Nigirizushi, or “nigiri sushi”, comes in many different forms at our Japanese restaurant in Seattle. If you really want to impress your culturally-conscious friends, try brushing up on these important terms for your next night of sushi.
The word “nigirizushi” itself translates literally to “hand-formed sushi”. This describes the method by which the mound of sushi rice is pressed between the palms of the hands to attain its distinct, oblong shape. The strip of fish or other topping that rests upon this rice is called the neta.
Sometimes the topping that goes on the nigiri is loose, like a cluster of roe. In these cases, the topping needs to be held in place with a broad band of nori. Such sushi is called gunkan-maki, or “warship roll”, describing the resemblance of the cup-like nori to a watercraft.
Inarizushi, often simply called “inari” in English-speaking countries, represents one of the bigger oddballs in the sushi world. This dish is named after a Shinto god who was said to love fried tofu, and comes in the form of a nugget of fried tofu stuffed with sushi rice. Inari sushi is a popular treat among the children of Japan, who frequently nickname it “brown-bag” sushi based on its odd appearance.