Understanding the Difference Between Sushi vs Sashimi vs Nigiri vs Maki

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Understanding the Difference Between Sushi vs Sashimi vs Nigiri vs Maki

Unless you live in Japan or eat Japanese food everyday, looking at a sushi menu can be a bit confusing. When ordering in authentic Japanese restaurants like Nama Sushi, you’ll see many variations of sushi, along with other kinds of Japanese dishes like sashimi.

In simple terms, here are the main differences:

  • A sushi is made with fish or other seafood prepared with vinegared rice.
  • A sashimi is also made with fish or other seafood but does not have vinegared rice.
  • A maki is rolled sushi cut into bite sized pieces.
  • A nigiri is combination of sushi and sashimi.

What is Sushi?

Sushi is made from vinegared rice and seafood, usually fish. But it may also use ingredients like cucumber and avocado, instead of fish. There are 2 kinds of sushi: maki and nigiri. Maki is a bite-sized sushi roll made with layers of veggies (sometimes fruit), fish and rice then wrapped in seaweed. Nigiri, on the other hand, is a dish of raw fish slices served over oblong-shaped pressed vinegared rice.

In order to be classified as sushi, it has to have vinegared rice, which is comprised of medium grain white rice and has a unique flavor.

What is Sashimi?

Sashimi is made of very thin sliced strips of raw fish or other seafood meat. It’s usually accompanied with soy sauce, wasabi and grated fresh ginger to help bring out the flavor of the fish. While sushi may also be made from raw fish, sashimi fish is usually more expensive. Sushi also comes with a variety of ingredients like seaweed and veggies.

Sushi and Sashimi Nutritional Differences

Generally speaking, sushi has higher calories than sashimi. A full roll of sushi may contain anywhere from 135 calories to 500 calories. Sashimi on the other hand usually has 25 – 65 calories per ounce.

Sushi also has more fats, fiber and carbs than sashimi, which has more protein and omega-3 fatty acids than the former.

Both sushi and sashimi are considered healthy dishes compared to most.

What is Nigiri?

Nigiri comes from the Japanese word Nigirizushi, which translates to “hand-pressed sushi.”  It consists of sliced raw fish that has been pressed over salty and sweet vinegared rice. The chef may place a tiny amount of wasabi in between the rice and fish, or a strip of seaweed to keep it together. It is then rolled and chilled so that the fish taste will blend into the flavor of the rice.

Like sashimi, nigiri is made from raw seafood but unlike the former, it is served over vinegared rice that has been shaped by hand. Moreover, you can eat nigiri using your fingers, while the sashimi will require the use of chopsticks.

What is Maki?

Maki is another type of sushi that is made into a roll and sliced into small bite-size pieces. It has smaller portions than the nigiri. It may contain cooked or raw seafood, as well as veggies. It also has more calories than the nigiri due to the use of other ingredients like mayo.

Learn about how the California maki was invented here:

Understanding the Difference Between Sushi vs Sashimi vs Nigiri vs Maki
Restaurant Staff

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