Recipe Nigiri Sushi

Nigiri sushi, a quintessential component of Japanese cuisine, is beloved for its simplicity and delicate balance of flavors. "Nigiri" translates to "grip" or "squeeze," referring to the technique used to form the sushi. This dish typically consists of a small, hand-pressed portion of sushi rice topped with a slice of fresh fish or other seafood. The harmony between the slightly vinegared rice and the umami-rich seafood creates a delectable bite that is both satisfying and refreshing. In this article, we will explore the steps to create nigiri sushi at home, the ingredients needed, preparation tips, variations, and nutritional information.


For Sushi Rice

  • 2 cups sushi rice
  • 2 cups water
  • 1/4 cup rice vinegar
  • 2 tablespoons sugar
  • 1 teaspoon salt

For Nigiri Toppings

  • Fresh fish (tuna, salmon, yellowtail, etc.)
  • Cooked shrimp
  • Unagi (grilled eel)
  • Tamago (Japanese omelet)
  • Avocado slices (for vegetarian options)

Additional Ingredients

  • Wasabi
  • Soy sauce
  • Pickled ginger (gari)

Preparation and Serving Instructions

Preparing the Sushi Rice

  1. Rinse the Rice: Place the sushi rice in a colander and rinse under cold water until the water runs clear. This removes excess starch and ensures the rice is fluffy.
  2. Cook the Rice: Combine the rinsed rice and water in a rice cooker. Cook according to the manufacturer's instructions. If you don't have a rice cooker, use a pot and follow the package instructions for cooking rice.
  3. Season the Rice: While the rice is cooking, mix the rice vinegar, sugar, and salt in a small saucepan over low heat until the sugar and salt dissolve. Do not boil.
  4. Mix the Rice: Once the rice is cooked, transfer it to a large bowl. Gently fold the vinegar mixture into the rice with a wooden spatula, being careful not to mash the grains. Allow the rice to cool to room temperature.

Preparing the Toppings

  1. Slice the Fish: Using a sharp knife, slice the fish into thin, rectangular pieces, about 2 inches long and 1 inch wide. The slices should be slightly thicker than sashimi.
  2. Prepare Other Toppings: For shrimp, boil and peel, then slice in half lengthwise. For unagi, slice into similar-sized pieces. Prepare tamago and avocado as desired.

Forming the Nigiri

  1. Shape the Rice: Wet your hands with a mixture of water and a little rice vinegar to prevent sticking. Take a small amount of sushi rice (about the size of a small walnut) and gently squeeze it in your palm to form an oblong shape.
  2. Add Wasabi: Lightly dab a small amount of wasabi on one side of the fish slice.
  3. Combine Rice and Fish: Place the fish slice on top of the rice, wasabi-side down. Gently press the fish and rice together with your fingers to form a compact piece of nigiri.
  4. Repeat: Continue forming nigiri with the remaining rice and toppings.


  • Presentation: Arrange the nigiri on a serving platter. Serve with soy sauce, pickled ginger, and additional wasabi on the side.
  • Enjoying: Nigiri sushi is typically eaten in one bite. Dip the fish side (not the rice side) lightly into the soy sauce and enjoy.


  • Freshness is Key: Use the freshest fish possible for the best flavor and texture. Visit a reputable fish market or grocery store that sells sushi-grade fish.
  • Proper Knife Technique: A sharp knife is essential for clean cuts. Use a long, smooth slicing motion to cut the fish without tearing.
  • Don't Overhandle the Rice: Handle the sushi rice as little as possible to maintain its texture. Wet your hands frequently to prevent sticking.
  • Experiment with Toppings: While traditional nigiri uses fish and seafood, you can experiment with various toppings such as seared beef, tofu, or even fruits like mango for a unique twist.


  • Aburi Nigiri: Lightly sear the fish with a kitchen torch before placing it on the rice for a different flavor and texture.
  • Vegetarian Nigiri: Use avocado, cucumber, roasted bell peppers, or tofu as toppings for a vegetarian option.
  • Spicy Nigiri: Add a touch of sriracha or a spicy mayo mixture on top of the fish for a spicy kick.
  • Tamago Nigiri: Top the rice with a slice of sweet, fluffy tamago (Japanese omelet) for a savory-sweet option.

Calorie Information

The calorie content of nigiri sushi can vary based on the type and amount of fish used. On average:

  • Tuna Nigiri (1 piece): Approximately 40-50 calories
  • Salmon Nigiri (1 piece): Approximately 48-60 calories
  • Shrimp Nigiri (1 piece): Approximately 40-50 calories
  • Unagi Nigiri (1 piece): Approximately 60-70 calories
  • Tamago Nigiri (1 piece): Approximately 70-80 calories

These values are estimates and can vary depending on the size and specific ingredients used.


Nigiri sushi is a delightful and elegant dish that captures the essence of Japanese culinary artistry. With its simplicity and focus on fresh, high-quality ingredients, nigiri sushi is both a pleasure to make and to eat. Whether you're a sushi enthusiast or a beginner, this recipe provides a comprehensive guide to creating delicious nigiri sushi at home. Enjoy experimenting with different toppings and flavors to create your perfect bite.


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