Chirashi Sushi is served on happy occasions and at parties in Japan. This bright and colorful dish is made of sushi rice with a variety of vegetables mixed in, and toppings sprinkled over the top.
The dishes you see in Japanese restaurants outside of Japan is just a tiny, tiny collection of what we eat in Japan. There are so many Japanese dishes that are not well known outside of Japan and I look forward to introducing them to you.
Today’s dish Chirashi Sushi (ちらし寿司) might sound familiar to you, but maybe not so much after you take a look.
Two Types of Chirashi Sushi
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Type 1: Sashimi Over Sushi Rice
I think this Chirashi Sushi is what you’re familiar with. When you order “Chirashi Sushi” at Japanese restaurants, you’ll get a lacquer box of assorted sashimi nicely plated over the sushi rice.
Around early 1900’s, sushi chefs in Edo (current Tokyo area) started to serve the sashimi on top of sushi rice and called it Chirashi Sushi.
However, when you go outside of Tokyo area, this is called Edomae Chirashi Sushi (江戸前ちらし寿司) or Kaisen Chirashi Sushi (海鮮ちらし寿司) to differentiate the mainstream chirashi sushi, which I’ll talk about next.
(On the side note, when sashimi is placed over regular steamed rice, not vinegared sushi rice, it’s called Kaisen Don (海鮮丼). You can get this menu at non-sushi restaurants. Sushi restaurants make only sushi rice so they only offer sashimi over vinegared sushi rice. Now you know the difference between Kaisen Don and Kaisen Chirashi Sushi – it’s all in the rice.)
Type 2: Chirashi Sushi
Generally Chirashi Sushi or simply Chirashi means “scattered” (=chirashi 散らし) sushi in Japan where the ingredients are mixed in and topped on sushi rice. It’s often vegetarian and if it is not, it usually contains cooked ingredients like cooked unagi rather than raw fish.
Depends on the regions, chirashi sushi is also called Gomoku Sushi (五目寿司), Gomoku Chirashi (五目ちらし), or Bara Sushi (ばら寿司).
Some people in Tokyo area would call this sushi “chirashi sushi” while other people would call it Gomoku Sushi or Gomoku Chirashi to differentiate the other chirashi (Type 1 above).
My mom is originally from Osaka before she moved to Tokyo, so she always calls this type of sushi Bara Sushi, which is the name commonly used in Osaka area.
Ingredients & Topping Choices for Chirashi Sushi
There are many different variations of chirashi sushi, so don’t feel discouraged if you can’t find some ingredients like kanpyo (gourd strips), gobo (burdock root), and lotus root (renkon) in your local Asian grocery stores.
The best part for Chirashi Sushi is that you can omit and swap ingredients as you like. Here are my suggestions for ingredients and toppings that go well for Chirashi Sushi.
Ingredients (that will mix in with sushi rice):
- Bamboo shoot (blanched)
- Inari Age (seasoned deep fried tofu pouch)
- Kamaboko and Chikuwa (fish cakes)
- Koyadofu (seasoned dehydrated tofu)
- Avocado (sliced or cubed)
- Crab (real or immitation)
- Green beans (blanched)
- Kinome (木の芽 (山椒)) – I look for it locally but no luck…
- Octopus (boiled)
- Sakura Denbu (seasoned ground codfish) – pink color adds nice touch for Girl’s Day celebration!
- Tobiko (flying fish roe)
Make Chirashi Sushi for Hinamatsuri & Potluck!
Traditionally, Chirashi Sushi is eaten on Hinamatsuri (雛祭り) or Doll’s Festival on March 3 every year. You can read more about this Japanese custom in this post.
Chirashi Sushi is a very easy type of sushi and does not involve any raw fish. It’s a perfect dish for a big family gatherings and potluck parties!
If you want a quick short cut version, I also share this Chirashi Sushi recipe using Chirashi Sushi Mix.
You can purchase a sushi bowl called Hangiri (or Sushi Oke) on Amazon. My hangiri below is 10″ (26 cm) which is good for a family of 4.
- 4 dried shiitake mushrooms
- ½ cup water (1/2 cup = 120 ml) (for soaking dried shiitake mushrooms)
- 2/3 gobo (burdock root)
- 0.8 oz dried kanpyo (gourd strips) (0.8 oz = 20 g)
- 1 tsp salt (kosher or sea salt) (for rubbing kanpyo)
- ½ carrot
- 1¼ cup dashi (1¼ cup = 300 ml)
- ¼ cup sake (¼ cup = 60 m)
- 3 Tbsp mirin
- 1 Tbsp sugar
- 2 Tbsp soy sauce
- 3 large eggs
- 1 Tbsp sugar (optional)
- 1 Tbsp dashi (or sake or water)
- ¼ tsp salt (kosher or sea salt)
- ½ Tbsp neutral flavor oil (vegetable, canola, etc)
- 6 snow peas
- pinch salt (kosher or sea salt)
- 1 package unagi (eel) (1 package = 160 g)
- 8-10 large shrimp
- 1 Tbsp sake
- pinch salt (kosher or sea salt)
- Gather all the ingredients.
Combine rice vinegar, sugar, and kosher salt in a small saucepan. Bring it to boil and let the sugar dissolved completely. Set aside to cool.
Peel and cut the ginger to julienne strips (thinner the better). Peel the lotus root and cut out the edge to make a flower shape (Read my Hana Renkon tutorial).
Slice the lotus root into 1/8” (3 mm) and soak in vinegar water for 5 minutes to prevent from turning brown (just drop a few rice vinegar in water – doesn’t have to be precise).
Boil water in a small saucepan and blanch the ginger and lotus root for 3 minutes. Drain well and transfer them to the vinegar mixture to marinate. You can make this ahead and keep it up to 1 week in refrigerator.
- Gather all the ingredients.
Soak dried shiitake mushrooms with 1/2 cup water until they are hydrated and tender. Then squeeze the mushrooms and reserve the liquid (= shiitake dashi) in the bowl. Cut off and discard the stem.
Slice the shiitake mushrooms. Strain the reserved shiitake dashi to remove impurities. Save this shiitake dashi until you’re ready to use in Step 8.
Make a criss-cross incision at one end of the gobo. This criss-cross incision will help you shave the gobo like a pencil. Shave into small thin pieces as you rotate the gobo. Soak the cut pieces in water so they won't turn brown. Change the water 1-2 times. Drain right before you start cooking in Step 8.
In a small saucepan, bring water to boil. Quickly rinse the kanpyo in running water and drain. Rub kanpyo with 1 tsp salt. Rinse and drain well.
- When the water is boiling cook kanpyo for 3 minutes. Transfer to iced water to stop cooking process and squeeze water out.
- Cut kanpyo into small pieces and cut the carrot into julienne strips.
Add shiitake mushrooms, gobo, and kanpyo in the pot (keep the carrot aside for now). Add dashi, reserved shiitake dashi (the liquid from hydrating dried shiitake), sake, mirin, sugar, and soy sauce, and bring to simmer on medium heat.
Skim the foam and scum on the surface as much as you can, decrease the heat to simmer, and cover with Otoshibuta (drop lid). This lid ensures that ingredients are submerged under the liquid and flavorful cooking liquid circulates well. You can make one with aluminum foil easily and here's the tutorial.
Add the carrot while there is still liquid in the pot but toward the end of cooking so that you don't overcook carrot and get mushy. Continue to cook with Otoshibuta until the liquid is almost gone. The whole cooking process is about 20-25 minutes depending on the heat. Transfer the Chirashi Sushi Mix to a plate to cool completely. If you end up with some cooking liquid, you can save a little bit so you can season the rice later. You can make this ahead and keep it in the refrigerator up to 3-4 days.
Gather all the ingredients.
Whisk the eggs and add the rest of ingredients into the bowl. Whisk to combine and strain the egg mixture to get silky texture.
- Heat the large non-stick frying pan and grease the pan with paper towel dipped in vegetable oil. Make sure to wipe off the excess oil. When the pan is hot, pour the egg mixture just enough to cover the bottom of the entire fry pan.
Tilt the pan to fill the fry pan with the egg mixture and cover with the lid. Remove from the heat and place the pan on a cold towel to cool the pan so the the egg won't become brown. Once the egg crepe is cooked through, transfer to a wire rack and let cool completely. Continue this process until all the egg mixture is gone.
Roll up the egg crepes and cut thinly into julienned strips. Loosen them up and set aside. You can make this ahead and keep it in the refrigerator up to 2-3 days or freeze up to 4 weeks.
Remove the tough strings along the edges of snow peas. Bring water to boil in a small saucepan. Add pinch of salt and blanch them for 2 minutes. Drain and cut diagonally in half or thirds.
Gather all the ingredients.
Rinse the rice, soak for 30 minutes, and drain (read the tutorial). Put the rice in a rice cooker bowl and add the water till "Sushi" water level (a bit less than regular). Place kombu on top and start cooking. If you don't have a rice cooker, follow this tutorial. Combine the sushi vinegar ingredients in a bowl and mix together. You can microwave or heat the mixture in a saucepan over the stove to dissolve the sugar completely and remove the strong vinegar taste/smell.
Preheat your oven to 400F (200C). As the unagi you purchased is already grilled/broiled, all you need to do is reheat. Place the unagi on a parchment paper or silicone baking sheet and bake for 7-10 minutes. Remove from the oven and let cool. Once it’s cool to touch, you can cut into ¼ inch (0.6 mm) pieces. Set aside.
Using a skewer, devein shrimp without removing shell (see the tutorial). We peel the shell after cooking to retain the flavor of the shrimp. Boil water in a medium saucepan. Once boiling, add sake and shrimp and simmer until pink, about 2-3 minutes. Remove the shell and set aside.
- Start this step when all the steps above are completed. Discard the kombu from sushi rice and transfer to Hangiri (or a large serving platter). If you use hangiri, quickly run water so rice doesn’t stick. Pour sushi vinegar over the rice paddle to evenly distribute sushi vinegar over rice. With the rice paddle, slice the rice at a 45 degree angle to separate the rice instead of mixing. At the same time you need to use a fan to cool rice so the rice will shine and doesn't get mushy.
Once the sushi rice is cooled, squeeze the Chirashi Sushi Mix to remove excess liquid (otherwise rice gets too soggy) and combine with sushi rice. You can always add a few Tbsp of reserved liquid to season the rice if you like (I don't usually do it).
- Gather all the toppings you’ve prepared.
First, spread the shredded egg crepe. Decorate the chirashi sushi as you like. I usually start from lotus root, shrimp, unagi, snow peas, ikura, sesame seeds, and nori in the center. Enjoy!
Equipment you will need:
- Hangiri (Sushi Oke) (or large serving platter)
- Fan (hand held or electric)
Recipe by Namiko Chen of Just One Cookbook. All images and content on this site are copyright protected. Please do not use my images without my permission. If you’d like to share this recipe on your site, please re-write the recipe and link to this post as the original source. Thank you.