Nigiri vs. Sashimi: What is the difference between Nigiri and Sashimi?

Nigiri vs. Sashimi: Let’s discuss their differences, similarities, pros and cons, safety, define which is better, and answer some frequently asked questions (FAQ)
Nigiri vs. Sashimi: Differences, Pros & Cons, Safety

Nigiri vs. Sashimi: In Japanese cuisine, you will find a wide range of sushi, and nigiri holds a special place among them. While talking about nigiri sushi vs. sashimi, the latter cannot be technically called sushi as it doesn’t contain rice. That is what makes these traditional Japanese delicacies different from each other.

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Defining nigiri and sashimi for better understanding

What is Nigiri?

Nigiri is a type of sushi made with vinegar rice and thinly sliced fish. 

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What is Sashimi?

Sashimi is a raw dish made with thinly chopped fish/meat and is traditionally served with soy sauce.

Considering the Pros and Cons of sashimi and nigiri

Pros of Nigiri 

  • It is a part of the tasteful sushi world. 
  • It is a source of omega-3 fatty acids. 
  • It contains the added flavor of rice.

Cons of Nigri 

  • The thin pieces of fish might not contain enough protein. 
  • Nigiri must not be consumed by a pregnant woman, a kid, or a woman who is breastfeeding because it is mostly prepared from fishes carrying high mercury content that may affect the growth of the child. 

Pros of Sashimi 

  • It is fresh and healthy. 
  • It is full of protein.  
  • It does not carry any spices and oils. 

Cons of Sashimi 

  • Raw meat may contain bacteria. 
  • It may infect and cause worms. 
  • If it is made with high mercury fishes, it may harm your body.  

Bringing out the similarities between Sashimi and Nigiri: 

  • Both are traditional Japanese dishes prepared with raw fishes. 
  • Both the dishes are made of thinly sliced fishes.
  • The main fishes opted for making sashimi and nigiri are mostly tuna, yellowtail, and salmon.
  • Wasabi, soy sauce, and pickled ginger are the ingredients used in serving both. 
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Analyzing factors that demonstrate nigiri vs. sashimi as different food 

Basic difference  Nigiri is a type of sushi made with thin slices of raw fish and vinegar rice. Sashimi is a Japanese raw dish with thin slices of meat, either fish or other. 
Preparation  Nigiri is mostly raw but can be served with seared fish and cooked rice. Sashimi is completely raw in its preparation. 
Sushi Type It is sushi. It is not sushi. 
Ingredients  Nigiri can be made up of different ingredients, but sushi rice and fish are mandatory.  Sashimi doesn’t contain rice. 
Fish/Meat It is always fish. Slices of other meat can also be used to prepare sashimi. 
Preparing Method Nigiri is always made with two-fingers for its special shape. It doesn’t require any special skill in shaping but requires an art in serving.  
Garnishing It doesn’t require garnishing. Occasionally it may be served with a sauce. It is always garnished with shiso leaves, seaweed, daikon radish, and sauces.  
Eating Method Nigiri can be eaten either by hand or chopsticks.  Sashimi is always eaten with chopsticks. 
Calories Rice in nigiri can make it fatty food. Containing no rice makes it low-calorie food. 

Can you compare nigiri vs. sushi?

Yes, the comparison between nigiri vs. sushi is possible. Nigiri is sushi, but not every sushi is a nigiri. Sushi is anything made with vinegared rice. 

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Understanding nigiri vs. sashimi vs. maki, maki is a roll wrapped by seaweed, nigiri is sushi with fish, and sashimi is a dish of raw fish/meat without any rice.  

What is the difference between nigiri and sashimi?

The main difference between the two is that nigiri is a type of sushi served with cooked rice, and sashimi is served purely raw with no rice. 

What are nigiri and maki?

The traditional fish dishes, Nigiri, and maki are two different types of sushi. 

Nigiri is the combined version of sushi and sashimi containing raw fish pieces served with vinegar sushi rice. 

Maki is the regular sushi roll that contains sushi rice and fish/seafood wrapped in seaweed.  

Is Nigiri cooked?

Nigiri is not traditionally cooked, but it can be served with seared or cooked fish. 

What is the difference between sushi and sashimi?

The sushi vs. sashimi difference is that sushi is something prepared with vinegared rice. While sashimi is thin-sliced raw fish or meat and always served without rice. The same applies to sushi vs. sashimi vs. nigiri. 

Is sashimi healthier than sushi? 

Sushi has rice, spices, mayo, and other fried ingredients that are high in calories. Sashimi being fresh and raw can, therefore, be considered healthier than sushi. 

Can sushi give you worms?

Most of the time, sushi is a healthy dish. In some cases, it is found that a person can become infected with worms like parasites such as tapeworms, cod worms, and seal worms, depending on the quality of ingredients used for its preparation.

Why is sushi bad for you?

The dark sides of sushi include less protein and high calories. Sushi is mostly served with high-fat sauces and fried tempura batter. The salt content of the dish is also very high.

Additionally, raw fishes may contain bacteria and parasites that can cause infections. 

How is sashimi safe?

Sashimi is safe only when it is served fresh and contains zero bacteria. Because it is fresh and hasn’t been assisted with spices and other fatty foods, it contains proteins. 

Is it safe to eat raw sashimi?

Sashimi is always raw. Raw fish can cause worms and infections if it is not prepared well. You must visit a reputed restaurant to experience safe and authentic sashimi. 

Can you lose weight eating sushi? 

Sushi carries high calorie and low protein content. You can lose weight eating sushi if you consider these points while ordering sushi: 

  • Choose the sushi made with brown rice rather than white rice. It will increase your nutrient intake. 
  • Avoid soy sauce, mayo, cream cheese, tempura, or other sauces. 
  • Ask for extra veggies.   

Comparison Chart

Nigiri vs. Sashimi: Let’s discuss their differences, similarities, pros and cons, safety, define which is better, and answer some frequently asked questions (FAQ)

Comparison Video

Sashimi vs Nigiri

Choosing between Sashimi and Nigiri

After comparing all the key factors of nigiri vs. sashimi, it is clear that sashimi cannot be categorized in the list of sushi and is a completely different dish. Choose nigiri if you want rice on your palate and Sashimi if you don’t want those extra calories contained by rice.

Alex Stantor
Alex Stantor

Alex Stantor is a Sorbonne University (Paris, France) graduate in Philosophy and Data Analysis. Currently, he is an Author and Researcher at Difference 101, he writes articles/blog posts on topics such as "thinking differently" and "the importance of difference". Alex is a passionate advocate of diversity in the workplace and in companies, and diversity and inclusion in corporate communications. He currently lives in Brooklyn.

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