Most people know and love sushi rolls. However, sushi comes in many forms. Chirashi-zushi is a hearty type of sushi wth a rainbow of colors and textures, in which various cooked and raw ingredients are served over a bed of sushi rice.
Chirashi-zushi is a favorite dish for celebration and happy occasions such Festival of Dolls (Hinamatsuri). The toppings typically include Japanese favorites such as raw fish and seafood, shredded egg crepe, blanched lotus root, carrots, bamboo shoots, and snap peas, but they may also be any medley of vegetables, fish, meats or other ingredients you like.
To make chirashi-zushi, first, you prepare the sushi rice and then top it with your favorite toppings.
Prepare Sushi Rice
Ingredients (6-8 portions)
- 3 cups of short-grained Japanese rice (450 g)
- 5 tablespoons of rice vinegar
- 4 tablespoons of sugar (adjust to taste)
- 1 and 1/3 teaspoon of salt (about 8 grams)
Wash the rice thoroughly until the water runs clear. Drain, and put it in a pan. Add about 3 and 1/2 cups of water, and let it soak for at least one hour.
Put the lid on, bring to boil, reduce the heat and simmer for about 10 minutes. Turn the heat off and let it stand with the lid on for another 5 minutes. Do not lift the lid.
While the rice is cooking, mix the rice vinegar, sugar, and salt into a pan. Simmer on a low heat until the sugar and salt have dissolved. Be careful not to let it boil. Remove from the heat and leave to cool. This mixture is called sushi-su.
Put the cooked rice into a large pan, baking dish, or roasting tray. (Japanese use a round, flat-bottomed wooden tub called hangiri, also known as sushi oke). Pour the sushi-su over a wooden spatula or spoon and gently "cut and fold" the sushi-su into the rice. Don't stir or squish!
Make sure the rice is still hot. The rice needs to cool down as you mix. This will give it more flavor and that traditional glaze. You can use a Japanese hand fan (called uchiwa) or a small electric fan to speed the process.
If you don't want to use the rice immediately, cover it with a damp cloth and leave it in a cool place, but do not refrigerate. The rice will stay soft and moist, and the sushi-su will help preserve it at least for a day.
Add Your Favorite Toppings
Here, the limit is your imagination. There are no hard rules for what toppings to choose. You can customize the ingredients and enjoy your original creation with your favorite people.
Below are a few traditional toppings. However, you can go vegan, seafood, poultry/meats, or pretty much anything you like!
- Lotus roots marinated in sweet vinegar (amazu)
- Simmered shiitake mushrooms
- Red pickled ginger or plums (Umeboshi)
- Bamboo shoots cooked in brine
- Shredded nori seaweed
- Shredded egg crepe (Kinshi Tamago)
- Grilled eel (Unagi)
- Boiled prawns/shrimps
- Diced sashimi (tuna, salmon, ...)
- Salmon roe (Ikura)