Yesterday, I made a bento of vegetarian chirashizushi (scattered sushi). Chirashizushi is perhaps the least known type of sushi in the UK, as many associate sushi with dainty bite-sized morsels of rice and fish. Chirashizushi is easy to make, requires minimal cooking, and can be easily adapted to suit various dietary needs. It is assembled from vinegared rice and a variety of colourful toppings (commonly fish and fish roe). This is my take (vegetarian, of course) on the chirashizushi.
The centrepiece of my bento is my homage to the humble sushi rice. Often the chirashizushi is chock-full of toppings that you can hardly see the most important ingredient, the rice… without which, there would be no sushi! I chose Mini (Chibi) Totoro, a Studio Ghibli character, as it is cute, white, and fluffy… just like perfectly cooked rice. Chibi Totoro is Big Totoro’s littlest ‘cousin’ in the film My Neighbour Totoro.
Here’s the recipe:
Ingredients (serves 2):
- 1 cup of Japanese short grain rice or Calrose
- 1 1/2 tbsp of rice wine vinegar
- 1/3 tbsp of sugar
- 1/2 tsp of fine sea salt
- 1 tsp of furikake of choice (savoury rice sprinkles) – optional
- 4-6 large shiitake mushrooms, reconstituted in 1 cup of water
- 1 tsp of light soy sauce
- 1 tsp of mirin (sweet cooking sake)
- 6-8 baby carrots or 1/2 a medium carrot, cut into strips
- 2 eggs, beaten
- a good handful of chopped spring onions / scallions
- a handful of mukimame (shelled edamame)
- 2 sweet baby red peppers, julienned
- a pinch of nori strips or kizami nori
- red pepper, julienned
- half an avocado, peeled, pitted, and sliced
1. Pour rice into rice cooker. Add some water. Use your hand and swish rice in water, gently rubbing the grains together to ‘exfoliate’. Drain water. Repeat process several times until water is clear. Then add water (rice:water ratio is 1:1.25). Turn on rice cooker and let rice cook.
2. Coat a small pan evenly with a little oil. Use paper towel to distribute oil evenly and to absorb excess. Heat pan. When pan is heated, pour in beaten egg and make your omelette. You should be able to make about 4 thin omelettes. Cut omelettes into thin strips (0.5 cm-ish).
3. Slice shiitake and remove stems. Heat 1/2 cup of the water used for reconstituting the mushrooms in a skillet. Add sliced mushrooms, soy sauce, and mirin. Simmer on low heat until water is reduced.
4. In a small sauce pan, add rice vinegar, sugar, and salt and heat on low heat. When the sugar and salt has dissolved, remove from heat and let cool. Spread out rice on a large glass or ceramic dish. Then add vinegar mix to rice bit by bit and fold rice quickly (careful not to mash). Fan the rice whilst doing this.
5. Divide rice into two bowls or bento boxes. Scatter (by scatter I mean artfully arrange :P) toppings onto rice. Serve! 🙂
- Square box from Daiso
- Nori punch from AllThingsForSale
- Small bottle cap