Nigiri guide

If you love Japanese food and have never tried nigiri sushi you’re missing out on one of the most delicious and simple types of Japanese cuisine. But with this beginner’s guide to nigiri sushi, you can learn what it is, how to eat it and how it fits in with Japanese cuisine.

What is nigiri?

Nigiri is a type of sushi that consists of a slice of raw fish placed on top of an oval of vinegared rice. It is one of the most popular types of sushi in Japan and can be found at most sushi restaurants. It is typically made with tuna, salmon, or other types of seafood, but can also be made with vegetables or tofu.

The most popular nigiri is the tuna nigiri. It is made with a slice of raw tuna on top of sushi rice. Salmon, yellowtail, and eel are also popular choices for nigiri. 

What does nigiri mean in Japanese?

The word nigiri comes from the verb nigiru, which means to squeeze or to grasp. This refers to the traditional way of making nigiri sushi, which is to shape the rice into a small oval ball and then top it with fish or other ingredients using your hands. This is also why you can also hear nigiri sushi be called 'hand-pressed' sushi.

How to properly eat nigiri

Nigiri sushi is traditionally eaten with your hands, not chopsticks, as many people believe that this is the best way to enjoy the flavour and texture of the sushi. If you are new to eating nigiri, here is a step by step guide;

  1. Start by picking up the nigiri with your hands and turning it over so the rice is facing upwards.
  2. Then dip it into the soy sauce with the fish or topping touching the surface, making sure to avoid any contact with the rice. This is because the rice will absorb too much soy sauce and make the nigiri too salty.
  3. Once you've dipped your nigiri, eat it in one bite!

Common nigiri toppings

Toppings are less common with nigiri, as with other sushi. If there are any included, wasabi and ginger are common, but not required. Wasabi is a paste made from horseradish that is quite spicy, so use it sparingly at first. Ginger is a root that is commonly served pickled and has a slightly sweet taste. It's a refreshing way to cleanse your palate in between bites of sushi.

What kind of nigiri is best?

When it comes to nigiri, there are a few things you should keep in mind. The first is that there are different types of nigiri, each with its own unique flavour and preparation. The second is that the quality of the fish is important - be sure to get sushi-grade fish from a reputable source. Finally, don't be afraid to experiment! There are many different ways to enjoy nigiri, so find what works best for you.


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