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Chirashizushi is the simplest, homiest, and most varied form of sushi. If you're averse to raw fish, have limited knife skills, and don't like touching cooked rice with your bare hands, then this one is for you.
Chirashi literally translates as "scattered," and it refers to the way in which ingredients are laid out over the rice, and there are two ways to do this. Fancy restaurants will often have versions of chirashizushi that consist almost completely of raw fish on top of the rice. When this is the case, the ingredients are usually placed together in an orderly fashion across the to of the bowl, like in the picture above (but with more expensive ingredients)
Homestyle chirashizushi is a bit more slapdash. Care is still taken to choose ingredients that complement and contrast each other, but they are scattered over the entire surface of the rice so that diners can easily scoop up a portion into their own bowls that'll have a good mix of color, texture, and flavor.
To eat chirashizushi, use your chopsticks to eat a few bites of toppings, followed by a few bites of plain rice. If there are toppings that require soy sauce, like raw fish, you should dip the fish separately into a small bowl of sauce before consuming. Don't pour the sauce over the rice, or it'll become soggy and impossible to pick up later on!
There are no hard and fast rules about what ingredients to use, though thinly sliced omelet, simmered shiitakes, shrimp, and cucumber are all classic common ingredients.
What are your favorite toppings for chirashi?
And now that we've completed sushi week, which style of sushi do you like best?
And one last question: Is that raw fish in your pocket, or are you just happy sashimi?
About the author: J. Kenji Lopez-Alt is the Chief Creative Officer of Serious Eats where he likes to explore the science of home cooking in his weekly column The Food Lab. You can follow him at @thefoodlab on Twitter, or at The Food Lab on Facebook.