Something you should know about me, I love food from other countries. If Josh and I are gong out to eat, we eat ethnic foods about 75% of the time. It’s cheaper and much more interesting. And not only is the food tasty but the stories and cultural traditions behind the food are always intriguing to me as well. This deconstructed sushi recipe is actually called, Chirashi Sushi (Garnished Sushi), and the beautiful dish is an authentic Japanese recipe from my friend Yuki.
One of the highlights of my weekly routine is getting to teach ESL (English as a Second Language) to 15 women from all over the world. I teach four hours a week but we like to get together regularly cook and share a meal with one another . One of our last cooking adventures included two Japanese recipes from one of my students. She taught us all how to cook Chirashi Sushi and Pork Miso Soup. They were both delicious. The sushi required a lot of chopping as do many Japanese dishes. One of the other women in my class gave me a good explanation of Asian foods that stuck with me:
Japanese Food is the art of chopping
Korean Food is the art of handling
Chinese Food is the art of fire
I’m not sure if I got the quote exactly right but you get the point. And we did a lot of chopping for this dish. I also quickly discovered that I am not a skilled chopper. Many of the women, giggled at my lack of chopping skills or tried to help me by taking my knife away. But the beautiful thing about all of the chopping was that each of us played a role in making this dish. And as we chopped, we talked… about the foods we like, where we shop for groceries, and different cultural traditions surrounding food.
The recipe looks complicated but don’t be intimidated. Its actually not that difficult: cook rice, cook vegetables, mix vegetables with rice. The part that looks hard is that each vegetable has a specific way of being cooked. They all share similar cooking ingredients: vinegar, soy sauce, sugar, mirin, stock, and salt. Also, in Japanese fashion, I have very detailed instructions for you so you don’t have to worry about getting it wrong. I did however eliminate the step of chopping the carrot in such a way to make it into a flower. You’re welcome for that.
This recipe for deconstructed sushi is much more than an Americanized ‘sushi bowl’, the flavors and style of cooking of this dish originate in Japan. You can tell by the ingredients like mirin, a Japanese sweet cooking wine, and lotus root (one of my favorite Japanese vegetables), both can be found at the Oriental food market in town.
Chirashi Sushi is a party dish for times of celebration in Japanese culture. Think of it like cake or champagne in our culture. Japanese families cook this for visitors, birthday celebrations, or graduations. There is also a special event call ‘Hinamaturi,’ a day to celebrate health of young women, on March 3rd, for which this dish will certainly be a part of the food spread. Ironically, we made this dish around that day and ate it along with a group of young women. We didn’t even know we were celebrating!
This is a traditional Japanese dish dating back from the old days of Japan. The recipe I’m giving you is actually the most common recipe and there are many other varieties of Chirashi Sushi. I imagine it’s best enjoyed while sitting at a kotatsu (Japanese heated table), but if you’re like me and don’t have one of those at your home, eat this dish while snuggling up under your favorite cozy blanket on the couch.
I hope you enjoy the recipe. Stay tuned for more fun ethnic recipes, my ESL class made Mexican food most recently!
Deconstructed Sushi Recipe (Chirashi Sushi)
- 1 1/2 cups rice, use regular U.S. white rice
- 1 2/3 cups water
- 4 inch konbu kelp
- 1/5 cup vinegar
- 2 tablespoons sugar
- 1/2 tsp salt
Chirashi Sushi Bowls
- Vinegared Rice cooked
- 4 dried shiitake mushrooms
- 1/2 carrot
- 1/2 lotus root
- 8-10 snow peas
- 2 eggs
- 1 cup vegetable stock
- 2 tablespoons + 2 teaspoons sugar
- 1 tablespoon + 1 tsp mirin, sweet cooking sake
- 1 tablespoon soy sauce
- 2 tablespoons vinegar
- vegetable oil to grease a small frying pan
- sushi grade tuna, shrimp, or chicken
- Wash the rice 30 minutes prior to cooking, then drain. Soak the konbu kelp with the rice and 1 2/3 cup of water for about 30 minutes in the rice cooker or pot (not cooking just soaking).
- Put the vinegar, sugar, salt into a small pot and heat slightly until dissolved. Set the vinegar dressing aside for after the rice is cooked.
- Remove the konbu kelp from the rice and turn on the rice cooker and cook or cook over stove top. When rice is finished cooking, keep covered and let stand for 10 minutes until the grains are settled. Transfer rice to a *wooden sushi bowl or other bowl. Sprinkle the vinegar dressing over the rice.
- Using a flat wooden spoon, toss the rice by making horizontal cutting strokes (this is so the rice breaks up but doesn't become mush). When tossing is complete, cover the rice with a clean cloth.
- Break the the egg into a small bowl and beat until yellow is broken. Add 1 tsp sugar and a pinch of salt. Coat a small frying pan with vegetable oil then pour in the beaten egs and make a paper thin omelet, flipping to cook both sides. Set aside when finished. When cool, folk and cut into julienne strips.
- Soak the shiitake mushrooms in cold water for 30 minutes to 1 hr, to soften, then remove stems. Put 1/3 cup of stock, 2 tablespoons of sugar, and mushrooms into a small pan over low heat for 5 minutes. Add 1 tablespoon of mirin and 1 tablespoon of soy sauce, then simmer until liquid is almost evaporated. When cool, cut the mushrooms into 1/8 inch by 1/8 inch squares.
- Peel the carrot and cut in half crosswise. Cut into about 1/16 inch wide julienne strips. Place 1/3 cup of stock, 1 teaspoon of sugar, a pinch of salt, and 1 teaspoon of mirin with the carrot strips into a pot and simmer on low until tender.
- Peel the lotus root and slice thinly. Cut the slice into half moons or quarter rounds. Immerse them in vinegar water. Boil briefly, and while hot soak into a seasoning liquid of 3 tablespoons of stock, 2 tablespoons of vinegar, 1 tablespoon of sugar and a pinch of salt.
- String the snow peas, boil briefly in boiling salt water and rinse in cold water. Cut in half (displaying the peas inside).
- Mix vegetables with vinegared rice. Scatter the eggs over the rice and decorate with snow peas.