Nigiri Sushi

MAKES: 24 to 36 pieces

TIME: 20 minutes with premade rice and topping

Nigiri is simple hand-shaped sushi, which takes less practice than rolled (maki) sushi; see the accompanying illustrations. To top, you can use any filling from the Improvising Sushi Bowls chart. For example, try stacked strips of Japanese Egg Crepes, pickled or marinated vegetables, or Kimchi. Just cut whatever topping you choose into pieces that will fit onto your molded rice.

Nigiri can be made an hour or so ahead: Drape the pieces with damp paper towels, cover with plastic, and store them in a cool place. Do not refrigerate, which will harden the rice.

1 sheet nori, toasted (see Nori Chips; optional)

2 tablespoons rice or other mild vinegar

1 recipe Sushi Rice

1/4 cup wasabi paste (optional)

36 small pieces of topping (see Centerpiece and Garnish columns from the chart, Improvising Sushi Bowls)

Soy sauce Pickled Ginger for garnish

If you’re using the nori, cut it into about 1/2 Г— 5-inch strips (using scissors is easiest). Mix 1 cup water with the vinegar (this is called hand water).

Put about 2 tablespoons or so of the rice in the palm of your hand; cup your hand and use your other hand to help shape the rice into a small oblong piece, about 1 Г— 3 inches; rinse your hands in the hand water as needed. Smear the nigiri with a fingerful of wasabi (careful; it’s hot), then add your topping.

If you like, wrap a strip of nori over the middle of the nigiri, securing the topping in place, and seal the end by dampening it with the hand water. Serve with pickled ginger and soy sauce.