri

The major distinction between sushi, sashimi, and nigiri is the technique of preparation. Sushi is vinegared rice served with raw fish and sometimes vegetables. Sashimi is raw fish or meat served without rice in thin slices. Nigiri is a hybrid of sushi and sashimi that consists of raw fish slices on rectangular mounds of pressed vinegar rice.

What Do Their Japanese Names Mean?

Sushi literally means vinegar rice, since rice is its major ingredient. Sushi is not a particular meal; rather, it refers to a kind of Japanese delicacy made from vinegared rice.

Sashimi, on the other hand, is Japanese for perforated flesh or pierced body. It’s constructed of tiny, neatly cut strips of raw beef, but there’s no rice in it. Sashimi may consist of raw fish, pork, vegetables, or raw tofu.

Nigiri is the Japanese word for two fingers. A thinly sliced curtain of raw fish is laid over a cluster of salty and sweet vinegared rice in this little, delightful meal.

What Are Their Key Ingredients?

Sushi is created using medium-grained white rice that has been seasoned with salt, sugar, and vinegar and is served with eel, salmon, calamari, squid, or crab. There are also vegetarian sushi variations made using cucumber and avocado.

Sashimi is traditionally prepared from raw fish or beef. Salmon, tuna, steak, horse mackerel, octopus, deer, scallops, and sea urchin are among the most popular options. Thin slices of watermelon marinated in rice vinegar, soy sauce, and sesame oil make up vegan sashimi.

Nigiri is a little vinegared rice ball topped with raw squid, halibut, salmon, yellowtail, or octopus, with salmon nigiri being the best and most popular.

How Are They Prepared?

Traditional sushi is made with nori, vinegared rice, a groove in the middle for the fish and veggies, and a drizzle of wasabi sauce on top. The nori is then manually molded into a square shape by rolling it around the mixture with a makisu. After that, the sushi roll is sliced into 1.5 (3.8cm) pieces.

Sashimi is made by cutting up the fish. Sashimi is sliced in a number of ways by Japanese cooks, including hira-zukuri (rectangle chop), usu-zukuri (thin slice), kaku-zukuri (square cut), and ito-zukuri (thread slice). Sashimi is served with three different garnishes: ken, tsuma, and karami. Daikon radish is a well-known ken, while tsuma are vibrant herb piles. Karami is a pungent spice that resembles green horseradish.

Nigiri is one of the easiest meals to make. Because the only ingredients are sushi rice and fish, the first step is to prepare the rice. The fish is sliced against the grain to make portions that are more visually beautiful, simpler to eat, and less chewy. Hand-formed tiny mounds of rice are topped with a piece of fish.

What Are They Served With?

Sushi is generally served with a variety of condiments, such as soy sauce, the rich green puree known as wasabi, or a heaping spoonful of pickled ginger known as gari.

To help cleanse the palate, sashimi is generally served with a dab of wasabi sauce, soy sauce, lemon juice, and thin slices of pickled ginger. In Japanese restaurants, sashimi is typically provided in a little empty bowl so that guests may make their own sauce with their favourite dipping component ratios.

Pickled ginger leaves, a dab of wasabi sauce, and a small dish of soy sauce are common nigiri toppings. Nigiri is often served in pairs to offer variety and color. For example, two salmon nigiri and two bluefin tuna nigiri.

Which Is the Most Expensive?

Nigiri and sushi are often less expensive than sashimi. This is because sushi and nigiri include rice, which is a less expensive food source than fish. Sashimi, on the other hand, is completely constituted of fish, meat, or seafood, and it may be rather expensive depending on the variety and quality of the products used.

Sushi vs Sashimi vs Nigiri Comparison Table

Category Sushi Sashimi Nigiri
Etymology Vinegar rice Pierced meat or pierced body Two fingers
Type of dish Vinegared rice served with raw seafood and often times veggies Thin slices of raw fish or meat served without rice Raw fish slices on top of rectangular mounds of pressed vinegar rice
Key ingredients Vinegared rice with eel, salmon, calamari, squid, crab, cucumber, and avocado; Salmon, tuna, beef, horse mackerel, octopus, deer, scallop, sea urchin, and vegan sashimi made of watermelon marinated in rice vinegar, soy sauce, and sesame oil Rice ball topped with a raw piece of squid, halibut, salmon, yellowtail, or octopus
Preparation Rolled in a piece of nori using a makisu, shaped into a square form and then cut into 1.5” (3.8cm) pieces; Chop up the fish in either rectangle chops (hira-zakuri), thin slices (uzu-zakuri), square cuts (kaku-zakuri) or thread slices (ito-zakuri). It’s garnished with veggies, colorful heaps of herbs, and  strong spice   Rice is formed into small mounds by hand and topped with a piece of fish  
Serve with Soy sauce, wasabi, or pickled ginger known as gari   A dab of wasabi sauce, soy sauce, lemon juice, and thin slices of pickled ginger   Pickled ginger, a dab of wasabi sauce, and a little dish of soy sauce
Price Less expensive Most expensive Less expensive

Nutritional Content Breakdown: Which One Is Healthier?

According to the nutritional table, the healthiest choice among the three Japanese delicacies is sashimi, which has the greatest protein content and the lowest amounts of calories, carbs, and salt.

Because there are so many diverse components in each of them, determining the amount of calories, carbohydrates, fat, protein, and fiber in each is challenging and will vary from chef to chef.

Sushi and nigiri usually have greater calorie and carbohydrate counts since they include rice as well as meat, fish, or seafood. However, since sashimi solely includes meat, it is rich in protein and low in calories and carbs.

White Meat vs Dark Meat: Nutritional Profile

Category (1 piece) Salmon Sushi Salmon Sashimi Salmon Nigiri
Calories 48 41 90
Carbs 9g 0g 6.5g
Fat 0.36g 1.68g 4.1g
Saturated fat 0.081g 0.357g 0.9g
Protein 1.85g 6.13g 6.5g
Fiber 0.2g 0g 0.2g
Sugars 1.92g 0g 0.2g
Vitamins & Minerals
Calcium 6mg 10mg 10mg
Vitamin A 14mcg 9mcg 20mg
Iron 0.43mg 0.16mg 15mg
Potassium 49mg 120mg 225mg
Vitamin C 0.7mg 0.3mg 20mg
Sodium 184mg 13mg 73.5mg

To summarize, all three Japanese foods are strong in protein and contain healthy omega-3 fatty acids. Thus, nigiri, sashimi, and sushi are low-calorie, healthful dishes.

A few things, however, may make these dishes less nutrient-dense. For example, if you spread mayonnaise on top of your sushi rolls, the calorie and fat content would skyrocket.

Consider the dipping sauces as well. Soy sauce, for example, may cause salt levels to soar. Keep this in mind the next time you indulge on delectable Japanese sweets.


That concludes today’s discussion on Japanese delicacies! You may start by eating these meals at your local Japanese restaurant!

Try sushi a few times to see how you enjoy it, then branch out and get sashimi or nigiri, or even better, go for a full-on Japanese feast and have all three!

Furthermore, if you’ve never tasted one of them, don’t be afraid to inquire about the ingredients used, the flavor, or just more about the food in general!

Dipping sauces such as soy sauce, tamari, or other alternatives should be used sparingly at first so that you can taste the sushi on its own and get a full sense of the flavor of the fish.

Leave the pickled ginger till last! Pickled ginger, also known as gari, is frequently served as a palate cleanser during a banquet of many plates of sushi. Taking a mouthful of ginger in between bites enhances the range of tastes of each fish. Good luck!


Is nigiri the same as sushi?

Nigiri is a sort of sushi that utilizes rice, while nigiri does not need rice and may be composed of fish or a different type of meat. It’s also not exactly sushi, yet it’s still available at most sushi restaurants.

What is sushi vs sashimi vs maki vs nigiri?

Sashimi refers to raw fish, while sushi refers to vinegared rice. Sashimi is often served with sushi, although it may also be eaten on its own. Sushi is divided into two fundamental forms, which are presented in the form of nigiri and maki (rolls), with major distinctions in preparation and consumption.

What is the difference between sushi and sashimi?

Sashimi, unlike sushi, is not eaten with rice and is not accompanied by sauces or toppings. Sushi is made out of vinegared rice, different ingredients such as vegetables or fish, and seaweed. Sashimi is a raw beef or fish dish that is served without rice or other accompaniments.

Is tuna a sashimi or nigiri?

Nigiri is a form of sushi that consists of tiny slices of raw fish on pressed vinegared rice. Sashimi is thinly sliced raw meat, generally fish like salmon or tuna, eaten without rice.

What is maki vs nigiri vs sushi?

Sushi vs. Nigiri

Nigiri and sushi (maki) vary in that the rice in nigiri is flattened into a bite-sized mound, while maki sushi is wrapped into a tube and split into rolls. Nigiri has a single piece of fish carefully put on top, while maki rolls have fillings on the interior.

Why is sushi called nigiri?

The Japanese term nigiri (ni-giri) means “two fingers.” This is the normal amount of rice used by sushi chefs to perform the process of “nigiru,” which is to grip or seize the rice that would bed a delectable piece of fresh fish. The ultimate name “nigirizushi” is formed by combining all of the words.

What is sushi without raw fish called?

Sushi Maki-zushi Vegan Sushi

The sushi is then uniformly cut to expose the contents. Maki Kappa. With a slice of cucumber wrapped in a thin roll of rice and seaweed, kappa maki-cucumber roll-is a safe pick for vegetarians and vegan sushi lovers.

Is sashimi with rice or is that nigiri?

Nigiri is a rice and fish dish. Sashimi is composed entirely of flesh (usually fish). It does not include rice.

Is it nigiri or onigiri?

Contrary to popular belief, onigiri is not a kind of sushi and should not be confused with nigirizushi or just nigiri. Onigiri is created with plain rice (often gently salted), while sushi is produced with rice that has been treated with vinegar, sugar, and salt.

Why is it OK to eat sashimi?

Sashimi is a low-calorie, high-nutritional-value lunch. It is also high in protein, omega-3 fatty acids, and vitamins A and D. Sashimi is also abundant in antioxidants, which might help your body fight cancer and other ailments.

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