What Is Nigiri Sushi?

July 10, 2018

Nigiri (short for nigirizushi) is a popular type of Japanese cuisine that’s commonly found in sushi restaurants worldwide. Unlike other sushi like maki, nigiri is not rolled up in seaweed. Instead, each portion of nigiri consists of a thinly sliced piece of fresh raw fish laid over a formed ball of sushi rice. Fun fact: Sushi is a Japanese term that refers to any food made with vinegared rice.

Raw fish can be intimidating, but nigiri is very palatable and offers a unique taste. This is why it’s suggested that first-time sushi diners start with nigiri. Let’s take a closer look at nigiri sushi in Phoenix, AZ!

A brief overview

In Japanese, nigiri means “two fingers” (ni=two, giri=fingers). It gets its name from the fact that the rice has to be separated into a specific portion and fit comfortably on the sushi chef’s “two fingers” when pressing. This type of sushi originated in Edo (present-day Tokyo). You maybe interested to know that nigiri sushi is also known as Edo-Mae in Japan.

Nigiri is different from other types of sushi in that pieces consist of a slice of fresh raw fish or seared fish laid over pressed vinegared rice, but nigiri is not to be confused with sashimi. Sashimi, although not technically sushi, is slices of extremely fresh fish or meat served raw either over a bed of shredded daikon radish or just as is.

Typical ingredients

Nigiri is always fish and other seafood like shrimp, squid and octopus—never meat. It is made with a specially made sushi rice combined with vinegar, called vinegared rice. Vinegared rice is balled and pressed by hand to form the base of the nigiri, then a slice of raw fish is placed on top of the formed rice base with or without a dab of wasabi. Orders of nigiri are accompanied with wasabi, pickled ginger and soy sauce on the side.

Common types of fish for nigiri

Sushi lovers around the world can enjoy their orders of nigiri with a variety of fish. The most popular type of fish toppings for nigiri are tuna (Maguro), salmon (Sake), halibut (Hirame), yellowtail (Hamachi), fresh water eel (Unagi), cooked shrimp (Ebi) and egg omelet (Tamago). Because they are typically easier on the palate, these fish toppings are recommended for those new to eating sushi. Once you know you like nigiri, try some other fish toppings—like octopus (Tako), crab (Kani), squid (Ika), abalone (Awagi) and salmon roe (Ikura)—which have strong flavors that take some getting used to.

Ordering nigiri for the first time

If you’re a sushi beginner and want to try nigiri, but have no idea what to get, don’t be shy about asking the restaurant staff and chefs for recommendations!

Here at PURE Sushi Colony, we make the best nigiri sushi in Phoenix, AZ. You’re invited to sit down to a selection of nigiri topped with your choice of the most delicious fresh raw fish, including tuna, salmon, albacore, yellowtail, fresh water eel and so much more!

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PURE Sushi Colony