Nigiri Sushi

This is part 4 (the last challenge) of Daring Cooks’ November Challenge hosted by Audax of Audax Artifex and Rose of The Bite Me Kitchen.

Now I’m making Nigiri sushi – the type of sushi most often made in sushi bars. Nigirizushi (hand-formed sushi) is made of an oblong mound of sushi rice which is pressed between the palms of the hands, usually smeared with a bit of wasabi on top and with a topping drap over it. Typical nigiri sushi toppings are salmon, red tuna or seafood. Certain toppings are bound to the rice with a thin strip of nori like tamago (sweet egg), crab meat, etc.

Gunkanmaki(warship roll) is a special type of nigirizushi: an oval, hand-formed clump of sushi rice like nigirizushi but with a strip of “nori” wrapped around it to form a vessel that is filled with some soft, loose or fine-chopped toppings like roe, natto, oysters, sea urchin, corn with mayonnaise, and quail eggs. It is customary to make nigiri sushi in pairs, so make two of each variety.

Nigiri Sushi

Preparation time: 30 minutes, plus 1¾ hours to make the sushi rice
Serve : 14 to 16 pieces of sushi

  • 2 cups prepared sushi rice
  • 8 pairs of assorted toppings (fish, prawns, cucumber, avocado, ham, etc)
  • 1 tablespoon Wasabi or any other paste to adhere to topping
  • Thin strips of nori or vegetables (for tying topping on)
  1. Please wash your hands before handling sushi rice to avoid any risk of contamination.
  2. Moisten hands with vinegared water to prevent rice from sticking to hands.
  3. To form nigiri sushi, scoop a small amount (about 2 tbs) of rice with your index and middle finger of your right hand and place it in your cupped left palm. Place your right index and middle finger on top of rice and press lightly to form the shape.
  4. Use the fingers and thumb of your right hand to form it into a long, narrow mound (about 2« x 1» wide) in your cupped palm.
  5. Press enough to make the rice hold firmly together. Place the nigiri on a damp cutting board flat side down. Don’t put the sushi too close to each other or else they’ll stick to each other. Cover the sushi with plastic wrap if you are not using it immediately. They’ll keep at room temperature (not the refrigerator) for several hours.
  6. Smear a bit of wasabi on top of the rice and place the topping piece on it. Depending on type of topping used, you may need to press the topping down lightly with your fingers and adjust the shape of the rice accordingly to form a nigiri sushi. If you are using loose toppings like fish roe, place a strip of nori (higher than the rice) around the nigiri to form a ‘battleship’ sushi. Fill your toppings into the cavity that the nori forms.
  7. Garnish as desired and use strips of nori (or vegetable) to tie the topping to the nigiri if needed.

Nigiri Sushi

The Verdict

Now that I know the right way to make the nigiri form, making it is as easy as 1-2-3. I love making my own nigiri sushi for my family and friends.

Please be careful when spreading a bit of wasabi, be sure to use only a tiny bit. I made the mistake of thinking I have smeared only a small amount when in fact it set Pierre’s nostril spitting fire.

Nigiri Sushi


When using raw fish or raw meat, always ask your fishmonger or butcher for advice and tell them that you are going to eat it raw. If in doubt, don’t use. You can purchase flash-frozen sashimi grade fish which is guaranteed to be free of all parasites. Sashimi grade fish should have a clean cool smell, if it smells fishy it is a sign that the fish is old and cannot be used. Consumption of raw fish is not advisable for pregnant women and young children.

For the toppings, try tuna, red sea bream (red snapper), yellow tail or salmon. Use cooked shrimp or crab, other type of cooked meat can also be used. You can use any vegetable you wish like asparagus, carrot, avocado, cucumber, shiitake mushroom, tofu, thin sliced egg omelette, etc. To hold them in place, tie it with a thin (1/4» or 6mm) strip of nori wrapped around the whole sushi.

Cooked sushi rice can be placed in plastic bags and frozen for 3 months, microwave when needed.

Conserve the leftover nori (seaweed sheets) in a tightly sealed plastic bag and use it within a few months. It can also be stored in the freezer. Nori will deteriorate if left out of its sealed package. If you can’t find nori in your area, you can substitute it with thin cooked egg omelette cut to same size as a nori sheet (7 inches by 8 inches or 17.5cm x 20cm).

Here are some informative resources :