Chirashi Sushi (ちらし寿司)
Chirashi Sushi is a traditional style of Japanese sushi that’s probably the inspiration behind most modern sushi bowls. With sushi rice topped with a scattering of colorful toppings, it’s an easy, flexible way of making sushi at home using the ingredients that are available to you. That’s why this Chirashi bowl was one of the first recipes to come to mind when Mizkan™ offered to sponsor a recipe here.
Mizkan is a family-owned Japanese brand that’s been making vinegar and sauces for over 215 years. It’s the brand of vinegar my mom always used for making her Chirashi Sushi when I was growing up in the US. Now that I’m back in Japan, I have many choices, but they’re still my go-to brand for rice vinegar.
Why This Recipe Works?
- Many people assume that raw fish is at the heart of all sushi, but it’s the vinegared sushi rice that most modern styles of sushi have in common. This is why it’s so important to get the sushi rice right. Aside from using good, Japanese short-grain rice, an authentic Japanese rice vinegar like Mizkan’s Natural Rice Vinegar is the key to making great sushi rice.
- It’s also important to cook the rice well. This starts by rinsing the excess starch off the rice’s surface, soaking it in water to rehydrate the grains, and then cooking and steaming the rice.
- When it comes to mixing the rice with the sushi vinegar, the key is to get the seasoning to coat every grain of rice without breaking the rice grains and then cooling it rapidly, so the rice doesn’t turn mushy.
- Part of the appeal of Chirashi Sushi is the rainbow of colors, textures, and flavors scattered over the sushi rice. As long as you remember to keep a good balance of these, you can top this with any combination of ingredients you like. This makes it a super flexible dish that can be made almost anywhere.
Ingredients for Chirashi Sushi
- Rice – Sushi is best made using Japanese short-grain rice. This is because short-grain rice has a higher ratio of amylopectin to amylose, which gives it a sticky texture that’s a hallmark of good sushi rice. Amylopectin also takes much longer to retrograde than amylose, which means short-grain rice won’t get hard when it’s served at room temperature. Medium grain varietals such as Calrose will work, but it’s not ideal. I do not recommend trying to make this with long-grain rice.
- Sushi Vinegar – Sushi vinegar is a sweet, sour, and slightly salty seasoning made by mixing rice vinegar with sugar and salt. For this recipe, I will show you how to make it from scratch, but you can also use a pre-mixed one like Mizkan’s Seasoned Rice Vinegar. The mixture can also make quick pickles, marinades, and potato salad, so I always like to make a big batch and keep it in a squeeze bottle.
- Seafood – Seafood is not the focus of most versions of Chirashi Sushi, which makes it totally optional. My mom would occasionally top her version with boiled shrimp, but usually, it was topped with shiitake mushrooms, carrots, egg, snow peas, and red pickled ginger. I’ve included a mix of raw tuna and poached shrimp for my version and, to make it a little extra, I’ve also used some ikura.
- Egg – Egg is a popular topping for Chirashi Sushi because it’s colorful and adds protein, especially if you plan on making it without seafood. I’m topping this with thin threads of egg called Kinshi Tamago, but you can also make Tamagoyaki (Japanese rolled omelet) and cut it up into slices or cubes.
- Garnishes – Pick garnishes that really make the color and texture pop. I’ve used crisp snap peas and sweet carrots, along with some nutty sesame. I cut the snap peas into leaves for some extra visual impact, and I used a vegetable cutter to cut my carrots into flowers. I’ve also used some edible shiso flowers as an added touch at the end, but you can garnish with any edible flowers or fresh herbs you have on hand.
How to Make Chirashi Sushi
The first thing you want to do is prepare the rice. To do this, you want to rinse the excess starch off of the surface of the rice by putting it in a sieve and agitating it with your hands under cold running water. When the water runs almost clear, drain it well and transfer the rice to a deep pot or rice-cooker bowl.
If you are using a rice cooker, fill the water a smidge below the two-cup marker (to account for the extra liquid we add when we season the rice). If you are doing this in a pot, add 1 1/2 US cups of cold water to the pot and cover it with a lid. In both cases, you want to let the rice soak for 30 minutes before you start cooking it (note: some rice cookers have pre-soaking built into the cycle, so check your manual to determine whether you need to do this or not).
While you wait for the rice to soak, make the sushi vinegar by adding the rice vinegar, sugar, and salt to a bowl with a spout and whisk it together until the sugar and salt are fully dissolved.
For the cooked toppings for the Chirashi Sushi, I start by boiling the carrots in a pot of well-salted water. When they’re soft enough to pass a toothpick through, I add the trimmed snap peas and cook them for about 30 seconds. You want them to be vibrant green but still very crisp. Next, use tongs or a slotted spoon to transfer the veggies to a bowl of cold water to chill them rapidly.
Add the peeled and deveined shrimp to the boiling water and give it a stir. Turn off the heat and let the shrimp poach until they become a vibrant orange, turning from translucent to opaque all the way through the center. You can cut one in half to check. Transfer the shrimp to a bowl of cold water to chill them and prevent overcooking.
For the Kinshi Tamago, break the eggs into a bowl and use chopsticks or tweezers to remove the chalaza (the white membranes near the yolk). Add a pinch of salt to season the egg and beat them until they’re uniform in color. You want to try and avoid making bubbles in the mixture because these can create holes in the thin omelets when you cook them. The best way to do this is to use a side-to-side motion rather than a circular whisking motion when beating them. If you do end up with bubbles or weren’t able to remove all of the chalazae, you can pass the egg through a fine-mesh strainer to remove them.
Heat a non-stick frying pan over medium-low heat until it’s too hot to touch but not so hot that a drop of water will sizzle. Swirl the vegetable oil around the pan and use a folded-up paper towel to spread it around and remove any excess beads of oil.
Pour about a quarter of the egg mixture into the pan and swirl it around immediately to create a thin, even layer of egg. Let this cook undisturbed until the edges of the omelet start to dry out and easily pull away from the pan. Next, flip the egg over and cook the other side for a few seconds before transferring it to a cutting board. Repeat this process three more times until you’ve used all of the egg. If you notice the egg browning, it means your heat is up too high, so turn the heat down a bit.
Once all of the egg has been cooked, stack them on top of each other on the cutting board and then roll them together into a log. Use a sharp knife to slice them into thin threads.
For the fish, cut it into bite-sized cubes.
For the snap peas, cut a “v” into the center of each one to create leaves. Play around with different angles to create different shapes of leaves. You also cut the coins of carrots into flowers using a vegetable cutter.
By now, your rice should be done soaking, so either turn the rice cooker on or move the pot over to the stove and turn it on to high heat.
If you’re making the sushi rice in a pot, bring the water to a boil and then turn down the heat as low as it will go and set a timer for 15 minutes. The goal here is to have the rice absorb all of the water. Depending on your setup, it can take 2-3 minutes less time, so check it periodically to ensure you don’t burn the rice. Once the water is gone, turn off the stove and then set the timer for another 10 minutes to allow the rice to steam. Be sure you don’t open the lid.
Once the rice is done steaming, transfer it to the largest non-reactive bowl(glass, plastic, or wood) you own and then drizzle the sushi vinegar evenly over the rice. The reason for this is that you want to spread the rice over a large surface area to get the excess liquid to evaporate quickly.
Use a spatula or a rice paddle to incorporate the sushi vinegar so that each grain of rice has an even coating. I usually use a folding motion followed by a cutting motion, being careful not to smash the individual grains of rice.
Next, you want to rapidly cool the rice by fanning it while you fold. Then, when it’s down to room temperature, you can assemble your Chirashi Sushi in serving-sized bowls or on a large serving platter.
After adding the rice to the serving vessel of your choice, sprinkle it with the toasted sesame seeds.
Blanket the top of the rice with the egg and then top your Chirashi Sushi with fish, shrimp, and vegetables along with whatever other garnishes you’d like to add (I used some ikura and edible flowers).
Other Sushi Recipes
Chirashi Sushi is a traditional Japanese style of sushi that’s served in a bowl. The name literally means “scattered sushi,” and it gets its name because the toppings are scattered over a bowl of sushi rice. Although the toppings can include raw seafood, many versions of Chirashi Sushi don’t have any raw ingredients, and some don’t include any seafood either. The exception is sushi-restaurant-style Chirashi, which focuses on sashimi that’s neatly arranged on top of the sushi rice.
Chirashi Sushi is a five-syllable name. Although it’s spelled “chirashi sushi,” it’s usually pronounced “chirashi zushi.”
chi like cheek
ra the “ra” sound does not exist in the English language, and the best way to make it is to say the word “romp” with the tip of your tongue at the front of your mouth.
shi like sheet
zu like zoo
shi like sheet
Chirashi Sushi isn’t like other types of sushi that you can pick up with your fingers and dip in soy sauce. The two options you have are to serve it with a small dish of soy sauce for people to dip the various toppings in. Otherwise, you can drizzle some soy sauce over the top of the entire sushi bowl.
Although this particular Chirashi Sushi recipe includes seafood and egg, it is easily adapted to be vegan friendly. Just substitute these ingredients for a colorful assortment of plant-based alternatives, such as roasted red bell peppers, tofu marinated with soy sauce and ginger, and shiitake mushrooms that have been simmered in soy sauce and mirin. Here’s a recipe for vegan-friendly Chirashi Sushi.
This recipe was developed by me and was sponsored by Mizkan Rice Vinegars and Sauces, available nationwide at major national retailers like Walmart, Albertsons Safeway, Shop Rite, Hy-Vee, Food Lion and Hannaford. Follow Mizkan on Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, and Pinterest.
For sushi rice
- 310 grams Japanese short-grain rice 1 1/2 cups
- 1 ½ cups cold water
- ¼ cup Mizkan Natural Rice Vinegar
- 3 tablespoons sugar
- 1 teaspoon salt
- 85 grams snap peas (14 pods, trimmed)
- 100 grams carrot (1/2 carrot peeled & sliced into 12 coins)
- 180 grams shrimp (31-40, peeled and deveined)
- 3 large eggs
- 1 pinch salt
- 1 teaspoon vegetable oil
- 160 grams sashimi-grade fish (such as tuna, salmon, or hamachi)
- 2 teaspoons toasted sesame seeds
- 100 grams ikura (optional)
- Soy sauce (for serving)
- Put the rice in a sieve and wash it under cold running water while agitating the rice until it runs mostly clear. Next, drain the rice and put it in a tall saucepan with a lid along with 1 1/2 cups of water, and cover it with a lid. Let this rest for 30 minutes while you prepare the toppings.
- To prepare the sushi vinegar, whisk the rice vinegar, sugar, and salt together until everything is dissolved.
- To prepare the vegetables, add the carrots to a pot of well-salted water and bring them to a boil. Cook until the carrots are just tender enough to poke a fork through. Add the snap peas and cook for about 30 seconds. Transfer them to a water bath using a slotted spoon to chill and then drain.
- Add the shrimp to the boiling water and turn off the heat. Let the shrimp poach in the hot water until they turn vibrant orange and are no longer translucent (about 2-3 minutes). Transfer to a water bath to chill, and then drain.
- To prepare the eggs, crack them into a bowl, add a pinch of salt, and beat them from side to side using chopsticks until uniform in color, trying to avoid the creation of bubbles.
- Heat a non-stick frying pan over medium-low heat until hot but not scorching. Pour the vegetable oil into the pan, and then use a paper towel to spread it around and soak up any excess oil.
- Pour just enough egg into the pan to swirl it around the pan to coat the bottom. Let this cook undisturbed until the edges start to dry out and separate from the pan. Next, flip the egg over with a spatula. After a few seconds, transfer the egg to a cutting board and keep it covered with plastic wrap. Repeat with the remaining egg and stack them on top of each other.
- When the egg is all cooked, roll the stack of egg sheets and use a sharp knife to slice them into thin threads.
- Cut your fish into bite-sized cubes, and keep it refrigerated until you’re ready to serve it. You can also cut your carrots into flowers and your snap peas into leaves if you like.
- When the rice is done soaking, bring it to a boil over high heat. As soon as it comes to a boil, turn down the heat to low and set a timer for 15 minutes.
- Turn off the heat when the timer is up and let the rice steam for 10 minutes without opening the lid.
- When the rice is done, transfer it to a large bowl and drizzle the sushi vinegar evenly over the rice. Use a spatula or rice paddle to fold the sushi vinegar into the rice, being careful not to mash the rice grains up.
- Once the vinegar is fully integrated, fan the rice to cool it off while you fold to quickly bring the rice down to room temperature.
- To assemble the Chirashi Sushi, divide the rice between 4 serving bowls and top with a sprinkle of sesame seeds.
- Scatter the shredded egg on the rice and then top with the fish, shrimp, and vegetables.
- Garnish with Ikura and serve with soy sauce for drizzling to taste.