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Salmon Nigiri – Simply Home Cooked

Salmon Nigiri on a white plate, some with spicy mayo on top, chopsticks and wasabi paste nearby


This Salmon Nigiri recipe is the perfect introduction to making homemade sushi. Easy and delicious, it has lots of umami flavor and can be served raw or seared.

If you love sushi, then you should try this Shrimp Tempura Roll and Easy Sushi Bake.

Salmon Nigiri on a white plate, some with spicy mayo on top, chopsticks and wasabi paste nearby
Table Of Contents

Recipe Details

I love making this easy Salmon Nigiri because its simple look hides how packed it is with great flavor. Impress friends and family with this dish at mealtime.

  • TASTE: This fish has a rich, fatty flavor that’s enhanced by the tangy sushi rice and spicy wasabi paste. Dipping it in soy sauce gives it a salty, umami finish.
  • TEXTURE: The sticky rice is topped with tender, chewy cuts of fatty salmon. You can’t help but love the contrasting mouth feel in each bite of this Salmon Nigiri.
  • TIME: This dish will take about an hour to make.
  • EASE: With detailed instructions and step-by-step photos, this recipe is nice and easy. Follow it for perfect nigiri every time.

What You’ll Need

Ingredients for Salmon Nigiri: salmon fillet, wasabi paste, water, sushi rice, and soy sauce.

Ingredient Notes

  • Salmon fillet- Farm-raised Atlantic salmon is best for this recipe. You can use fresh, or frozen and thawed. Always check for pin bones before starting as they are sometimes missed.
  • Japanese short-grain rice– Short-grain rice has more starch and is stickier when cooked, which makes it ideal for sushi rice that needs to be formed for Salmon Nigiri.
  • Unseasoned rice vinegar– This adds a tangy, sweet flavor to the rice.
  • Granulated sugar– A little sugar goes a long way to sweetening up the sushi rice.
  • Soy sauce- This has a deliciously salty, umami flavor. You can use regular or the low-sodium version.

Add-ins and Substitutions

  • Add sauces- You can also drizzle a little bit of spicy mayo on top of the salmon, or some unagi sauce, garlic ponzu, and Yum Yum Sauce.
  • Sear the salmon nigiri- Use a chef’s torch to sear the top of the salmon for a delicious smoky seared salmon nigiri.
  • Add toppings- Top your nigiri with thinly sliced lemon peel, pickled onions, crunchy tempura flakes, tobiko, or masago.
  • Substitute different rice- If you haven’t got short-grain Japanese rice, you can also use medium-grain. It will not be as sticky, but will work in a pinch. Long-grained is usually too dry to be used for sushi rice.

How to Make Salmon Nigiri

  • Make the sushi rice. Start off by rinsing the Japanese short-grain rice with cold water a few times until the water runs almost clear. Then place the rinsed and drained rice into your rice cooker and add a cup of water before turning it on to cook.
  • Prepare the sushi vinegar- Add the unseasoned rice vinegar, granulated sugar, and fine sea salt to a small saucepan. Let it come to a simmer and mix using a whisk. Once the sugar dissolves, turn it off and let it cool.
  • Mix the rice and vinegar together- When the rice is done cooking, immediately transfer it to a baking sheet and pour the sushi vinegar over it. Use a paddle-style spoon or spatula, gently mix them together. Then let it cool to room temperature before making the nigiri.
  • Prep the salmon. While the rice is cooling, slice the salmon with a sharp knife against the grain at a 45-degree angle. I made each sashimi slice about 1/8-1/16 of an inch thick.
  • Form the rice base of your salmon nigiri. Dip your clean hands into a bowl of water and form about 2-3 tablespoons of the rice into an oval shape in the palm of your hand, with one side flatter than the other.
  • Assemble your nigiri- Now place some wasabi on top of the rounded side (optional) and then press 1 slice of the salmon on top. Serve immediately. You can also use a chef’s torch to sear the top of the salmon along with some spicy mayo for a smoky-spicy flavor combination.

Pro Tip: When choosing the salmon for your nigiri, only use farm-raised Atlantic salmon that has been previously frozen to prevent harmful bacteria.

Steps to make Salmon Nigiri: slicing the salmon, forming the sushi rice into ovals, adding wasabi, then placing the salmon slice on top

Recipe Tips

  • Wash the rice- Always rinse your rice to remove any excess starch or contaminants. I find it best to place the rice in a fine-mesh sieve and run the kitchen faucet right through it.
  • Fluff your sushi rice- When you mix the sushi rice and vinegar together, use a slicing and lifting motion rather than a fold and smooth motion. This will keep the rice fluffy and not mashed down.
  • Cut the salmon to your preference- I sliced the salmon about 1/8-1/16 of an inch thick because I like it thin, but you can slice it to about 1/4-inch thick if you like.
  • Wet your hands before forming the rice- Don’t forget to dip your fingers into a bowl of water each time you shape the rice. This will prevent it from sticking to you.
  • Add smoky flavor– Use a chef’s torch to sear the top of the salmon along with some spicy mayo for a smoky-spicy flavor combination.
Salmon Nigiri on a white plate, one with spicy mayo on top and being seared by a blowtorch

FAQs

How do you make salmon nigiri?

To form your salmon nigiri, wet your fingers to keep them from sticking and roll your sushi rice in an oval, flat on the bottom and rounded on top. Lay the salmon on top with some wasabi in between to act like glue. Gently press the salmon into the rice, then place it on a serving plate.

What is salmon nigiri called?

Salmon nigiri is a slice of raw salmon that is placed upon a pillow of sushi rice. When the salmon is seared with a blowtorch for an added smoky flavor, it is called aburi nigiri. The fattiness of the salmon creates a rich crust while the center remains creamy and tender.

Serving Suggestions

This delicious Salmon Nigiri sushi can really be served with anything. It’s got simple, scrumptious flavor that’s truly versatile.

  • Sushi: Enjoy this dish with California Roll Sushi Bowls, Shrimp Tempura Rolls, and Easy Sushi Bakes.
  • Salad: Serve this nigiri alongside some Kani Salad, Cucumber Radish Salad, or seaweed salad.
  • Sides: Pair it with Shrimp Tempura Udon Soup, Chicken Tempura, Fried Spring Rolls (VIDEO), or Hibachi Fried Rice.
  • Desserts: Follow your Salmon Nigiri with a sweet treat, such as these Mochi Donuts (VIDEO), Strawberry Tanghulu, delicious Dango, mochi ice cream, or Easy Ube Ice Cream.
Salmon Nigiri on a white plate, one being lifted by black chopsticks

Make This Recipe in Advance

Make ahead: You can prepare the sushi rice and sushi vinegar a day or so in advance. Just keep them covered and stored in the fridge. Also, you can slice the salmon up to a day ahead, but you will need to store it in the fridge as well, and eat it within one day.

Storing: You can keep this Salmon Nigiri in the fridge for up to 1 day before it’s unsafe to eat. Store it in an airtight container or covered with plastic wrap.

Freeze: While you can freeze rice and salmon, it is not safe to refreeze salmon that was previously frozen and thawed. So only prepare enough nigiri to eat within a day.

More Yummy Japanese-inspired Dishes!

Love this recipe? Please leave a 5 star ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️ rating in the recipe card below ⬇️ and/or a review in the comment section further down.

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Full Recipe Instructions

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Salmon Nigiri

This delicious Salmon Nigiri is simple, easy, and packed with flavor. Impress your family and friends with this tasty sushi recipe.

Print Pin Rate

Course: Appetizer

Cuisine: Asian

Diet: Gluten Free

Prep Time: 45 minutes

Cook Time: 20 minutes

Total Time: 1 hour 5 minutes

Calories: 105kcal

Instructions

  • Start off by making the sushi rice first. Rinse 1 cup of Japanese short-grain rice with cold water a few times until the water runs almost clear. I find it best to place the rice in a fine-mesh sieve and run the kitchen faucet right through it.
  • Place the rinsed and drained rice into your rice cooker, then add 1 cup of water and turn it on to cook.
  • In the meantime, make the sushi vinegar by placing 2 1/2 Tablespoons of unseasoned rice vinegar, 1 Tbsp granulated sugar, and 1/4 teaspoon of fine sea salt in a small saucepan.
  • Let it come to a simmer and mix using a whisk. Once the sugar dissolves, turn it off and let it cool.

  • When the rice is done cooking, immediately transfer it to a baking sheet and pour the sushi vinegar over it. Use a paddle-style spoon or spatula to gently mix the vinegar into the rice. You’ll want to make sure to use a slicing and lifting lotion rather than a fold and smooth motion.

  • Once the rice is mixed with the sushi vinegar, let it cool to room temperature before making the nigiri.

  • While the rice is cooling slice the salmon. TIP: only use farm-raised Atlantic salmon that has been previously frozen to prevent harmful bacteria. Slice the salmon fillet against the grain at a 45-degree angle. I made each slice about 1/8-1/16 of an inch thick. But you can slice them up thicker to about 1/4 inch thick. I personally like the pieces of fish to be very thin.

  • Now dip your clean hands into a bowl of water (to prevent sticking) and grab about 2-3 tablespoons of the rice into the palm of your hand and form it into an oval shape. It helps to make one side of the oval flatter and the other more round.

  • Now place a small amount of wasabi on top of the rounded side and then press 1 slice of the salmon on top. The wasabi is optional but it helps keep the salmon in place. Serve the salmon nigiri immediately or keep it in the fridge for up to 1 day before it’s unsafe to eat. You can also drizzle a little bit of spicy mayo on top of the salmon and use a chef’s torch to sear the top of the salmon for a delicious smokey seared salmon nigiri.

Notes

  • Wash the rice- Always rinse your rice to remove any excess starch or contaminants. I find it best to place the rice in a fine-mesh sieve and run the kitchen faucet right through it.
  • Fluff your sushi rice- When you mix the sushi rice and vinegar together, use a slicing and lifting motion rather than a fold and smooth motion. This will keep the rice fluffy and not mashed down.
  • Cut the salmon to your preference- I sliced the salmon about 1/8-1/16 of an inch thick because I like it thin, but you can slice it to about 1/4-inch thick if you like.
  • Wet your hands before forming the rice- Don’t forget to dip your fingers into a bowl of water each time you shape the rice. This will prevent it from sticking to you.

Nutrition

Calories: 105kcal | Carbohydrates: 170g | Protein: 58g | Fat: 15g | Saturated Fat: 3g | Polyunsaturated Fat: 6g | Monounsaturated Fat: 5g | Cholesterol: 125mg | Sodium: 695mg | Potassium: 1264mg | Fiber: 6g | Sugar: 12g | Vitamin A: 91IU | Calcium: 41mg | Iron: 10mg

Dina





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