Sushi Bake is your favorite rice dish in a casserole form! It’s easy to make and delivers the delicious Japanese flavors you love with no special sushi chef skills required.
I’ve had this baked sushi cooked, photographed, and ready to go way back in May on the height of its popularity, but my procrastinating self never got around to posting the recipe. Well, better late than never.
I don’t think I’m too not too late for the party, though, because I’m still seeing the casserole making its rounds on social media. And if the hype has indeed waned, sushi bake deserves a push back to the limelight. It’s just as tasty and fun to eat as when it was all the rage.
Although there is no definitive history of how the sushi casserole idea came about, some articles suggest it might have originated in Hawaii which also gave birth to the poke bowl and spam musubi.
This baked seafood and rice might have just recently taken the Philippines by storm, but it has been around for a while. Recipes or early mentions of the dish can be found online dating as far back as 2011!
Sushi bake, simply put, is a broken-down version of the maki. Instead of rolling the rice around various fillings and wrapping with a sheet of dried seaweed, the different components are layered in a baking dish and finished off in the oven.
When hot and bubbly, the partakers then help themselves to bite-sized scoops of the rice and toppings and make small rolls with nori sheets. A truly delicious and fun experience!
How to Make
The Rice Layer
- Sushi rice is traditionally made of Japanese short-grain rice (meshi) which is characterized by the stickiness of its grains. This higher starch amylopectin content makes Japonica cultivar easier to eat with chopsticks as well as to shape into various sushi styles.
- While the sticky and starchy variety is best, Jasmine rice can be substituted in a pinch. Just increase the amount of water used in cooking for a softer texture.
- Wash the rice well until the water runs clear. For umami flavor, cook the rice with a piece of kombu or dried kelp.
- The word sushi actually means “vinegared rice” and not “raw fish”. The steamed rice is flavored with rice vinegar, sugar, and salt to achieve a delicious balance of sweet, salty, and sourish taste.
- Toss Furikake seasoning with the vinegared rice or sprinkle on top. This seafood flavoring, which is a savory mixture of bonito flakes, sesame seeds, chopped seaweed, sugar, salt, and MSG, is available at most Asian supermarkets or online. For a simple DIY option, quickly toast dried dilis (anchovies) on a hot skillet, grind in a food processor into a coarse powder, and combine with nori strips, sesame seeds, sugar, and salt.
California Roll Topping
- Along with shredded imitation crab (kani) and julienned cucumbers, we’re adding diced Manila mangoes for a pop of color and fresh fruit flavor.
- The seafood salad is pulled together by Japanese mayo (Kewpie) for creaminess. As an easy substitute if Kewpie mayo is unavailable, stir in rice vinegar and sugar to regular mayo to taste.
- Baked sushi is not only easy and fun to make, but also adaptable. You can go as simple as canned tuna or this kani salad for a budget-friendly option or fancy it up with more expensive choices such as salmon, shrimp (ebi), lump crabmeat, scallops, crawfish, or fish roe (tobiko).
- For a vegan version, you can use garbanzos, shitake mushrooms, firm tofu, or assorted veggies, and toss with vegan mayo.
The cheese layer
- After layering the creamy kani mixture, you can simply sprinkle more Furikake for extra color and then bake. We are, however, taking things up a notch and loading it up with shredded cheese! The result is a cheesy layer that’s both golden brown and creamy!
- To tone down the richness, skip the cheese and drizzle mayonnaise and Sriracha sauce (if you want a bit of heat) on the assembled casserole in a decorative pattern before baking.
- After baking, sprinkle with more furikake and decorate with mayo and Sriracha as desired.
- You can also arrange diced mangoes, julienned cucumbers, sliced avocados, and egg omelet strips (tamago) on top of the sushi bake or serve these garnishes on the side.
- If you prefer it cold, omit the cheese, and serve without baking.
How to serve
- Serve as a delicious and filling midday snack, appetizer, or main dish.
- Cut the casserole into small squares or simply scoop a bite-size portion and wrap with nori seaweed. Top with mangoes, cucumbers, avocadoes, and/or egg strips for added fresh flavor and crunch.
- Baked sushi is best eaten fresh from the oven. If you do have leftovers, transfer in an airtight container and refrigerate for up to 3 days.