This Hearty Sushi Bake Is the Most Comforting Way to Satisfy My Sushi Cravings

updated Jan 14, 2021
Recipe Review
Sushi Bake Recipe

Even though sushi is traditionally a lighter meal, this sushi bake is rich, hearty, and comforting — just like a proper casserole.

Makes16 sushi bites

Prep1 hour

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Credit: Jason Rampe
Sushi Bake

This recipe is part of Kitchn 100 — the hundred recipes you need right now. Check out all of the amazing dishes, from Kitchn and beyond, here.

To educate myself on food trends popping up around the world, I like to break up my Instagram feed (which so quickly gets filled with the same American trends over and over again) by following accounts from other countries and cultures. Some of the coolest things happening in food are happening outside the U.S., but the only way you’ll know that is if you switch up your follow game. 

If you follow Asian food Instagram accounts and blogs like I do, you may have heard of sushi bake. Just like we had a sourdough craze in the U.S. at the beginning of lockdown, the Philippines has been having its own viral food moments — with sushi bake being the one that sparked my curiosity the most. 

The concept of a sushi bake isn’t actually new. It’s been a popular potluck dish in Hawaii for years, but many people credit its recent spike in popularity to Filipina nail artist Mimi Qiu Reyes. When the pandemic hit, Mimi sent sushi bakes to various celebrities in the Philippines, and the response was so overwhelming that she turned the concept into a business. Today, @theoriginalbakedcaliforniaroll has more than 62,000 followers on Instagram.

After reading all about it and seeing it take over Reddit threads and Pinterest boards, I finally decided to try my hand at making a sushi bake at home. I love California rolls and sushi, so I knew it would be good!

Credit: Jason Rampe

What Is Sushi Bake?

Sushi bake is a California or sushi roll that has been deconstructed and layered in a dish like a casserole. After it bakes, you cut the casserole into squares and serve the squares on a nori snack, similar to a maki roll or a seaweed taco. During my research, I discovered it’s really customizable, and can take on whatever form or flavors you like.

In addition to the Reddit threads, I drew inspiration from the three highest-ranking sushi bakes on Google: Keeping it Relle, Foxy Folksy, and Onolicious Hawaii. Each of these recipes features a base of sushi rice mixed with vinegar, salt, and sugar layered with furikake, imitation crab, and spicy mayo. From there, the ingredients vary — Keepin it Relle drizzles her bake with unagi sauce, and Foxy Folksy’s version incorporates a creamy mango and cucumber topping. In true sushi bake style, I took the parts from each of them that appealed to me the most.

Credit: Jason Rampe
Sushi Bake on Nori

My Honest Review of Sushi Bake

My sushi bake was a hit! My whole family loved this super-tasty casserole layered with all the sushi flavors we love. What surprised me the most was that even though sushi is traditionally a lighter meal, the bake was rich, hearty, and comforting — just like a proper casserole. A few squares in and I was satiated, and I was thankful for the fresh, clean bites of cucumber salad. I can see why this is a popular potluck item, because it’s definitely a crowd-pleaser.

If you plan on giving sushi bake a try, remember that you can customize it to your liking. You can mix cream cheese or cucumbers to the spicy crab mayo, add a layer of shiitake mushrooms, and/or garnish the whole thing with tobiko (fish roe) or ikura (salmon roe). I thought the homemade unagi sauce was a delicious addition, but you can also buy pre-made sauce. The wasabi nori snacks that I served mine with gave it a little extra heat that I loved, so I highly recommend using those.

So the next time you’re craving sushi, save the sushi-rolling party for the summer and eat this sushi bake instead. It’s the perfect way to satisfy your cravings while still giving you a dose of winter comfort.

Sushi Bake Recipe

Even though sushi is traditionally a lighter meal, this sushi bake is rich, hearty, and comforting — just like a proper casserole.

Prep time 1 hour

Makes 16 sushi bites

Nutritional Info

Ingredients

  • 1 1/2 cups

    short or medium grain sushi rice

  • 1 3/4 cups

    water

  • 3 tablespoons

    rice vinegar

  • 3 tablespoons

    granulated sugar, divided

  • 1 3/4 teaspoons

    kosher salt, divided, plus more as needed

  • 1/4 cup

    mirin

  • 1/4 cup

    soy sauce or coconut aminos

  • 2 tablespoons

    sake

  • 2

    Persian cucumbers

  • 2

    medium scallions

  • 8 ounces

    lump crab meat or surimi (imitation crab sticks)

  • 1/2 cup

    Kewpie or mayonnaise

  • 1 tablespoon

    Sriracha hot sauce

  • Cooking spray

  • 3 tablespoons

    katsuo furikake, divided, plus more for garnish

  • 1

    medium avocado

For serving:

  • Togarashi (optional)

  • 2 (.40ounce) packages

    nori snacks

Instructions

  1. Place 1 1/2 cups sushi rice in a fine-mesh sieve and rinse under cool running water until the water runs clear. Transfer to a medium saucepan. Add 1 3/4 cups water and stir to combine. Cover and bring to a boil over high heat. Reduce the heat to low. Cook covered until the water is absorbed and the rice is tender, about 12 minutes.

  2. When the rice is almost cooked, place 3 tablespoons rice vinegar, 1 tablespoon of the granulated sugar, and 1 1/4 teaspoons of the kosher salt in a small saucepan over medium heat. Stir until the sugar and salt are dissolved, about 2 minutes. Turn off the heat.

  3. Transfer the rice to a large bowl. Add the vinegar mixture and using a rice paddle or rubber spatula, mix and fold to combine. Refrigerate until cool or cold to the touch, about 45 minutes. Meanwhile, arrange a rack in the middle of the oven and heat the oven to 450ºF. Prepare the toppings.

  4. Rinse and dry the small saucepan. Add 1/4 cup mirin, 1/4 cup of soy sauce or coconut aminos, 2 tablespoons sake, and 2 tablespoons of the granulated sugar. Bring to a simmer over medium-high heat. Reduce the heat to maintain a simmer and cook until thickened into a syrup, about 7 minutes.

  5. Trim and quarter 2 Persian cucumbers lengthwise. Cut each spear crosswise into 1/2 inch pieces (about 1 heaping cup). Place in a fine-mesh strainer fitted over a small bowl. Sprinkle with 1/4 teaspoon of the kosher salt and toss to combine. Set aside to allow the cucumbers to release some water.

  6. Thinly slice 2 medium scallions; reserve the dark greens for garnish and transfer the remaining to a medium bowl. If using imitation crab, cut 8 ounces crosswise into 1/2-inch pieces and shred. Add the crab, 1/2 cup mayonnaise, 1 tablespoon Sriracha, and the remaining 1/4 teaspoon kosher salt to the bowl and stir to combine. Taste and season with more kosher salt as needed. Cover and refrigerate.

  7. Coat an 8x8-inch baking pan with cooking spray and line with a piece of parchment paper that hangs over 2 sides. Using a wet rice paddle or rubber spatula, transfer the rice into the baking dish. Using the rice paddle and dipping it into water as needed to keep the rice from sticking to it, press the rice into an even layer.

  8. Sprinkle 2 tablespoons of the furikake over the rice. Top with the crab mixture in an even layer. Evenly drizzle 3 tablespoons of the sauce over the crab, making sure it covers the surface and edges. Sprinkle with the remaining 1 tablespoon furikake.

  9. Bake until the edges turn brown and look a little caramelized, about 15 minutes. Let cool for at least 10 minutes. Meanwhile, halve 1 medium avocado and remove the pit. Halve each piece lengthwise again, then peel the skin off. Thinly slice each piece lengthwise, then cut the slices in half crosswise.

  10. Using an offset spatula, loosen the sushi bake from the sides of the baking dish. Using a wet chef’s knife, cut the sushi bake into 16 squares, wetting the knife as needed to keep from sticking. Top the squares decoratively with the avocado and cucumber. Sprinkle with togarashi if desired, more furikake, and the reserved scallion greens. To eat, place a sushi bake square in a nori snack and wrap. You may need a few pieces of nori per square.