Salmon Nigiri made with sashimi-grade salmon and fluffy sushi rice! It’s so much cheaper than the restaurant, and incredibly easy to make at home. I’ll share with you the secrets to cut salmon for nigiri or sashimi and how to make salmon nigiri sushi with step by step photos.
I love Japanese seafood sushi like Spicy Salmon Roll, Tuna Nigiri or this delicious salmon nigiri. It’s great for lunch, dinner, or evening snack!
Nigiri sushi is a popular type of sushi with a slice of raw fish or another protein on top of a mound of vinegary rice. Usually a small amount of wasabi is placed between the fish and rice. It’s so easy to make at home with a few simple tips.
Salmon Nigiri Ingredients
- Salmon: Traditional salmon nigiri contains raw sashimi-grade salmon. If you’re not a brave raw fish eater, you can substitute smoked salmon or thinly sliced grilled salmon.
- Sushi Rice: Use Japanese short grain rice for the best result.
- Sushi vinegar: It’s used to season the rice and add more flavor to the dish. If you don’t have sushi vinegar, you can mix rice vinegar, sugar, and salt as a replacement.
- Wasabi: It helps bring out the flavor and can kill microbes in the fish. It also helps stick the salmon slices to the rice. It’s an optional ingredient and you can skip it if you don’t have it at home.
Tools You’ll Need
You’ll need a sharp knife to cut the fish properly and easily.
How to Make Salmon Nigiri
1. Cook Sushi Rice: Best salmon nigiri starts with high-quality sushi rice. Japanese short-grain sushi rice works the best. Once the rice is cooked, transfer it to a large bowl and let it cool down slightly. When it’s still very warm, season with sushi vinegar (or white vinegar, sugar and salt).
2. Slice the Salmon: Cut the salmon against the grain, with about 30 to 45 degree angle. You’ll need to adjust the angle from time to time to get the proper length and thickness. I recommend cutting it to 3-inch long, 1-inch wide, and 1/4-inch thick pieces.
3. Shape the Rice: Take about 3 tablespoons of rice in your right hand. Squeeze it together until it rolls into a firm oval shape. Try to make the bottom flat with a rounded top.
4. Add Wasabi to Salmon: Place the salmon slice on the root of your fingers. Then take a pea-sized portion of wasabi, and spread in the middle of the fish. This is an optional step, and you can skip it if you don’t have wasabi.
5. Assemble the Nigiri: Place the rolled sushi rice onto the salmon, and bend your fingers to cover both the fish and rice together. Press down the rice using the index finger from the other hand.
6. Arrange and Serve: Turn the fish and rice and let the salmon slice sit on top of the rice. Arrange them on a plate and serve with optional wasabi, soy sauce, along with pickled ginger.
Tips & Tricks
- Use high-quality Japanese short-grain sushi rice for this recipe. You’ll need to add less water than cooking the regular rice. I recommend a 1:1 ratio between rice and water so that your rice won’t get mushy once squeezed.
- Use sashimi-grade salmon for safety reasons. And cut it against the grain into the right thickness for nigiri. If your salmon is too thick, it won’t be shaped properly on top of the rice, but if it’s too thin, it will lose the flavor. The best thickness is about 1/4 inch.
- To prevent rice sticking to your hands, you can make Tezu, a hand dipping liquid made with water and vinegar. Wet your hands with Tezu before handling rice.
- Squeeze the rice firmly into an oval shape, but don’t squeeze too tight. It should still contain a little bit of air in the rice.
Frequently Asked Questions
What is A Nigiri?
Nigiri is a type of sushi with thin slices of fish or other proteins like cooked eggs over pressed vinegared rice.
Is Salmon Nigiri Raw?
Traditional salmon nigiri recipe calls for raw salmon, and you’ll need to buy sashimi-grade salmon. Usually you can find it at your local Japanese grocery stores. Place the fish on ice before cooking, and it’s best to eat it the same day. If you don’t like the idea of eating raw fish, substitute smoked salmon, or cooked salmon (thinly sliced).
What Kind of Salmon is Used in Nigiri?
You should shop for farmed Atlantic salmon or Alaskan salmon for nigiri. It’s important that you use farmed salmon as wild salmon has a high risk for parasites when it’s raw.
How to Slice Salmon for Nigiri Sushi?
Cut the salmon against the grain with an angle of 30 to 45 degrees. Cut it into thin slices, about 1/4-inch thick. I recommend cutting it to 3-inch long and 1-inch wide. You’ll need to adjust the angle from time to time in order to get the right size.
What’s the Difference Between Salmon Nigiri and Salmon Sashimi?
Salmon nigiri consists a slice of raw salmon served over pressed vinegar rice. Salmon sashimi is not sushi, and doesn’t have rice. It refers to just slices of raw salmon, often served over shredded daikon radish.
How Many Calories in A Salmon Nigiri?
There’s about 64 calories in one piece of salmon nigiri.
Smoked Salmon Nigiri
If you’d like to use smoked salmon for this recipe, you can simply swap smoked salmon for raw salmon, and follow the same instructions. If you like Philadelphia Roll Sushi, you’ll love smoked salmon nigiri.
More Japanese Sushi Recipes
Salmon Nigiri Sushi Recipe
For Sushi Rice
- 1 cup sushi rice (uncooked, it’s best to use Japanese short-grain sushi rice)
- 1 cup water
- 1 tablespoon sushi vinegar or mixing 1 tablespoons rice vinegar, 1/2 tablespoon sugar, and 1/2 teaspoon salt
For Salmon Nigiri
- 8 oz sashimi-grade salmon
- 2 teaspoons wasabi optional
For Serving (Optional):
- soy sauce
- pickled ginger
- Make the Sushi Rice: Wash and rinse the rice with cold water. Add the rice and water to the rice cooker. Cook according to the instruction. (You can also cook it in a regular saucepan on the stovetop)
- Once cooked, transfer the rice to a large bowl and let it cool down slightly. When it’s still very warm, stir in the sushi vinegar (or the mixture of rice vinegar, sugar, and salt).
- Cut the Salmon: Slice the salmon against the grain, with an angle of 30 to 45 degrees. I recommend cutting it to 3-inch long, 1-inch wide, and 1/4-inch thick pieces. (You’ll need to adjust the angle from time to time to get the proper length and thickness.)
- Shape the Rice: Take about 3 tablespoons of rice in your right hand. Squeeze it together until it rolls into a firm oval shape. Try to make the bottom flat with the rounded top. (You can dip your hand in tezu* water to prevent sticking.)
- Assemble Salmon Nigiri: Place the salmon slice on the root of your fingers. Then take a pea-sized portion of wasabi, and spread in the middle of the fish.
- Place the rolled sushi rice onto the salmon, and bend your fingers to cover both the fish and rice together. Press down the rice using the index finger from the other hand.
- Turn the fish and rice and let the salmon slice sit on top of the rice. Serve with optional wasabi, soy sauce, along with pickled ginger.
- *To make tezu water, simply mix together 1/4 cup water and 2 teaspoons rice vinegar.
- It’s best to eat the nigiri the same day, as the raw fish won’t taste as fresh the next day.
I wanted to make nigiri at home and followed this recipe. It came out great. We loved it!
My hubby loves nigiri but I had never attempted to make it at home – this recipe made it so easy for me to give it a shot! Came out great.
Thanks for the picture for how to slice salmon. I tried to make sushi a few weeks ago and it was terrible cause I was not able to cut properly to make sushi. I ended up mixing the salmon with rice like chirashi sushi. I am going to make this in coming weekend.
Hi there, thanks for letting me know. When you make this next time, note that you can always adjust the angle to get your preferred thickness. Hope you enjoy it!