Ingredients, dishes and drinks from Japan by Ad Blankestijn

Saturday, June 16, 2012


Garnished sushi. ちらし寿司。

We could also call it "Sushi rice topped with assorted ingredients." A bowl or plate of sushi rice (sushimeshi) covered with slices of many different kinds of raw or marinated fish, vegetables. mushroom, shredded omelet. etc. as a topping. The name literally means "scattered sushi."

There is a difference between chirashizushi from Tokyo and Osaka: the Tokyo version emphatically include fresh raw fish, while in Osaka raw fish is not used, but only a selection of vegetables, shredded omelet, unagi, shrimp, smoked salmon and salmon roe. . Moreover, the slices of raw fish are quite large - the same size as the toppings use on finger sushi. And in Western Japan the ingredients are cut finely and then mixed with the sushi rice. The Osaka version is also called barazushi (also meaning "scattered sushi"), or gomokuzushi, "five item sushi," pointing at the large number of ingredients (although not necessarily five!). 

The color combination is important here and the scattering over the rice of the ingredients should be quite artistic. Shredded omelet is used for yellow, cucumber for green, kani sticks for orange, etc. Nori and pickled ginger may also be used.

Barazushi of Yaki-Anago and Ikura
[Barazushi with grilled conger eel (anago) and ikura (salmon eggs). Photo Ad Blankestijn]

The selection of the ingredients is very wide-ranging. The dish is usually named after one or two of the main ingredients, as in the above picture.

Traditionally, chirashizushi is served at the Doll's festival on March 3, but they are of course eaten the year round.

Chirashizushi is eaten with chopsticks. Chirashizushi are a favorite for box lunches; you can buy them in supermarkets; and you can unleash your fantasy when cooking this dish at home - it is the easiest sushi to prepare as you do not need any chef's skills in rolling or squeezing.