Nigiri sushi is a type of Japanese dish made with sushi rice and fresh fish. The sushi rice is hand formed into a small clump, and the fish is sliced and pressed on top of it. In some cases, nigiri sushi uses a small strip of toasted seaweed called nori to bind the whole mixture together, although this is not obligatory. Nigiri sushi is commonly found in sushi restaurants which have a reliable supply of high quality raw fish and well trained cooks.
Nigiri sushi is commonly called two kinds sushi because it involves two ingredients: sushi rice and a single topping. The topping is also known as neta, and usually takes the form of a type of seafood such as tuna, eel, haddock, shad, snapper, octopus, or shrimp. Depending on the type of fish, it may be served raw in thin slices, grilled, or batter fried. Because the fish is clearly on display, and often served raw, cooks select fish of the highest quality and cut it meticulously so that it is aesthetically pleasing and healthy to eat..
In many restaurants, nigiri sushi is offered on a combination platter, so that diners can try several different types at once. Nigiri sushi is often served with other types of sushi such as maki for a taste contrast. Some types of nigiri sushi incorporate multiple ingredients, although they are found more often outside of Japan. One of the most common nigiri sushi combinations is grilled unagi, or eel, and avocado.
Like other types of sushi, nigiri is traditionally accompanied with a variety of condiments and sauces. Pickled ginger, wasabi, and soy sauce are all common, although other pickled vegetables such as shiso leaf are not unusual. Other garnishes might include shredded daikon radish and salted seaweed. Nigiri sushi should be eaten by hand, though some may choose to use chopsticks, and guests are usually provided with small individual plates and mixing bowls for sauces.
Nigiri sushi can be made at home, if you have a reliable source of very high quality fresh fish. If you live in an inland region, or are unable to obtain fresh caught fish, the fish should be grilled, roasted, or baked before being eaten. To make nigiri sushi, cook a batch of short grained sticky rice and season it with a mixture of one tablespoon rice vinegar, one teaspoon sugar, and a pinch of salt to every cup of rice. Let the rice cool while you prepare your neta. Dip your hands in water to keep the rice from adhering and pick up a small handful of rice, compressing it so that it forms a clump. Then place the neta on top of the fish, using a dot of wasabi for glue if you are concerned that the fish will slip, and serve with sauces and condiments.