Nigiri at Home

Can you make your own nigiri?

Yes, although it takes time to learn and master the techniques, but practice really does makes perfect. Homemade nigiri will definitely make you look like a pro, but it can actually be easier to make than you (or your guests) might think.

Nigiri is perfect for no-frills sushi lovers. You don’t have to go to Japanese restaurants for the delicious Nigiri as it’s so easy to make at home and there are no extra ingredients like avocado or cucumber. With nigiri, you get to savor all the delicious flavors of fresh fish, complemented by a mouthful of tasty sushi rice.

Related: How to Make Great Sushi


Is it hard to make nigiri?

Making nigiri is fairly straightforward and less complicated than you might think. The key is to use good quality Japanese sushi rice and high-quality fish that are fresh. Try looking for local fish markets as they often have the best offerings.


How do you make nigiri by hand?

Making nigiri at home is a lot easier than you may think. Once you’ve mastered the technique, you’ll be able to recreate a masterful nigiri.


Step 1: Cooking the Rice

Use authentic short-grain sushi rice for the best result. It’s best to use 1 cup of water for each cup of rice and cook until it’s fluffy. Transfer the cooked rice to a bowl and allow it to cool a bit.


Step 2: Season the Rice

Season the rice with sushi vinegar. This helps to give the rice its delicious umami flavor. If you don’t have sushi vinegar, season with white vinegar, salt, and sugar.


Step 3: Prepare the Toppings

If you’re making Tamago nigiri, go ahead and prepare your eggs. If you will be using fish such as salmon, tuna, or yellowtail, use a very sharp knife to slice your fish. Cut the fish into pieces that are about 3 inches long, 1 inch wide, and 1/4 inch in thickness.


Step 4: Shape the Rice

Scoop out about 3 tablespoons of rice and place it in your hand. Squeeze the rice until it forms an oval shape. Use your hand to flatten the bottom.


Step 5: Assemble Nigiri

Assemble your nigiri by placing your topping flat against your palm. Press the rolled sushi rice onto the topping. Flip over the roll so that the topping is on top.


Step 6: Add Nori Seaweed (or not)

Depending on your preference, nigiri sushi can be made with or without nori seaweed. You may wrap a thin strip of nori around each piece of nigiri. This gives your sushi a more traditional look and the nori helps keep the topping and rice together.


What makes a good nigiri?

Now that you know how to make nigiri at home, it’s time to talk about what constitutes an excellent nigiri in the first place. A Nigiri is an enthralling and intricate art form. There is a complete science behind how we masterfully manufacture them. By using our eyes, hands, and taste buds, we can create unique flavors of nigiri that can’t be recreated elsewhere. Be sure to continue on as we go into detail on the numerous parts of a good nigiri.

Related: Nigiri vs Sushi



Rice vinegar and salt are used to season all sushi rice. Because traditional Edomae sushi only has only two components, the quality of the vinegar used is critical. A glass of fine vinegar and a glass of cheap vinegar is as distinguishable as a glass of great wine and a glass of cheap wine. Modern sushi frequently includes a modest amount of sugar to add sweetness to the rice.

The softness and chew of the sushi are also affected by how the rice is cooked. Each rice particle should be identifiable from the others. Overcooked rice may become mushy and fuse together, like mashed potatoes rather than perfect sushi rice. In addition, the rice should be delicately molded so that the granules barely cling together. The majority of people are amazed at how loosely packed the rice is and how much of a difference it makes in the quality of the sushi.

Too much rice packed together can have you eating and chewing. The flavor of the fish fades into the background. However, rice that is loose and mushy will merge with the texture of the fish, allowing everything to come together flawlessly. This is why sushi chefs wash their rice ten or more times before cooking. Every quantity of powder and starch that keeps the rice from adhering together can cause the grains to crumble. The rice must be sticky so it can be formed as loosely as possible.



The fish (or non-fish toppings) should not be so thin that they blend in with the rice. It also shouldn’t be so thick that it makes you feel like you’re eating sashimi. Before shaping it onto the rice, the chef must slice a meaty but modest piece. It also cannot simply be placed on top. To form one delectable unit, it must be carefully squeezed together. A skillful chef should form the fish on the rice with their hands, resulting in a smooth, curved nigiri.

The flesh is frequently scored on the bottom by making several small parallel and cross-hatch incisions with the knife, which makes the sushi considerably softer and easier to chew. It is required for highly chewy neta, such as squid. The more cuts of softer fish there are, the more the sushi will melt in your mouth with less chewing. Of course, the taste of the fish is important as well. Some sushi should be very fresh and clean, while others should have a deep and rich umami flavor from age.

Large fish such as tuna (maguro) and flounder are generally aged, little fish such as sea bream are fresh, and shellfish such as scallops are always served as fresh as possible. Many fish are cured in a salt-and-sugar solution to remove moisture and concentrate flavor. The next time you eat sushi, notice the differences in flavor between the various fish.


Soy Sauce

Soy sauce, which provides a salty umami flavor, is an essential sushi condiment. Soy sauce should always be used sparingly on nigiri sushi to allow the flavors of the fish and vinegar rice to shine through.

Wasabi should never be mixed with soy sauce; it should come directly from the cooked sushi. When eating sushi or sashimi with wasabi on the side, simply take a small amount with your chopsticks as you consume the piece.

The soy sauce should never come into contact with the rice. Because a skillful sushi chef packs the rice loosely, any soy sauce will cause it to come apart. Rather, only a small portion of the fish should be dipped. In high-end sushi restaurants, the chef will brush the top of the sushi with nerikiri, a thickened soy sauce. In this situation, you should eat the nigiri without first dipping it in any sauce.



Wasabi is not a condiment when it comes to sushi. It is as important to the nigiri as the fish, adding a bright gently peppery flavor. Sushi tastes bland without it. Because of its inexpensive cost, powdered and rehydrated wasabi manufactured from Western horseradish is widely available, yet nothing rivals the flavor of fresh ground wasabi root.



Another common error made by inexperienced sushi cooks is making nigiri that is excessively large. Nigiri sushi was first constructed large enough to be numerous bites as a stand-alone dinner over a century ago in the early days of Edo. Those days have long passed. Modern sushi is designed to be eaten in one bite only.

The ultimate size is frequently determined by the size of the chef’s hands, which creates a distinguishing feature of their own style. Some chefs prefer to make longer, thinner nigiri, while others prefer shorter, wider pieces. However, the end result must always be a piece that the diner swallows whole. This simplifies the customer’s experience of eating sushi.