Have you ever seen really boxy shaped sushi? I mean really boxy. Like the rice and fish is pressed together so firmly that it almost looks like it’s made out of lego bricks. Then it must be “Oshi-zushi.”
Oshi-zushi, or sometimes “Oshi-sushi”, (means “pressed sushi”) is made by lining the bottom of a box with the toppings, covering them with sushi rice, and then pressing the lid of the mold down really hard to make a compact block. Toppings vary but no raw fish for oshi-zushi! Oshi-zushi was invented to last long so toppings are usually cooked food like smoked fish or marinated fish. Usually a wooden mold called “oshi-bako” (means “pressing box”) is used for traditional oshi-zushi but it’s very common to use regular household products to make them in Japan.
I’ve done a how-to on another super easy sushi in “How to make temari-zushi” but this sushi is even easier and REQUIRES NO SKILLS AT ALL! Yet, it still looks very impressive, so I thought I’d share it with you.
How to make oshi-zushi (with smoked salmon)
You can use any sturdy container such as tupperware or a simple cake mold. In fact, I’ve used a round cake mold to make “sushi cake” before (see “non-bento #6: Real rice cake” “Eye of Jupiter sushi cake”) But this time, I wanted to make more traditional looking (very boxy) oshi-zushi, so I used a milk carton.
- a milk cartoon
1. Cut one side of a milk carton, wash it thoroughly and dry.
2. Staple the side closed. Now you have a mold!
[Toppings: Food that goes on top]
I used a package of smoked salmon for two cartons worth of oshi-zushi this time but instead of smoked salmon, you can use avocado, cooked seafood, egg sheet (thin omelet) but if the food is too bulky it’s going to be harder to cut so keep the topping flat and thin. Even though it’s a kind of sushi, I would NOT recommend using raw fish. Raw fish is too delicate for all the pressing.
There are couple of different ways to make sushi rice. I made 3 cups of rice (measured uncooked) and used two cartons of oshi-zushi. There’s no rule for how much rice you have to use but you’re going to be pressing the rice pretty hard so you’ll be needing decent amount of rice.
- Make sushi rice with regular white vinegar and sugar. (See “how to make sushi rice”)
- Make sushi rice with sushi rice powder. (See “sushi night”)
- Make sushi rice with sushi rice vinegar. (You can get it any Asian supermarket.)
1. Line plastic wrap inside the milk carton.
2. Put smoked salmon at the bottom of the box. Make sure to fill the entire bottom.
3. Put sushi rice on top of the salmon. Be generous and fill it up with rice! I used a cup and a half of rice (measured uncooked) for one carton.
4. Cover the rice with plastic wrap, and press the rice down with anything flat and hard. I used a palm of my hand to press it down. If your hand doesn’t fit inside the box, use any hard flat thing to press the rice down.
Don’t be shy and USE YOUR WEIGHT TO PRESS IT AS HARD AS YOU CAN. The harder you press the sushi rice, the neater the final oshi-zushi will look. Also if you don’t press it down hard enough, the rice will fall apart and it’s going to be hard to cut.
5. Keep it covered with the plastic wrap and put it the fridge for as long as you want. You can eat it right away if it’s pressed well, but I’d keep it in the fridge for at least 30 minutes so that the rice WILL be firm. If you want to prepare this for the next day, make sure the rice is kept sealed so it won’t dry out.
Sometime people even put a huge rock on top of the wooden oshi-zushi mold, and leave it in the fridge overnight! That’s how firm you want the rice to be.
6. Take the box out the fridge, flip the box upside down to take the rice out of the box.
7. Wipe the blade of a very sharp knife with wet paper towel, and cut the oshi-zushi. Make sure to wet the blade after each cut.
TIPS: For some strange reason, I’m using a very short knife in the photo, but I recommend a longer knife. I find it it’s easier to place the knife on the top, lightly cut it with a pull just a little bit, and in one quick motion, cut it away with a push.
8. You can eat it as is, but you can also put toppings to make them look pretty!
You can also put a layer of food (such as avocado, cucumber, cream cheese, egg sheet, etc…) between layers of sushi rice to make two layered oshi-zushi.
You can eat it as is, but I like mine with soy sauce and wasabi.
Because you can make this dish in advance, even the night before, it’s great food serve at a grown-up party.
All the photos for “How to make oshi-zushi (with smoked salmon)” are on my flickr too!
How to make oshi-zushi (on my flickr)
If you have any questions about any of my how-to’s, please feel free to leave a comment or email me!