In Australia, ‘having sushi’ usually means chowing down on those typical seaweed wrapped rolls that we’ve come to embrace today as a healthy lunch option. However, those rolls (Nori Maki – or ‘seaweed wrapped’) are only just one type of sushi. In fact, sushi is simply a broad term to describe any type of dish that uses seasoned sushi rice. If it doesn’t have sushi rice in it, it’s technically not sushi. A plate of raw salmon is most definitely not sushi; it’s sashimi. And those carb-free rolls of smoked salmon wrapped in cucumber? Ingenious, but not sushi!
One form of sushi that I love very much is Chirashi Zushi, or ‘scattered’ sushi. It’s thus called as the ingredients are scattered through and on top of the sushi rice. Call it free-form sushi if you will but it’s by no means a lazy sushi alternative; Chirashi Zushi is a celebrated dish for special occasions, especially when the ingredients used are super gourmet.
As I’m taking part in the Huon Bloggers Challenge (#huonsalmon), I’ve had those such super gourmet ingredients sent to me. Last week, I started off by using Huon’s hot smoked salmon (check out my Smoked Salmon and Kiri Cheese Buns), and for this recipe I decided to try Huon’s hot smoked ocean trout and delectable, hand-milked salmon roe. Yep! Just like a cow, Huon’s salmon are milked which saves them from the chopping block just to get the roe.
Salmon roe (ikura in Japanese), is probably not to everyone’s taste but I rather suspect it’s because most people don’t know how to serve it. If anything, salmon roe is simply a larger caviar but with oodles more flavour and the key is to use it sparingly. You admittedly do need to have a fondness for seafood to really appreciate it but for me, salmon roe is the bees knees and I don’t use it sparingly. Receiving a jar of Huon’s salmon roe was like New Year’s in Japan. I never saw so much of it in one container before, back home in Australia :)
With such moist, delicious trout and caviar on hand, I simply had to make a Chirashi Zushi. I immediately cooked up some rice which I prepared with ‘Sushi no Ko’ powder to make sushi rice. You can certainly make sushi rice by scratch with a dressing of 3 tablespoons of rice wine vinegar, 2 tablespoons sugar, and 1 teaspoon salt, but if you are not confident with making sushi rice or if you’re short on time, do as any other Japanese home cook does and keep some ‘Sushi no Ko’ in your pantry. ‘Sushi no Ko’ is just a powdered version of the dressing so it uses the existing moisture of the cooked rice to impart the flavour without the glug. Too easy!
I also prepared some soy simmered vegetables to scatter through the rice. Most vegetables will do but carrots, snow peas, shiitake mushroom, bamboo and beans are commonly used. I cooked up some carrots, green beans and lotus root. Once the vegetables were mixed through I gently tossed through some flakes of smoked ocean trout. I wondered if I should have used the smoked salmon again to match the salmon roe but although it had a distinctly different flavour and texture, the trout was simply amazing with rice.
Once my scattered sushi rice cooled down to room temperatures, I served up a bowl and topped it with shredded egg, salmon roe and shredded nori. I also happened to have some seasoned rice topping in shiso (perilla – a sublime herb plant, uncommon in Australia) flavour which finished things off very nicely. Even if you aren’t keen on the salmon roe or other toppings, the sushi rice is delicious on its own and you can even place some in sheets of nori to make your own hand-rolled sushi. Elaborate or simple, scattered sushi makes a perfect meal.
Disclaimer – Please note that Huon Aqua provided their products at no cost to the blogger, upon her acceptance to participate in the Huon Bloggers Challenge.
- 3 eggs
- 1 tbsp sugar
- 1 tbsp each of sake/dashi/water
- 1 tsp corn starch (helps keep crepes from breaking)
- ¼ tsp salt
- 1 carrot, peeled and cut into thin lengths
- ⅓ green beans, top and tailed, and cut diagonally into small pieces
- 8-10 lotus root slices, not too big (can be bought frozen from Asian Grocers)
- ¾ cup water
- 2 tbsp soy sauce
- 1 tbsp mirin
- 1 tbsp sugar
- 1 tbsp dashi (Japanese stock - vegetable stock can be used in place)
- 2 cups of steamed rice
- 1 tbsp of 'Sushi No Ko' or dressing as described in blog
- Egg Crepe: Beat the eggs with the whisk in a small bowl and add the rest of ingredients until well combined. Ensure that the mixture is as smooth as possible. If lumps are present, it's best to pass the mixture through a sieve.
- Heat a non-stick pan (a crepe pan is perfect!) on medium heat. Spray with cooking oil and prepare a baking rack nearby and place some slightly moistened kitchen paper over the rack.
- Pour a small amount of the egg mixture onto the pan and spread thinly by swirling the pan. I don't see why you couldn't use a crepe batter spreader here. You may not get the right thickness right off but there's enough egg mixture to practice with.
- Before the egg crepe browns, take pan off heat and set aside. You can either flip the crepe over to cook the other side, or place a lid over the pan and allow the steam to cook crepe through.
- Transfer crepe to paper covered rack to keep moist. When all crepes are done, roll each crepe up and cut into thin noodles. Eggs will keep for a week.
- Simmered Vegetables: In a small saucepan, place all ingredients other than vegetables inside. Simmer on low heat until sugar has mostly dissolved.
- Add vegetables and simmer on low heat for 10 minutes or until vegetables are soft but still have some firmness.
- Drain and set aside to cool.
- Scattered Sushi: Prepare 2 cups of rice by preferred method. It's ideal to make rice in a rice cooker.
- Once cooked, transfer rice to a large tray. Sprinkle one tablespoon of Sushi No Ko powder over rice and using a rice spatula or similar, turn the rice over itself to spread the powder around and at the same time releasing the steam from the rice. If you are using traditional dressing as mentioned above, you will need to work faster. Take care to not handle the rice too much either or it will turn into mush.
- Once bulk of steam has escaped and the rice is well seasoned, allow to reach room temperature.
- Once at room temperature, add the simmered vegetables and stir through the rice well. Add about 50 - 80g of flaked Huon's hot smoked ocean trout to the rice mixture, taking care not to handle the trout too much or it will break down into tiny flakes.
- Chirashi Zushi is best served closer to room temperature than cold. If serving later, it's fine to refrigerate but I recommend taking it out of the fridge about 30 minutes before serving (depending on how much you have in a bowl).
- Chirashi Zushi is great on its own but for a traditional presentation, top a large bowl of sushi with shredded egg, Huon's salmon roe and shredded roasted nori (exactly the same for rolled sushi but cut into thin ribbons with scissors. There is no