How to Prepare Cooked Shrimp for Nigiri Sushi

shrimp nigiri
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  • 01 of 05

    Get Started by Deveining

    Raw shrimp
    Deveining raw shrimp. Melanie Acevedo/Photodisc/Getty Images

    If you are planning to serve a sushi platter, then one of the popular favorites fish and rice pairings from the platter is shrimp, or ebi, as it is known in Japanese. Although a sushi platter is mostly comprised of raw fish, not all fish is raw. The most common preparation of shrimp in nigiri (slices of fish on top of vinegared rice) ​sushi is cooked. Learn how to prepare, cook, and present shrimp for shrimp sushi.

    If you are using whole raw shrimp, first rinse it then remove the head. While fresh raw shrimp is best for making shrimp nigiri sushi, frozen raw shrimp with the tail on and head removed may also be used.  

    To devein the shrimp, make a shallow incision along the back of the shrimp. If the raw shrimp came with the shell intact, it is best to keep the shell on while the shrimp is cooked, as this adds significant flavor to the shrimp, versus shrimp that is first peeled and then cooked. Using a sharp bamboo skewer, use the pointed end to gently lift the vein out of the shrimp and remove it.

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  • 02 of 05

    Skewer Shrimp

    Raw shrimp
    Skewer shrimp. Maren Caruso/Photodisc/Getty Images

    In order to cook the shrimp so that it is straight and not curled, it is important to skewer the raw shrimp using a bamboo skewer.

    In order to do this, thread the shrimp on a bamboo skewer starting from the top to bottom. As much as possible, insert the bamboo skewer in the center of the flesh at the base of the head. As you move the skewer up the shrimp towards the tail, it might be necessary to move around the flesh of the shrimp so that the skewer remains in the center of the shrimp as much as possible. 

    Repeat this step until all shrimp are skewered.

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  • 03 of 05

    Boil the Shrimp

    Boiled shrimp
    Boil the shrimp. Renee Comet Photography/StockFood Creative/Getty Images

    Bring a pot of water to boil. Add salt to the water for seasoning. Boil the shrimp for 1 to 3 minutes until the shrimp turns an orange-pink color.

    Remove from heat and drain the skewered shrimp. Allow the shrimp to cool then gently remove the bamboo skewer. Peel and remove the shell.

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  • 04 of 05

    Butterfly the Shrimp

    Prepare the shrimp for sushi
    Butterfly the shrimp. Setsuko Yoshizuka

    Butterfly the cooked shrimp by cutting the cooked shrimp along the belly from the head all the way to the tail. Be careful to not cut all the way through. Shrimp often has a vein on the belly side of the shrimp. Remove this vein using your knife or the pointed end of a bamboo skewer.

    Spread the shrimp along the belly and flatten to create one flat piece of shrimp.

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  • 05 of 05

    Shrimp for Sushi

    Ebi nigiri sushi. Kondo Photography/Cultura/Getty Images

    After the cooked shrimp has been butterflied, remove excess water and moisture from the shrimp. Spread out paper towels, and lay cooked shrimp on the towels. Allow the cooked shrimp to rest for about 2 minutes until the shrimp feel drained of moisture but not completely dried out. The shrimp are now ready to be used to make nigiri sushi.

    Ebi nigiri sushi is not to be confused with amaebi, or sweet spot prawns. Due to the delicate nature of the smaller variety of cold water northern shrimp, amaebi are usually served raw.