Sushi often feels daunting to make at home, especially if its unfamiliar to you. But in reality, as long as you aren’t striving for master sushi chef level nigiri—a thin slice of fish laid on a mound of rice—and rolls, it’s easy. For me, sushi is a social thing—I buy sashimi grade fish, make the sushi rice, and have friends over to make nigiri and rolls together while we drink sake.
But when I’m alone, chirashi sushi is much easier and quicker. It means “scattered sushi” in Japanese. It has all the flavors and components of sushi, without the fuss of forming rolls.
Chirashi is similar to a Hawaiian poke bowl, but it takes less time to make because the fish isn’t dressed. It’s a great go-to weeknight meal, as you can prepare the toppings while the rice cooks. Then, season the cooked rice, add the toppings, and you have a restaurant-quality meal in about 30 minutes.
Styles of Chirashi
Each region of Japan has its own style of chirashi. Here are two typical styles:
- Edomai or Kanto-style chirashi from the Kanto region of Tokyo has a variety of toppings on simply seasoned sushi rice. This recipe is a Kanto-style chirashi with seasoned sushi rice and an array of toppings.
- Gomoku or Kansai-style chirashi from the Kansai region of Kyoto and Nara mix carrots, burdock root, lotus root, and dried shiitake mushrooms into the rice in addition to toppings.
Don’t confuse this recipe with kaisen don, a Japanese rice bowl topped with seafood and other ingredients. Chirashi uses seasoned sushi rice, while kaisen don calls for plain white rice.
How to Buy and Prepare Raw Fish
Chirashi sushi does not have to have raw fish on it. Sushi refers to the rice itself, and not the raw fish on top. This recipe does call for raw fish as a topping. Buy sashimi or sushi-grade fish. I source it from a local Japanese grocery store that sells fish labeled as sashimi or sushi-grade. I've seen Whole Foods and my local grocery store carry them too. Be sure to purchase your fish from a reliable fishmonger or fish market—specifically ask for fish suitable for sashimi or sushi. It should be high quality— frozen to a specific temperature to destroy any potential parasites, and it’s suitable for eating raw.
When cutting raw fish, use a sharp knife and slice it using one smooth motion. Don’t press the knife straight down or roughly saw it back and forth. You will smash or tear the delicate flesh. Either slice it into thick slabs or smaller cubes.
Topping Ideas for Chirashi
An assortment of toppings, from cooked or raw shellfish, fish, and vegetables to eggs and roe can go on a chirashi bowl. Garnishes are often called for, like black sesame seeds, shredded nori, or microgreens.
Here are some common toppings:
- Sashimi grade fish: My favorites are salmon, tuna, and hamachi (yellowtail), but pick your favorite fish.
- Shellfish: steamed shrimp, clams, or mussels, real or imitation crab, unagi (eel), or cooked octopus or squid
- Vegetables: avocado, snow peas, edamame, cucumber, carrots, lotus root, burdock root, bamboo shoots, asparagus, daikon, fried tofu, scallions, seasoned mushrooms, or edible flowers
- Garnish: Ikura (salmon roe), tobiko (flying fish roe), black or white sesame seeds, microgreens, shiso leaf, shredded nori, furikake, or pickled ginger
- Egg: Tamagoyaki (rolled omelette) or usuyaki tamago (thinly shredded omelette)
Delicious Meals in Bowls
4 extra-jumbo unpeeled shrimp (about 3 ounces)
1 ounce snow peas
2 cups cooked sushi rice
8 ounces sashimi-grade salmon, tuna, or yellow tail, cut into 1/4-inch cubes or slices
4 slices tamagoyaki
6 thin slices English cucumber (about 1/8 cucumber)
1/4 cup microgreens (any kind)
2 whole shiso leaves (optional)
Shredded nori, to garnish
Soy sauce, to serve
Wasabi, to serve
Steam the shrimp and snow peas:
Add about 1 inch of water in a pot large enough to hold a steamer basket inside. Add the steamer basket in the pot, making sure the water doesn’t touch the bottom of it. Place the shrimp and snow peas in the basket. Set the pot over high heat and bring it up to a boil. As soon as it comes to a boil, lower the heat to a simmer, cover the pot, and let steam for 4 minutes until the shrimp is pink and opaque and the snow peas are tender and bright green.
Meanwhile, assemble the chirashi:
Divide the rice into 2 bowls. Arrange the sashimi, tamagoyaki, cucumbers, microgreens, and shiso, if using, on top of each bowl.
When the shrimp is cool enough to handle, peel and add 2 into each bowl along with the snow peas.
Garnish and serve:
Garnish each bowl with shredded nori and serve immediately with soy sauce and wasabi on the side for dipping the sashimi into.
Chirashi should be consumed right away since it has raw fish on top.
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|Nutrition Facts (per serving)|
|Amount per serving|
|% Daily Value*|
|Total Fat 25g||32%|
|Saturated Fat 6g||28%|
|Total Carbohydrate 59g||21%|
|Dietary Fiber 1g||2%|
|Total Sugars 12g|
|Vitamin C 20mg||99%|
|*The % Daily Value (DV) tells you how much a nutrient in a food serving contributes to a daily diet. 2,000 calories a day is used for general nutrition advice.|