Nigirizushi and Proper Sushi Etiquette

Last night Koen prepared salmon nigirizushi, a mound of sushi rice (shari) with wasabi and a topping (neta) draped over it, . Normally he always makes makizushi, or sushi rolls, but decided to try something different after watching Jiro Dreams of Sushi.

Salmon nigirizushi process

Salmon nigirizushi process


I also learned a lot about sushi last night! I wanted to make sure that I was spelling nigiri correctly and then kept reading and in the end learned a lot about sushi etiquette! Also important, I learned that the “s” in sushi turns into a “z” when combined with a prefix.

Here are the most interesting rules of etiquette I learned last night, from multiple sources:

  • Nigirizushi is eaten with your hands, not chopsticks. You first turn the sushi upside down and only dip the neta, or topping, into the soy sauce – no rice! By dipping the rice into the soy sauce, it is absorbed too quickly making the sushi too salty. When you put the sushi in your mouth, the neta should be placed on your tongue (which is easy because it’s already upside down) and eaten in one bite.
  • If you are eating makizushi, or sushi rolls, you also should not dip the rice into the soy sauce. You should use the ginger as a brush to paint on the neta, the filling.
  • Don’t add extra wasabi! This is considered impolite and disrespectful to the chef. Sushi always contains wasabi and adding more is an insult to the chef, implying he didn’t add the correct amount.
  • Sharing sushi is fun but you have to do it correctly. If you want someone to try your sushi or if you want to try someone else’s, you should transfer the piece with your chopsticks onto their plate, not their mouth or chopsticks. If you do either of the latter, it is reminiscent of a funeral and impolite.
  • Don’t use a fork and/or knife! If you can’t use chopsticks, it’s perfectly acceptable to use your hands!


Mounds of sushi rice topped with wasabi.

Mounds of shari, or sushi rice, topped with wasabi.


Topping the mounds with the neta, salmon

Topping the mounds with the neta, salmon


Completed nigirizushi!

Completed nigirizushi!


My plate! With lots of ginger and cucumber :)

My plate! With lots of ginger and cucumber!

3 thoughts on “Nigirizushi and Proper Sushi Etiquette

  1. Pingback: New Recipe #42 of 104: Pho-Inspired Noodle Bowl | An American in Antwerp

  2. Pingback: New Recipe #59 of 104: Soba Noodles with Sweet Ginger Scallion Sauce | An American in Antwerp

  3. Pingback: Peking Duck Inspired Pancakes with Scallions | An American in Antwerp

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