For those of you that have never had it, chirashi sushi i a bowl of vinegared sushi rice topped with a bunch of colorful stuff. At most sushi restaurants this means covering the rice with slices of various raw fish, but that’s not always how it’s made.
Growing up my mom used to make a vegetarian version with simmered shitake mushrooms, carrots, egg, sugar peas and benishoga (red ginger) for any potluck or party we’d go to. It makes for a great party dish because it’s something you eat at room temperature and the ticker-tape-confetti of toppings makes it look very festive.
My rendition is a bit more extravagant, capturing the essence of the sea. The ingredients aren’t cheap, but it’s still cheaper than going to a local sushi restaurant and it isn’t nearly as hard to prepare as it looks. I made this in about an hour, but if you make some of the stuff ahead of time it can be assembled in even less time.
If you’re squeamish about uni (or any of the other ingredients) you could obviously sub them out, but steamed uni is not nearly as off-putting as the raw kind they have at sushi restaurants. Cooking it gives it more structure making it more cheese like in texture (though not flavour) while retaining its sweet creaminess.
- Combine all the ingredients in a small saucepan (including the 2 Tbs of reserved soaking liquid). If you're using fresh shitake mushrooms, just replace the soaking liquid with water. Boil until the mushrooms have absorbed most of the liquid and are a nice brown color about 5-10 minutes. Cool then squeeze out the excess liquid. You can make this up to a couple days in advance
- Add some water to a pot and insert a steamer rack, cover and boil. Lay the uni in a shallow bowl that will fit in your steamer then cover with mirin and a few pinches of salt. Once the steamer is hot, put the bowl in the steamer, cover and return to a boil for 1 minute. Turn off the heat (without opening the lid) and allow it to continue steaming for 4 minutes. Remove the bowl from the steamer, cover and allow to cool. You can make this up to a day in advance
- Beat all the ingredients for the tamago together until well combined. Heat a non-stick pan over medium heat then use a paper towel to apply a thin layer of oil. Add the egg and using chopsticks, scramble. When the egg has mostly solidified, start scrambling vigorously to break up the curds. You want to cook this a little longer than you normally would for soft scrambled eggs, but you don't want them to be tough or chewy. Transfer to a bowl, cover and allow to cool. You can make these up to a day in advance.
Once the rice is ready, put it in a serving platter and top with sesame seeds. Scatter a few tablespoons of tobiko, then sprinkle on the shitake mushrooms and some of the shiso. Crumble the tamago and uni on top. Finish with a few tablespoons of ikura and crab (optional) then top with the remaining shiso.
You'll want to serve this as soon as possible. If you have leftovers, put them in the fridge and when you want to eat it, let it come to room temperature before eating. You won't want to eat it cold as the rice will be hard and you certainly don't want to heat it in a microwave.
If you're confused, here's a video that might help.