Sushi for dinner is even more appealing when it’s served up in a bowl with jade sushi rice, succulent salmon, crisp veggies and, of course, spicy mayo.
Sushi bowls are basically deconstructed sushi rolls, complete with sticky rice, fish, veggies, nori, and spicy mayo. They’re healthy and quick to make, and it’s a great way to enjoy the sushi experience at home without all the fuss. I love them because you can go ultra minimal and just plop some salmon over sushi rice and slather it all with spicy mayo (yum) ~ or you can get as elaborate as you want. Works both ways. And Japanese food is always such a refreshing change of pace…I never feel like I’ve eaten too much after a Japanese meal!
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are sushi bowls authentically Japanese?
Sushi bowls, aka poke bowls or sushi donburi, are not traditionally a Japanese dish. Recently, though, they’ve become popular in Japan where they’re called “chirashi-zushi”, which translates to “scattered sushi”.
Chirashi-zushi is a type of sushi that is made by scattering toppings such as raw fish, egg, and vegetables over a bowl of seasoned sushi rice. The toppings may vary depending on the region, but typically include ingredients such as tuna, salmon, shrimp, cucumber, and tamagoyaki (Japanese omelette).
ingredients to have on hand for our salmon sushi bowls
- cooked salmon
- I chose cooked fish for my sushi bowls, but you can definitely go with sushi grade raw fish if you like.
- short grain rice
- look for rice labeled “short-grain rice” or “sushi rice”. For this dish you’ll mix the rice with rice wine vinegar, salt, and sugar for classic sushi rice.
- fresh veggies
- I used carrots, cucumber, radishes, scallions and avocado.
- crispy seaweed
- furikake seasoning
- look for this classic Japanese seasoning blend in the International section of your supermarket, Asian grocery stores, or online.
- spicy mayo
- a mixture of mayo, sriracha, salt and a little rice wine vinegar.
how to build a sushi bowl
- jade sushi rice is short grain rice that has been infused with bamboo extract which adds a subtle flavor and aroma to the rice, along with that beautiful tint of green. Look for it in the rice section of your supermarket, the brand I usually see is Lotus. Of course you can use regular short grain sushi rice for this recipe, too.
- I’m using cooked salmon that I break into flakes. Sushi bowls are a great way to use leftover fish, or to stretch an expensive protein like salmon further.
- Japanese cucumbers are small and thin skinned and perfect for a sushi bowl. You can use English, Persian, or pickling cukes. You can get a head start on your sushi bowls by prepping the veggies ahead of time. Slice them and keep refrigerated, covered with a wet paper towel.
- The Japanese love radishes but if you find them a bit spicy, you might try giving them a quick pickle treatment. Just cover them with rice vinegar, and season with salt and a little sugar. Let them sit while you assemble your sushi bowls.
- Carrots can be cut in matchsticks, sliced, or shredded. Just make sure they’re not chunky: everything in a sushi bowl should be cut into delicate pieces.
- Ripe avocado adds a dose of healthy fats which helps the bowl feel more satisfying. Dose it with lemon juice to keep it from browning.
- I find that shredding crispy seaweed snack wafers is the best way to add that wonderful nori flavor into sushi bowls. Look for them in the Asian or International section of your store. Ditto furikake (to “sprinkle over” in Japanese) which is a seasoning blend of dried fish, sesame seeds, chopped seaweed, sugar, salt, and sometimes other flavorings like bonito flakes or shiso.
- The idea of using spicy mayo as a condiment for sushi is an American innovation, probably started during the sushi boom in the 1980s and 1990s. It was most likely created as a way to appeal to the American palate. Somebody had a good idea here ~ don’t skimp, the mayo gives your sushi bowl great flavor! You might also mix mayo with wasabi for a different flavor.
sushi bowl faqs
- Do you use raw fish for sushi bowls?
- You can, but I like to use cooked fish. That way you don’t have the hassle of sourcing and storing sushi grade fish. A convenient raw fish alternative would be to use cold smoked salmon.
- Can I use regular rice instead of sushi rice?
- Technically, you can use regular rice instead of sushi rice, but sushi rice has a distinct texture and flavor that makes it the most authentic choice for sushi bowls. Sushi rice is short-grain rice that is cooked with vinegar, sugar, and salt to give it a slightly sweet and tangy taste and a sticky texture that holds together well.
- Can I make sushi bowls with quinoa or other grains instead of rice?
- Sure! Quinoa is a great option because it has a similar texture to rice and is packed with protein and fiber. Other grains like brown rice, wild rice, or barley can also work well in sushi bowls but if you want a real sushi experience, go with sushi rice!
- Are sushi bowls served hot or cold?
- Generally they are served cold, just like a sushi roll. In summer this is super refreshing, but you can serve it warm or room temp if you prefer.
- Can I make sushi bowls ahead of time?
- If you want to get a head start on sushi bowls prep all your veggies and store them under a wet paper towel in the fridge. Make your sushi rice and be sure to wrap it in plastic so it doesn’t dry out, and then wait until the last minute to actually assemble your bowls.
- Are sushi bowls healthy?
- They’re quite a healthy way to eat, as long as you go easy on that spicy mayo! Rice is low in fat, cholesterol-free, and a good source of carbohydrates. It also contains some essential vitamins and minerals such as thiamine, niacin, and iron. It’s relatively high in calories and carbohydrates, but these sushi bowls make up for that with all the fresh veggies.
Salmon Sushi Bowls
- 1 cup uncooked short grain sushi rice, I used Jade rice
- 1/3 cup rice wine vinegar
- 2 Tbsp sugar
- 1 tsp salt
- 1/4 cup mayonnaise
- sriracha sauce, add to taste. You can make this as mild or as spicy as you like.
- few drops of rice wine vinegar
- pinch salt
- 1/2 lb cooked salmon
- 1 ripe avocado, halved and sliced
- 1 medium carrot, peeled and julienned
- 6 radishes, thinly sliced
- 1 small cucumber, thinly sliced
- crispy seasweed snack wafers, finely shredded
- furikake seasoning
- 4 scallions, thinly slicced (white and green parts)
- Cook your jade or sushi rice according to the package directions. While the rice is cooking, heat the vinegar, sugar and salt just until the sugar dissolves. When the rice is done, fold the vinegar mixture into the hot rice. Be sure to taste it to make sure it's seasoned to your liking. At this point you can use the rice hot, or let it cool down for room temperature sushi bowls.
- Blend together your spicy mayo and taste to adjust any of the ingredients. Chill until needed.
- To assemble the bowls, divide the rice between two bowls. Divide the salmon between the bowls, flaking it apart gently with your fingers as you add it.
- Add the avocado halves, then arrange the carrots, radishes, and cucumbers in clusters around the rest of the surface of your bowls.
- Liberally drizzle the salmon with the spicy mayo. Then garnish the bowls with scallions, crispy seaweed, and a good sprinkle of furikake.
- Serve asap with more spicy mayo on the side.
- Buy from a reputable fishmonger: one that specializes in sushi-grade fish. Ask them where the fish came from and when it was caught.
- Smell the fish: fresh fish should have a mild, ocean-like scent. If the fish smells strong or “fishy”, it may not be fresh.
- Check for firmness: gently press on the fish to make sure it springs back.
- Ask for certification: Some fishmongers may have certification from organizations such as the Marine Stewardship Council (MSC) or the Aquaculture Stewardship Council (ASC) that indicate that the fish has been sustainably sourced and handled safely.