Since New Year’s Day is really the only Japanese holiday I celebrated growing up, it’s the one most familiar and comforting to me. One of the dishes that is a constant on the Namimoto New Year table is ちらし鮨, chirashi sushi or scattered sushi. This beautiful, colorful dish is made of sushi rice with celebratory toppings sprinkled on top. It’s traditionally served in a hangiri, a round, flat-bottomed barrel made of cypress wood and bound with two copper bands. Since dungeness crab is in season over New Year in the San Francisco Bay area, I add a layer of the rich, succulent crab meat to my scattered sushi in place of flaked fish and shrimp. I recommend you do the same based on what’s available locally and seasonally in your area!
Want to hear more about Japanese cuisine and culture? On our new podcast Counterjam—a show that explores culture through food and music—host Peter J. Kim talks sushi stereotypes and the intergenerational immigrant hustle with comedian Yumi Nagashima, rapper G Yamazawa, and producer Dan the Automator—check out the episode here. —Kristin Eriko Posner
- Prep time 1 hour
- Cook time 1 hour
- Serves 6
- Rice and Rice Dressing Ingredients
short grain white sushi rice
inch square piece of konbu seaweed
rice vinegar (for the rice dressing)
white sugar (for the rice dressing)
sea salt (for the rice dressing)
- Rice Topping Ingredients
serving kinishi tamago. Note that I don't add any sugar and use sake instead of dashi
shelled and cooked dungeness crab
lotus root sliced into flower shape
ikura salmon roe
handful of lightly cooked snow peas cut in half on the diagonal
black and white sesame seeds
- Wash sushi rice and strain three times. Place rice and filtered water in a rice cooker (you can also cook rice on the stove if you don’t have a rice cooker), add konbu to the rice and water mixture. Let soak for 20 minutes and begin cooking.
- Prepare kinshi tamago, lotus root, snow peas and dressing.
- Right before serving, transfer the rice to a hangiri or large shallow serving bowl. If you can have another person help you fan the rice, that would be idea.
- Begin fanning the rice as you add the dressing mixture, little by little. Mix gently with a rice paddle using a cutting motion, so as not to smash the rice grains. Keep doing this until all the dressing is used and it has absorbed mostly into the rice. You’ll find that the shiny layer of dressing at the bottom of the bowl starts to disappear.
- Create an even surface of rice. Begin placing the toppings artfully as pictured or as desired. Bring the large dish to the table to be enjoyed family style!
- Note: this recipe is made much easier with a few special tools: Japanese fan (you can fold one one out of paper if you don’t have one or use thick card stock or even a manila envelope), rice cooker or pot to cook rice, Hangiri or large shallow serving bowl