Rice

Smoked Mackerel Chirashi Sushi

I know it’s difficult to find sushi-grade fish outside of Japan. However, you don’t have to use raw fish to make sushi dish. You can use cooked or preserved fish or meat, a tin of fish, or smoked fish, which I used in this recipe.

I use smoked mackerel for this recipe, which is widely available everywhere in the UK.

This style of sushi dish is called chirashi, meaning ‘scattered’. Sushi rice is mixed with a few ingredients, typically cooked and seasoned vegetables, and the main ingredients are scattered on the rice.

I even cheated by using a ready-made chirashi sushi base mix product, which you can buy in the Japanese food section at most oriental grocery shops. If you can’t find any, just add sushi vinegar instead. Please refer to Key 1 below for that recipe.

There is no forming nor rolling involved in this recipe. The only technique required is mixing! So it’s fantastically easy to make and it tastes as good as any other type of sushi dish. If you are a novice at sushi-making, try this recipe first!

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Key

  1. If you don’t have the chirashi sushi rice mixture, just use 6 tbs of a bottled sushi vinegar, or make your own sushi vinegar by mixing 6 tbs of rice vinegar or white wine vinegar, 5 tbs of sugar and 1.5 tsp of salt.
  2. Because this is a simple sushi recipe, tasty cooked rice is vital. Draining the washed rice until the grains at the surface becomes dry makes a big difference in its taste. Don’t forget the steaming process as well. Please refer to my recipe for how to cook perfect rice.
  3. If you have time, grill or bake the smoked mackerel beforehand. This process makes the fish taste nicer.
  4. You can find how to toast sesame seeds here in the preparation section 3. Use plenty for this recipe.

Topic: What is chirashi sushi

Chirashi sushi is a style of sushi with several kinds of ingredients scattered on, or mixed in sushi rice, hence the name ‘chirashi’ (scattered in Japanese).

Although chirashi sushi is much easier to make than Nigiri or sushi rolls, it looks colourful and beautiful as it use variety of ingredients. Therefore, chirashi sushi is often served on a celebration day at home, most notably ‘Girls’ day’ or ‘Hinamatsuri’ on the 3rd March when we celebrate and pray for the health and happiness of girls.

In Japan, chirashi sushi is a popular dish for home cooking, so there are many kinds of ready-made base mixture products on sale. They typically consist of cooked and seasoned lotus root, carrot, kampyo (dried gourd strips), bamboo shoot, and shiitake mushroom in sushi vinegar.

Chirashi sushi is said to have been developed during the Edo era in Okayama prefecture. After horrific floods and a resulting food shortage, Mitsumasa Ikeda, the feudal lord of Okayama, issued rules restricting his people to only one soup and one side dish with rice for each meal. So people invented this way of eating lots of nice things by placing them at the bottom of a sushi tub and covering them with sushi rice. When it was safe to eat, they put them upside down and feasted. Ingenious! Their sushi is called Bara sushi which is now one of their local delicacies in Okayama prefecture.

Reference: https://ja.wikipedia.org/wiki/%E3%81%A1%E3%82%89%E3%81%97%E5%AF%BF%E5%8F%B8 (Japanese)

How to cook perfect Japanese rice using a rice cooker

I know that most western people think plain white rice is boring, but we Japanese absolutely love it. Whether you want to serve with a main course, make sushi rolls or a Japanese style lunch box, cooking perfect white rice is crucial. If you cook rice quite regularly, investing in a rice cooker is a good idea, as it guarantees to cook perfect rice every time. After pressing a switch, you can forget about it until it’s done, plus you don’t have to spend a fortune on it – a simple rice cooker is inexpensive and works just fine.

Ingredients for 6 small portions

270g Sushi rice

300ml water

Method

  1. Wash the rice in a bowl. You can use the inner bowl of a rice cooker; just add water in a bowl and give a few stirs with your hand.
  2. Pour out the milky water; gently tilt the bowl and slowly pour the water out. You can use a sieve to drain the water instead.
  3. Repeat the washing and draining 5 times, then transfer to a sieve to drain.
  4. Add the washed rice and water in the inner bowl of a rice cooker. Give it a stir and start cooking.
  5. After the cooking process has finished, allow cooked rice to steam for 10-15minutes, and then serve immediately.

Onigiri; Japanese rice balls with tuna, chive and ginger

Onigiri, also known as a rice ball, is made of rice often wrapped in a nori seaweed sheet. Because of its portability, onigiri is a popular choice for lunch or a snack, just like a sandwich.

Although you can buy them in shops throughout Japan, onigiri is associated with the nostalgic conception of handmade with love, therefore it’s still regarded as the soul food of Japan.

Use sushi rice or Japanese rice, as they are sticky and stay moist even when cooled down, so the onigiri keeps its shape and remains tasty.

Ingredients for 6 Onigiri (approx. 100g each)

270g Sushi rice

½ tsp salt

300ml water

95g tin of tuna in oil (after squeeze out excess oil from the tuna)

30g chives (finely chopped)

10g ginger (grated)

6 sheets of nori seaweed (cut large sheet to the size that can just wrap the rice ball)

Method

1. Wash the rice in a bowl. You can use the inner bowl of a rice cooker.

*Just add water in a bowl and give a few stirs with your hand.

2. Pour out the milky water.

*Gently tilt the bowl and slowly pour the water out. You can use a sieve to drain the water instead.

3. Repeat the washing and draining 5 times, then transfer to a sieve to drain.

4. Add the washed rice, water and salt in the inner bowl of a rice cooker. Give it a stir and start cooking.

5. After the cooking process has finished, allow cooked rice to steam for 10-15minutes. Add the tuna, ginger and chive, and then mix well. Let the rice cool slightly.

6. Divide the rice, each portion weighing 100g. Form them into a ball shape using both your palms, pressing gently and lightly.

*For a triangular shape, use your palms as a mould by bending your finger from your knuckles on your right hand, and straighten your left hand. Rotate the rice a few times while pressing.

7. Wrap the rice ball with a sheet of nori seaweed.