How to make salmon nigiri

How to make salmon nigiri

Word from the author:

Why would you make smoked salmon nigiri?

“My friend says ‘real sushi’ has to be made from raw fish. Is that so”? – Quick answer, not by a long shot. Many traditional sushi dishes may contain no raw fish at all, in some the main ingredient could be cucumber, kampio or an omelette. With that said, smoked salmon would probably not be a traditional sushi chef choice.

There are many reasons why you may choose to make your nigiri sushi with smoked salmon instead of raw. Smoked salmon is significantly cheaper, easier to come across (you can probably find it in your neighborhood super-market). It is easier to store before use (in terms of expiration) and easier to prepare (as usually comes pretty processed). In short, it is a cheaper and easier way to make salmon nigiri.

What is required?

  • Sushi rice
  • Smoked salmon
  • A nori sheet
  • Wasabi paste
  • Ikura (salmon roe)

How to make salmon nigiri

Choosing right

This might seem insignificant at first, but the best looking (and if you ask me, best tasting) smoked salmon you can pick up at the store is that with nice thick white fat lines. You might not have the choice, but if you do – get the fat lined salmon. It might cost a bit more, but should be worth the difference.

Form the rice

Begin by taking a bit of rice you have prepared in advance, and using both index fingers and thumbs form it into finger like shape as shown below.

Exactly how much rice to use is really up to you. Ideally, you should be able to consume the whole nigiri in one bite – keep it mind when choosing your quantities.

How to make salmon nigiri

Put it together

It’s go time! Using a sharp knife, cut a piece of the smoked salmon, large enough to cover the top of the rice finger you formed a minute ago. Pay attention to the fat lines direction.Your nigiri will looks best if the lines are diagonal to the rice.

If you like wasabi in your sushi, this would be a great time to smear a tiny bit of wasabi on the back of the smoked salmon just before placing it on top of the rice.

Now, place salmon on top of the rice. Use two fingers to support the rice base while your other hand’s thumb and finger index stretch the salmon on to the rice so it is tightly placed on it.

How to make salmon nigiri

Let’s recap

You will need to form the rice into a finger shape, cut out a large enough to cover its top and lastly stretch the salmon on top of the rice.

In terms of the order, if you are making nigiri for the first time you might want to do all steps in this order so that you don’t make cut all the salmon the wrong shape and size.

How to make salmon nigiri


If you paid attention to the list of ingredients you noticed nori was an optional. You would sometimes use a thin strip of nori to strap the nori strip around the topping so that it doesn’t fall off the nigiri. This is mainly useful if you used plenty and/or varied topping – or if for any other reason the topping doesn’t hold well.

How to make salmon nigiri

You can get creative with topping your nigiri. In the example below, you can see rocket leaf strapped to the smoked salmon nigiri, topped with a bit of salmon roe.

Salmon nigiri is a type of sushi made by layering raw salmon on a small roll of rice. It is delicious, and one of the easiest types of sushi to make. Unlike other types of sushi, it does not need a seaweed wrap. Here’s how to make salmon nigiri, just follow the steps listed below.

Step 1

Ingredients and supplies:

  • Sushi rice
  • 1 salmon filet, fresh
  • Wasabi
  • Pot with lid
  • Cup of water
  • Knife

Step 2

Cut the salmon. Slice the salmon filet diagonally into 2 inch long pieces about a quarter inch thick. The thinner you slice the salmon, the thinner the pieces on the nigiri will be.

Step 3

Cook the sushi rice. Cook the sushi rice according to the instructions on the package. Do not use regular rice, because it is not sticky enough to hold together for making sushi. If you use regular rice, the sushi you make will fall apart. Sushi rice is sticky enough to hold together when you form the nigiri.

Step 4

Form the rice balls. First dip your fingers into water. This will keep the rice from sticking to them. Then scoop up a small amount of rice, about 3/4 the size of your palm. Then roll and squeeze it together until it forms a firm “log”. The bottom should be flat, while the tops and sides can be rounded. Each rice ball should be large enough to fit one slice of the salmon filet on top.

Step 5

Add Wasabi. First, place a small dab of wasabi on one side of the fish slice. Remember that wasabi is hot, so do not use too much of it. Still, you do need enough to make the fish stick to the rice, because the wasabi acts like glue. A pea-sized portion of wasabi should suffice.

Step 6

Assemble the nigiri. Now, place the fish on the rice log, with the wasabi side facing the rice. Press the fish downwards over the rice, so that both the fish and the rice become rounded. Hold the rice in one hand while pressing down on the salmon with your other hand, or the rice will become misshaped.

Step 7

Serve. Nigiri is always served in pairs to symbolize peace and harmony. It is often served with other types of sushi, but it can be served as an appetizer or side dish with a non-sushi main course. Serve with Wasabi and possibly soy sauce on the side.

This sushi favorite is easy to make, and does not include a lot of fancy ingredients. All you need is rice, salmon, and a little Wasabi. If your children like sushi, you can even involve them in the preparation of their own salmon nigiri, yet it is also fancy and exotic enough for a dinner party.

How to make salmon nigiri

So the first thing I will say is, this post is all about having fun. This isn’t about making traditional world class Sushi Nigiri as I am not a sushi expert. In fact, I am actually quite an amateur, however, if you have ever wondered how to make any kind of sushi, I believe this is a great place to start.

How to make salmon nigiri

I absolutely love sushi, in fact, I would probably list it as one of my top 5 favorite foods. I always grew up eating the $3 – $5 sushi, which don’t get me wrong, I still love it and I buy it for lunch all the time. However I eventually started asking myself, what distinguishes this cheap sushi from “proper” sushi? Well, this question eventually led me to an amazing sushi restaurant bar one day called ‘Aisuru Sushi’, and it is still to this day the best sushi I ever had by a mile.

This is what I ordered at the restaurant, it was sushi with deep fried prawns, caviar, spicy mayo and bits of fried tempura on top.

And this is what my girlfriend at the time ordered, sushi with seared salmon then topped with Japanese mayo, red onion and soy sauce.

How to make salmon nigiri

How to make salmon nigiri

And what I noticed about her’s, was that it seemed simple enough to try and replicate. Obviously, there is no way I can make sushi that well, but ever since then I wanted to try it myself and see if I can make a recipe out of it. And here we are! What the chef did at the sushi bar, was use a blow torch to sear the top of the salmon right in front of us just before serving. Which I got so excited about, and that is the inspiration behind this recipe. However, I am sure there are many people who would prefer there salmon fresh rather than seared. So I made that step optional in the recipe.

So you can have it like this:

How to make salmon nigiri

How to make salmon nigiri

If you decide to try this recipe, I hope you have as much fun making it as I did. And remember, this recipe is about having fun, not about being a sushi expert. Thank you for the time you spent on this post, stay tuned because soon I will upload a post featuring a Madeleine recipe for valentines day revealing my feminine side. Feel free to subscribe to my blog (you’ll get a free recipe ebook if you do ? ), and have a super awesome day.

Salmon sashimi and nigiri are both Japanese cuisines. Both of them are easy to make but require knife skills.

In this blog post, you will be guided properly on how to cut salmon for these dishes.

Salmon Sashimi

Sashimi Defined

This cuisine looks different from your typical salmon steak because the filet has been sliced into paper-thin slices. This type of salmon goes best with soy sauce or other sauces such as ponzu, a citrus-based Japanese sauce that tastes very good with fish.

Steps in Cutting

Step 1. Being with a salmon fillet.

Step 2. Take off the white line in the center of the fillet. It is a tougher part of the fish and does not have the same texture as the rest of the fillet. You will not want to use this in your dish.

Step 3. Choose the part for your sashimi. Nigiri will be made from everything on the belly side of the line (thinnest part, right side). Sashimi will be made from the other side of the fillet.

Step 4. Using the thicker part towards the back of the fish, position the salmon fillet in such that you can slice it against the grain.

Step 5. Cut the salmon using a sharp knife (often called a nigiri knife). To get the paper-thin slice, be sure to apply even pressure. Start at one end of the fish and slide your hand slowly towards you while holding both ends firmly.

Note: Make sure to slice against the grain due to the following reasons:

  • Doing so keeps the fish from falling apart when we cut it.
  • It leaves a small amount of fiber in each piece and almost equal amounts.
  • With a grain cut, some salmon sashimi would be tough and fibrous, but others would lack fiber and crumble.
  • Also, it is easier and looks better to cut against the grain than with it.

Salmon Nigiri

Nigiri Defined

This is a method of presentation where the chef lays a slice of fish, on top of a bed made from seasoned rice. Then, the chef will add a dab of wasabi on top of it to accompany the dish.

Steps in Cutting

Step 1. Again, begin with a salmon fillet.

Step 2. The nigiri will be made from everything on the belly side of the line, or the thinnest part, that is visible (right side).

Step 3. Using the belly side of the salmon fillet, cut at a 45-degree angle against the fish’s grain. It is suggested to cut into 3-inch long, 1-inch wide, and 1/4-inch thick pieces.

Note: Slice by slicing perpendicularly from the end to the tip of the knife.

Pointers to Remember

When making salmon sashimi and nigiri, take note of the following.

  • Make use of clean and sharp knife. Be sure to keep your knife clean and sharp. You should regularly sharpen it for better control, as well as a more aesthetically appealing cut.
  • Slice on top of a wooden board or cutting mat to avoid having your blade touch directly onto your countertops. A wooden surface is ideal to help you produce clean and precise slices.
  • Use long even strokes when making cuts.

Final Verdict

Cutting fish for Japanese cuisines is a discipline. It is not only about having a sharp knife. You should also have the correct angle when doing the cut, to produce clean and even pieces.

Knowing how to slice salmon sashimi and nigiri properly will make your guests appreciate it that much more. We hope this blog post helps you achieve just that!

How to make salmon nigiri

How to Make nigiri sushi

1.”Shape the rice”

With your hand wet, grab about 20 grams of shari rice, and shape it to a long, oval from. The rice is going to be the base for the fish to lay on, so the bottom should be flat, and the top could be more rounded. The sides should definitely be a bit rounded.

2. “Cut a Slice”

As already mentioned, nigiri sushi topping can vary, but the basic form is “plain” salmon nigiri. So if it is salmon or tuna fish nigiri sushi you are making, the following measurements should be just fine.

Take a slice of fish, about 1 cm thick, 5 cm long and 3 cm wide. If the piece of fish you are cutting from is smaller, and does not allow you to cut such a slice, try slicing it at 45 degrees, it will allow you maximum “fish surface”.

Take a pea-sized portion of wasabi, and smear it along the middle of the fish slice. The wasabi will help the slice glue to the piece of rice, to form a steady nigiri sushi.

3. “Sushitrons – form a nigiri sushi!”

Now it’s time to place the slice of fish, with the wasabi side facing down, on the rice. Lay it gently on the rice, and then press it firmly to stick with the rice. You might want to use the other hand to hold the nigiri sushi from the sides while pressing it from above, to avoid “rice loss”.

“So, how can I start…?”

Well, the best thing is to get sushi equipment and ingredients to start with. Check out our sushi e-Store, for sushi kits and more. You might also want to know how to prepare sushi rice, or to read more about sushi grade fish for your sushi roll.

Magic in the kitchen

So what happens if you buy a huge salmon as such?

Due to high demand of requests from friends who wants to know how to do this, I will use pictures to illustrate how I slice my salmon into sashimi and nigiri.

As you can see, I have given instructions to my fishmonger to take the skin off for me. This was because I was in a rush for time. Normally I take the salmon skin off myself for hygiene purposes.

First of all, orientate yourself with the salmon. You can see that there is a line in the middle of the salmon. If following the above picture, on the right is the thicker part of the salmon so this is used for sashimi, the left is wider and thinner so this part is used for nigiri.

Divide the salmon in the middle.

when I say middle, can you see the line in the middle of the fish? The line has to be towards the nigiri (the thinner side) side as shown below.

Slice the part with the line off as shown in the pictures. This is because that part is quite ‘fibrous’. But it won’t be wasted, save it for making rolls.

There you go! the whole strip where the line was is completely sliced off now!

Flip the nigiri part over and trim off all the salmon fats…

After trimming all the fats, slice off the side to make it look neater. You can save the trimmings for the rolls so don’t throw them away.

Now we can start slicing. The most important thing about slicing is make sure the blade of ur knife is at 90 degrees to the salmon lines. This is how you get lines on the nigiri pieces which makes it look pretty. Can you see from the above picture how that is done. (I am regretting not photoshopping the photos and putting in arrows to illustrate better)

Angle your knife at 45 degrees.

Slice in one direction and one motion preferably from the end to the tip of the knife. Not in a sawing motion!

There you have sliced off the firs nigiri piece.

Repeat the steps to slice the rest…

There you have got all ur nigiri pieces lined up.

Now for the sashimi! Turn the other part of the fish around and start trimming the fats.

Turn the sashimi part back again to its original position after trimming the fats and start slicing as above. Approximately 1cm thick? Again, slice in one motion starting from the end of the knife to the tip of the knife. No sawing motion or you going to destroy the fish!

I supposed a video of me doing this would help. But hope the pictures useful! Speaks a thousand words

Now you have loads of sashimi to eat to your heart’s content.

Types of Salmon Sushi in Japan: Salmon Nigiri to Oshizushi

Salmon sushi is a favorite around the world, prized for its mild flavor and pleasant fattiness that’s packed with omega-3 acids without being too rich or oily. However, it may surprise you to find out that sushi salmon only recently came to be eaten in Japan in the past generation or so. Until about 30 years ago, salmon was only eaten cooked or grilled in Japan. Now, salmon sushi can be found all throughout the country, from kaiten-sushi (conveyor belt sushi) spots to exclusive sushi restaurants.

Read on to learn all about the different varieties of delicious salmon sushi that can be found in Japan.

How to make salmon nigiri

Aburi Salmon, Temaki & More. Find Your Favorite Salmon Sushi

Salmon Nigiri

How to make salmon nigiri

Salmon sushi is often eaten “nigiri” style, with a ball of vinegared sushi rice topped with a slice of salmon. It’s commonly enjoyed with wasabi and soy sauce, or salt and a bit of citrus. Although cooked salmon is known as “sake” (pronounced “sha-keh”) in Japanese, when ordering sushi it’s typically referred to as “sahmon”.

Aburi Salmon Nigiri

Aburi nigiri is regular salmon nigiri sushi that has been broiled “aburi” style with a blowtorch before serving. The fattiness of the salmon creates a richly grilled surface and a creamy center for every bite.

Saikyo Miso-Broiled Nigiri

How to make salmon nigiri
Image by mk-pick on Flickr

Saikyo miso originated in the Kyoto region and has a delicate, naturally sweet flavor that pairs wonderfully with the rich fattiness of salmon. Saikyo miso-broiled salmon nigiri sushi, made with salmon that has been marinated in saikyo miso and slightly cooked with a blowtorch.

Salmon Belly Nigiri

How to make salmon nigiri
Image by Roberto Maxwell on Flickr

Salmon harasu (belly) is the counterpart to tuna’s toro, or the fatty cut from the belly of the fish. Salmon belly is incredibly rich and also an uncommon menu item, so you’re more likely to find it in a proper sushi restaurant rather than a kaiten-zushi shop. If you’re lucky enough to spot it on a sushi menu, definitely be sure to give sake harasu a try.

Salmon Hosomaki

How to make salmon nigiri

Hosomaki are thin sushi rolls with nori seaweed on the outside, and sushi rice and fish on the inside. Salmon hosomaki from Japan was the inspiration for the “Philadelphia roll” that’s popular in other countries, a sushi roll filled with salmon, cream cheese and cucumber.

Salmon Temaki

Salmon temaki, or “hand rolls”, are an easy way to enjoy salmon sushi. They’re made with a small sheet of nori seaweed topped with sushi rice, sliced salmon, and garnishes, that’s rolled into an ice cream cone shape. It’s very easy to hold and to eat-no chopsticks required!

Salmon Oshizushi

How to make salmon nigiri

Oshizushi, or “pressed sushi”, is a traditional style of sushi that originated in the Kansai region in the west of Japan. It’s made with a wooden mold into which sushi rice, fish, and other ingredients are added, then pressed to form a firm block shape. The sushi block can then be sliced into individual pieces in a triangle, rectangle, or square shape. Salmon oshizushi can be made with smoked, raw, or aburi-broiled salmon.

Salmon Nigiri with Assorted Toppings

How to make salmon nigiri

A number of toppings can be enjoyed with salmon nigiri, especially at kaiten-zushi shops, which often come up with unique, non-traditional combinations for their sushi. Look for more traditional topping pairings like salmon with tobiko (flying fish roe) to more unusual combinations like salmon topped with shredded cheese or marinated salmon with mayonnaise and thinly sliced onion.

Ikura Gunkan Maki

How to make salmon nigiri

Ikura is salmon roe that has been marinated in soy sauce. When eaten in sushi, it’s typically served “gunkan maki”, or “battleship”, style. This type of sushi consists of a strip of nori seaweed wrapped around a ball of sushi rice, which creates a space at the top on which to spoon the loose ikura. The glistening orbs of ikura have a bright, jewel-like color and a buttery flavor.

Salmon Chirashizushi

Chirashizushi, which roughly translates to “scattered sushi”, is a style of sushi where the toppings are lightly scattered over a dish of sushi rice. Salmon chirashizushi often includes finely shredded Japanese omelet and ikura salmon roe. In addition to raw salmon, smoked salmon or salted salmon flakes can also be used.


How to make salmon nigiri

Zuke-salmon refers to salmon that has been marinated in either mirin, soy sauce, vinegar, sake, shio koji (fermented rice), and sake kasu (a pickling agent left over from the sake making process), or a combination of these. It may be used as a nigiri topping, or chirashizushi-style. The surface of the marinated fish can be grilled to create a sumptuous caramelization.

Tip on Sushi Etiquette

Do call ahead and make a reservation if you’re going to a higher-end sushi restaurant. If you can’t speak Japanese, have your hotel concierge book it or ask a friend. Be on time and don’t be a no-show!

Don’t wear any body fragrance such as perfumes or colognes, as the scent can interfere with the aroma and flavor of the sushi.

Do try to finish everything you order. If you’re at a kaiten-sushi restaurant, make sure not to take more than you can eat. When you’re finished eating, it’s best practice not to linger at the table or counter chatting as there may be other customers waiting to enter the restaurant.

Be Sure to Try Different Types of Salmon Sushi in Japan

Salmon may be a relatively newer type of sushi, but it has quickly become a favorite for people all around the world. Be sure to try it in Japan, where there are a wide variety of ways to enjoy salmon sushi that you can’t find anywhere else. Visit the Gurunavi listings for the best sushi restaurants all across the country.

Photo by Aubrie Pick

Before heading into work in Tokyo, I often stopped at a little stand where an elderly woman sold nothing but rice balls. Onigiri is a quintessential Japanese food: made by moms for breakfast, lunch boxes, and picnics. It is the ideal handheld food (the nori wrapper keeps the sticky rice from getting all over your hand).

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    • 1 teaspoon salt
    • 1 cup warm cooked rice
    • 4 teaspoons cooked flaked fresh salmon or flaked canned salmon
    • 2 sheets yakinori, halved


    1. In a shallow bowl, dissolve the salt in 1 cup water. Dip your hands into the salted water, then grab 1/4 cup of the rice. Using your hands, shape the rice into a small, fat triangle, then use your thumb to create an indentation in the center. Place a teaspoonful of the salmon in the hollow, dampen your hands lightly again, and pat the rice over the hollow to encase the salmon. Repeat to create 3 more rice balls.
    2. Dry your hands thoroughly. With the pointed end of the rice triangle facing the ceiling, wrap the nori around the bottom of each triangle, leaving the point showing between the open ends of the nori. Eat right away, or pack in your lunch box for later.
  1. Variations:
    1. Yaki Onigiri (Grilled Rice Balls):
      These rice balls have no filling or nori. Instead, once compactly formed, they are brushed with soy or miso and broiled until they are crispy and chewy on the outside and soft on the inside. As they are broiling (or grilling), evenly drizzle both sides of each triangle with 1 teaspoon soy sauce or brush with 1 teaspoon white miso. Broil, turning once, until both sides are very browned. Do not allow them to burn; especially watch the miso, which can burn quickly. These onigiri are delicious hot.