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This colorful Mosaic Sushi features sashimi, tamagoyaki rolled omelette, and vegetables arranged in a checkerboard pattern over sushi rice. It’s a feast for the senses! Despite its exquisite presentation, anyone can make it at home. In my recipe, I’ll teach you an easy method to prepare this modern take on sushi that’s sure to impress. (Vegetarian/vegan-friendly toppings are included.)

A Japanese lacquer box containing colorful Mosaic Sushi that's made of checkerboard pattern of various sashimi, tamago, and cucumber laid over sushi rice.

I’ve shared a collection of traditional sushi recipes that the Japanese make at home, such as Inari Sushi, Futomaki, Temaki (Hand Roll Sushi), and Chirashi Sushi. Today, I’m excited to share a modern take on sushi called Mosaic Sushi (モザイク寿司).

Look at the colorful toppings and the aesthetic display! Isn’t it a beautiful piece of edible art?

What is Mosaic Sushi (Mozaiku Sushi)

Mosaic Sushi, or what we call Mozaiku Sushi (モザイク寿司), earned its Instagram fame in Japan back in 2016. I don’t know who or what company started this craze, but it was a huge sensation!

As the name suggests, Mosaic Sushi is made of sushi rice topped with a striking array of ingredients like sashimi, tamagoyaki (sweet rolled omelette), vegetables, and fish roe in a checkerboard pattern. The method of making this modern-style sushi is similar to Oshizushi (Pressed Sushi) and Chirashi Sushi.

Judging by the delicate presentation, Mosaic Sushi might look like a lot of work, but it’s really not, especially the way I make it. After a few runs of recipe testing, I figured out a couple of easy tricks that work like a charm. So, you don’t need any special skill other than a keen eye for color and patterns.

Ready to try your hand at making this decorated tray of sushi?

A Japanese lacquer box containing colorful Mosaic Sushi that's made of checkerboard pattern of various sashimi, tamago, and cucumber laid over sushi rice.

Get Creative and Have Fun!

The beauty of this recipe is in its flexibility. The options for toppings are endless. You can customize this sushi to suit your aesthetic senses of color, shape, texture, and flavor. It’s highly adaptable to what’s in season and available in your local markets. You can also change up the toppings based on your dietary preferences.

Above all, have fun with it. Get creative with different combinations of ingredients that appeal to you. You’re only limited by your imagination!

Ingredients You’ll Need to Make Mosaic Sushi

For the Sushi Rice

  • Japanese short-grain rice (cooked) — When you make sushi, you really have to get Japanese short-grain rice. No exceptions. You can use Korean short-grain rice as it is the closest to Japanese variety. Do not use jasmine rice, etc.
  • Sushi vinegar — It’s a mixture of rice vinegar, sugar, and salt.
  • White sesame seeds

For the Toppings

* Choose your own combination of toppings based on visual appeal, seasonality, and your dietary preferences. The ingredients that I used for this recipe are in bold.

  • Sashimi-grade fishsalmon, tuna (otoro), scallop, squid, shrimp (amaebi and cooked), kanpachi, tai, surf clam (hokkigai), ikura, tobiko
  • Cooked fish — smoked salmon (top with capers), unagi (grilled eel), Salmon Flakes
  • Cooked meat — seasoned thinly sliced meat or ground meat (check out Soboro)
  • Eggs — Tamagoyaki (Japanese sweet rolled omelette), usuyaki tamago (thin omelette), Kinshi Tamago (shredded omelette)
  • Cucumber slices
  • Red radish slices
  • Green peas
  • Opened snap peas
  • Blanched asparagus
  • Sakura denbu (pink colored cod flakes)
  • Garnish — parsley leaf, kinome leaf, sliced blanched okra, chives, yuzu zest, lemon slice, edible flower, gold leaf flakes

Want to Make a Vegan Mosaic Sushi?

If you’re vegetarian or vegan, you can still enjoy Mosaic Sushi with colorful plant-based ingredients!

A Japanese lacquer box containing colorful Mosaic Sushi that's made of checkerboard pattern of various vegan-friendly ingredients laid over sushi rice.

Three Important Tips for Vegan Mosaic Sushi

The three most important things about vegan Mosaic Sushi are the color, texture, and flavor.

  1. Color: Pay attention to the interplay of colors by working with bright and colorful ingredients.
  2. Texture: Look for ingredients with contrasting textures. They create dimension and artistic form which help enhance the visual component and enjoyment of the sushi.
  3. Flavor: Because the rice is lightly seasoned with sushi vinegar (rice vinegar, sugar, and salt), you will need toppings that will bring more assertive and vibrant flavor to the sushi.

Be careful with your seasoning or when marinating with any condiments as we want to preserve the fresh bright color of the vegetables. My recommendations are lightly seasoned vegetables and pickled vegetables.

For the Vegan-Friendly Toppings

* The ingredients that I used for this recipe are in bold.

Garnish options

  • Kinome leaves
  • Chives
  • Lemon slices
  • Yuzu Zest
  • Blanched okra slices
  • Watermelon radish cutouts
  • Edible gold leaf flakes
A Japanese lacquer box containing colorful Mosaic Sushi that's made of checkerboard pattern of various vegan-friendly ingredients laid over sushi rice.

Overview: Cooking Steps

  1. Make the sushi rice. If you want to learn how to make sushi rice properly, from measuring the rice and rinsing the rice, read my Sushi Rice recipe.
  2. Pack the sushi rice into a container.
  3. Cut the bed of sushi rice into cubes inside the container.
  4. Prepare the topping ingredients. Cut or arrange them into a square shape.
  5. Place the topping ingredients on top of the sushi rice cubes and garnish with herbs and tiny toppings.
A Japanese lacquer box containing colorful Mosaic Sushi that's made of checkerboard pattern of various sashimi, tamago, and cucumber laid over sushi rice.

My Super Easy Method to Make Mosaic Sushi

Typical methods for making Mosaic Sushi call for a very sharp knife to succeed. The first (more advanced) method requires layering the toppings and rice in reverse order in an oshibako (wooden sushi compressor), then cutting the whole composed sushi in a checkerboard pattern with a knife.

Oshibako for Pressed Sushi (Oshizushi) | Easy Japanese Recipes at JustOneCookbook.com
Oshibako

The second (more common) method requires compressing the sushi rice in a container lined with plastic and then cutting it. While this method is easier than the advanced method, you still need a very sharp knife to cut the
sushi cubes cleanly.

I have pretty sharp knives, but still, I struggled a little when cutting the sushi rice block into nice, sharp-cornered cubes. Luckily, persistence and keen observation pay off. I’m happy to say that I’ve figured out two cool tricks!

Trick 1: Parchment Paper

This was in fact the final trick that solved the puzzle: Line the bottom of the container with parchment paper.

Mosaic Sushi-step by step-18

When the sushi rice is compressed in the container, the rice sticks to the bottom and it is extremely hard to pick up a cube of sushi with chopsticks. You could end up with the toppings but only a partial cube of sushi rice. With the parchment paper lining the bottom, you can pick up the entire cubed sushi with the topping on top! Problem solved!

Trick 2: A Dough Scraper

When you pack the sushi rice into the container, it should be tightly packed, but the grains should not be mashed. I used a dough scraper for this and it works perfectly. You just have to wet the scraper with water every time you use it.

Mosaic Sushi-step by step-26

Then, use a dough scraper to cut the compressed sushi rice INSIDE the container. The width of the cube size should be somewhere between 1¼ inches (3 cm) to 1½ inches (4 cm). I used the 3.5 cm square for my container, yielding 25 cubes.

Mosaic Sushi-step by step-34

This method makes so much more sense. Why would we take out the sushi rice from the container to cut with a knife and put it back inside the container so you can put the toppings on top? No need!

Again, the parchment paper underneath this compressed sushi rice was the final key for this successful trick. Thanks to the parchment paper on the bottom, you can pick up the sushi cubes completely and easily with chopsticks!

Now all you need to do is cut the topping ingredients (sashimi, vegetables, etc.) to cover the squares. Place each topping on the bed of sushi rice. Very easy!

A Japanese lacquer box containing colorful Mosaic Sushi that's made of checkerboard pattern of various vegan-friendly ingredients laid over sushi rice.

5 Helpful Tips When You Are Making Mosaic Sushi

Besides the 2 tricks for this recipe that I mentioned above, here are a few things to keep in mind when you make mosaic sushi:

  1. Visualize your final look. It may even help to map out on a piece of paper what toppings to place and where. For a total of 25 squares, you’ll need 3 squares each of 4 ingredients (salmon, tuna, cucumber, and tamagoyaki), 2 squares each of 5 ingredients (ikura, scallop, amaebi, cooked shrimp, and surf clams), and 1 square each of 3 ingredients (red radish, snap pea, and green peas).
  2. Moisten the dough scraper when pressing down the sushi rice and when “cutting” the sushi rice block.
  3. Cut the topping ingredients slightly bigger than the sushi rice squares and make sure the lines are straight. The checkerboard will look perfect.
  4. When arranging the toppings, think about the color, texture, and orientation.
  5. It’s very important to layer and make the toppings three dimensional. You can place additional garnishes such as ikura, zest, okra slices, lemon slices, and chives on the main toppings to give the entire presentation more dimension.

Mosaic Sushi is indeed one of my newest sushi obsessions. Feel free to experiment with different toppings that you can think of! It is about the most fun you can have in the kitchen, so I hope you give this sushi a try.

A Japanese lacquer box containing colorful Mosaic Sushi that's made of checkerboard pattern of various sashimi, tamago, and cucumber laid over sushi rice.

JOC Cooking Challenge March 2022

Mosaic Sushi is the first JOC Cooking Challenge recipe for 2022. It is open to everyone who is interested in taking part in the virtual contest. I seriously can’t wait to see your creations!

If you are interested to learn more about our ongoing Cooking Challenge, please read this post.

Other Sushi Recipes on JOC

A Japanese lacquer box containing colorful Mosaic Sushi that's made of checkerboard pattern of various sashimi, tamago, and cucumber laid over sushi rice.

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A Japanese lacquer box containing colorful Mosaic Sushi that's made of checkerboard pattern of various sashimi, tamago, and cucumber laid over sushi rice.

Mosaic Sushi

This colorful Mosaic Sushi features sashimi, tamagoyaki rolled omelette, and vegetables arranged in a checkerboard pattern over sushi rice. It’s a feast for the senses! Despite its exquisite presentation, anyone can make it at home. In my recipe, I’ll teach you an easy method to prepare this modern take on sushi that’s sure to impress.

Prep Time: 40 mins

Total Time: 40 mins

Ingredients 

 

For the Toppings (use this as an example; feel free to choose your own)

For the Garnishes (optional)

Japanese Ingredient Substitution: If you want substitutes for Japanese condiments and ingredients, click here.

Instructions 

Before You Start…

  • Gather all the ingredients. It’s helpful to use a ruler to measure a precise checkerboard pattern for the Mosaic Sushi. Please use my topping ideas as just an example. I asked the fishmonger at the Japanese grocery store (Suruki Market in San Mateo) to slice the sashimi for me. If you buy a block of sashimi, slice it ⅛-¼ inch (3-6 mm) thick.

To Pack the Sushi Rice

  • Place a sheet of parchment paper on the bottom of the container you’re using. Here, I’m using a 7½-inch x 7½-inch (19 cm x 19 cm) Japanese lacquered box called jubako (this traditional box is used for Osechi Ryori or as a lunch box). If you do not place parchment paper inside the container, the rice will stick to the bottom and it will be very hard to pick up the individual sushi pieces.
  • Transfer the prepared sushi rice into the container. The measured rice (the whole 2 rice cooker cups you’ve cooked) is just the perfect amount for this standard jubako size. With the rice paddle, evenly distribute the sushi rice to the corners and edges of the container, making sure the bed of sushi rice is level.

  • Moisten a plastic dough scraper in water and use it to firmly press down the sushi rice. We don’t want to overpress the rice and mash the grains, but the rice should be tightly packed so the sushi cubes hold their shape when you pick them up.

  • Continue to press down the sushi rice with the dough scraper. Don’t forget to moisten it so the rice doesn’t stick to it. This type of sushi is called oshizushi or pressed sushi, so it is considered normal to press the rice grains.

  • Now, cut the sushi rice into squares or cubes. Moisten the dough scraper with water and use it to makes a series of lengthwise slices through the bed of sushi rice across the width of the sushi box. The slices should be the same distance apart so you will have neat squares for the checkerboard pattern. Measure your sushi box so that your slices are equally distanced, about 1¼ inches (3 cm) to 1½ inches (4 cm) apart. For my 7½-inch x 7½-inch (19 cm x 19 cm) container, I cut the sushi rice about 1⅓ inches (3.5 cm) wide. Moisten the scraper after each slice to prevent sticking.

  • Then, rotate the container 90 degrees, and again make lengthwise slices across the width of the box that are the same distance apart (1⅓ inches or 3.5 cm in my case) as the previous slices you made. You now have cubes about 1⅓ inches (3.5 cm) square. Set aside.

  • Go over your slices a second time to separate and compress the sushi squares further; this will make it easier to remove the individual cubes when serving. Start by inserting the clean dough scraper that you’ve moistened with water into the first slice you made earlier. Move the scraper back and forth in a sawing motion along the entire length of the slice, ensuring a clear separation between the two sides. Next, press the scraper along the right side, firmly packing in the rice. Repeat along the left side. There will now be a gap of about 1 mm between the two sides. Move onto the next slice and repeat this “separate and compress” process. Moisten the scraper with water between slices and keep it clean of any rice grains or residue. Continue until you’ve finished all the lengthwise slices in that direction. Then, rotate the container 90 degrees and repeat with the remaining slices.

To Decorate the Mosaic Sushi

  • Decorate the Mosaic Sushi by placing a single type of topping onto each square. Make sure to maintain the straight lines of the checkerboard pattern and completely cover the sushi rice with the toppings. Consider the color, texture, and orientation of each ingredient as you place the toppings. For example, avoid putting similar-colored ingredients next to each other. Use a tiny garnish like ikura, tobiko, citrus zest, or an herb to create dimension.

  • Use my Mosaic Sushi as an inspiration to create yours! Challenge your creativity. Snap a picture of your Mosaic Sushi and send it to [email protected] You may be one of 3 lucky winners chosen at random to win a $100 Amazon gift card! Read more about the JOC Cooking Challenge. This March 2022 recipe is JOC’s first-ever cooking challenge!

To Make a Vegan Version of Mosaic Sushi

  • If you would like to make a vegan version of this recipe, please read the blog post for the ingredients I used for my vegan Mosaic Sushi and other topping ideas.

  • Here is my finished vegan Mosaic Sushi.

Nutrition

Calories: 465 kcal · Carbohydrates: 75 g · Protein: 24 g · Fat: 6 g · Saturated Fat: 2 g · Polyunsaturated Fat: 1 g · Monounsaturated Fat: 1 g · Trans Fat: 1 g · Cholesterol: 160 mg · Sodium: 560 mg · Potassium: 396 mg · Fiber: 1 g · Sugar: 10 g · Vitamin A: 757 IU · Vitamin C: 13 mg · Calcium: 42 mg · Iron: 4 mg

Author: Namiko Chen

Course: Main Course

Cuisine: Japanese

Keyword: sushi

©JustOneCookbook.com Content and photographs are copyright protected. Sharing of this recipe is both encouraged and appreciated. Copying and/or pasting full recipes to any website or social media is strictly prohibited. Please view my photo use policy here.

Our Recommendations for Buying Sashimi Online

Catalina Offshore Products banner with salmon
When we have a sudden craving for sashimi we usually buy from our local Japanese supermarkets. If you don’t have a reliable shop to purchase quality sashimi nearby, we would recommend buying from Catalina Offshore online.

They’ve been in business for over forty years and all the sashimi products we’ve tried from them are outstanding. Disclosure: We earn a small percentage commission from your purchase of products linked to Catalina Offshore.



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