More than anything, chirashizushi is about balance. When deciding what ingredients to use, think of the flavors (fresh, peppery, savory, sweet, etc), the textures (crunchy, moist, soft, fatty, fresh, etc), and the colors. Pick your ingredients to offer as much contrast as possible. The following slideshow shows just one set of ingredients—use your imagination!
Step 1: Cook the Egg
Many homestyle chirashizushi start with a bed of shredded eggs layered over the sumeshi. To make it, lightly beat an egg with a pinch of salt and sugar. Heat a non-stick 8-inch skillet over medium heat until it's hot enough to boil a drop of water on contact. Brush it with a thin layer of oil using a paper towel, then pour in half the egg. Swirl the pan to make an even layer and let it cook until it's almost set. Carefully pick it up using a thin spatula and your fingers, then cook it on the second side until set.
Step 2: Slice Egg
Once you've made two thin omelets, stack them, roll them up, and slice them thinly with a sharp knife. Store them in a bowl lined with a paper towel.
Step 3: Simmer Shiitake
I like the savory, meaty quality of shiitake mushrooms simmered in dashi. To make them, slice 8 shiitake mushroom caps thinly, then place them in a saucepan with 2 teaspoons soy sauce, 2 teaspoons sugar, 1 tablespoon sake, and a 1/2 cup of dashi (you can use chicken stock or water if you don't have dashi on hand). Simmer until the liquid is almost completely gone and the mushrooms are insanely savory. Let them cool, and set aside.
Step 4: Shred Nori
Shredding nori sheets for me used to be a pain in the a*s, until I discovered that it's a whole lot easier with scissors. Take a sheet of nori, cut it into four long strips lengthwise, stack the strips, then cut crosswise into thin shreds. Store shredded nori in an airtight container at room temperature.
Step 5: Assemble your Other Ingredients
In this case I'm using some salmon sashimi, daikon radish sprouts, lightly poached shrimp (I cooked them in a cup of water in the microwave), and a spoonful of tobiko. I'm also going to use some sliced cucumbers, and slices of lemon on top of the fish.
Step 6: Make Your Bed
Add a layer of sumeshi to the bottom of a bowl (I like serving this family style, but you can do individual servings as well), then top with a layer of shredded egg.
Step 7: Scatter Away
You can then either arrange the ingredients in a compartmentalized way as I did in the opening photo, or you can go with the true "scattered" spirit of the dish and simply throw on your ingredients any which way. I do like to make sure the lemon is in contact with the salmon to season it, and that the nori shreds go on top so they don't get too soggy. Serve immediately with wasabi, pickled ginger, and soy sauce. to eat, alternate bites of different ingredients with bites of plain rice. Don't pour soy sauce directly into the bowl, as that'll make it impossible to pick up the with chopsticks. Instead, dip individual ingredients like raw fish into a separate small bowl of soy sauce as you eat.