Making sushi is an art form, and nigirizushi just may be the most artful of all, as chefs must expertly craft this dish in their own hands. Learn the make-up of Nigirizushi and explore the different types of sushi.
Make-up of Nigirizushi
Nigirizushi, sometimes simply referred to as nigiri, is sushi squeezed into shape by the hands of a sushi chef. The neta, or topping, is then placed on top. Popular neta for nigirizushi includes salmon, tuna or other forms of seafood.
The Make-up of Nigirizushi From Bottom to Top
At the base of nigirizushi is sushi rice. The highly trained nigirizushi chefs press the rice in one hand to form a small oval in their palms. Wasabi horseradish, a spicy ingredient beloved in Japan, is often added to the rice as it’s being formed.
After the bed or rice has been firmly formed, a choice piece of fish, shellfish, roe or other seafood is pressed on the top. Sometimes, small strips of seaweed, called nori, are wrapped around a piece of nigirizushi to keep the toppings from sliding off. Neta that usually needs a nori wrap includes octopus, eel, squid and egg.
Once the nigirizushi is complete, it’s usually eaten with chop sticks and dipped in soy sauce.
Types of Nigirizushi
When it was first created, four distinct shapes were used with nigirizushi, although one is most common today. The most popular modern-day nigirizushi shape is funazoko, which is formed like a ship’s hull. Traditional sushi restaurants may offer nigirizushi shaped as jigami, or a folding paper fan.
Nigiri styles rarely seen are:
• Kushi. Use with pressed rice and a flatter top, like oshizushi box sushi.
• Tawara. A straw sack is used to hold the rice. Tawara-style nigirizushi has completely disappeared thanks to the use of seaweed in sushi. Sushi was traditionally difficult to handle until seaweed was incorporated.
Nigirizushi is also seen as:
• Gunkanmaki, an oval-shaped sushi with a strip of nori around its perimeter.
• Temarizushi, which is pressed rice, fish and other ingredients formed into a ball-shaped dish.
Because of its simple shape, the temarizushi version of nigirizushi is the easiest form of sushi to make.
Due to the inclusion of raw seafood, nigirizushi exposes a few dangers of sushi, but professional chefs are highly-trained artists and take the safety of their customers into consideration.