Oshi sushi recipe | The famous box sushi explained + how to make it yourself

by Joost Nusselder | Updated:  April 9, 2022

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I’m sure you like sushi rolls, but have you ever tried one of Japan’s oldest forms of sushi called oshi sushi?

Oshi sushi is a type of pressed sushi that originates from Osaka, Japan. It’s not like the typical rolls you’re used to eating because it has a rectangular shape and is made with ingredients such as salmon, mackerel, rice, and vegetables in a wooden mold.

If you’re looking for a new and unique sushi experience, then you should definitely try oshi sushi.

Oshi sushi recipe | The famous box sushi explained + how to make it yourself

Those who don’t like Nori will enjoy oshi sushi since it doesn’t use seaweed as one of its ingredients.

There are many ways to customize oshi sushi. For example, you can add sauces or toppings to change the flavor. The most popular way to eat oshi sushi is with soy sauce and wasabi.

Ready to give oshi sushi a try at home? Check out the recipe below!

Make oshi sushi at home with a special sushi mold

For this recipe, you are going to need to have a pressed sushi mold, also called an oshibako. This rectangular wooden mold will help you press the sushi rice into rectangles.

Therefore, before you start grab the oshibako mold.

I like the JapanBargain Wooden Oshizushi Press because it’s cheap and made of a strong wood you can use for years to come.

JapanBargain 3130, Wooden Oshizushi Press Maker Rectangular Sushi Press Mold Oshizushihako, 8.5 inch x 2.75 inch

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Oshi sushi recipe | The famous box sushi explained + how to make it yourself

Smoked salmon with avocado and cucumber Oshi sushi recipe

Joost Nusselder
Vinegared sushi rice, with smoked salmon, avocado and cucumber is probably the ultimate sushi combo. The umami flavors work well together. Making pressed sushi with a mold is so easy, that you'll be switching from rolls to box sushi in no time.
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Prep Time 20 mins
Cook Time 25 mins
Course Main Course
Cuisine Japanese
Servings 24 pieces

Ingredients
  

  • 2 cups of sushi rice short-grained Japanese rice wash to remove starch and drain well
  • 20 ml rice vinegar
  • ½ tablespoon granulated white sugar
  • 150 g smoked salmon
  • 1 small cucumber
  • 1 avocado thinly sliced
  • 1 tablespoon Japanese kewpie mayo
  • soy sauce for serving
  • pickled ginger optional for serving
  • wasabi paste optional for serving

Instructions
 

Step one: prepare the sushi rice

  • Preparation is key when it comes to making rice.
  • Place the sushi rice in a rice cooker after it has been washed and drained.
  • Add enough water to completely submerge the ingredients, up to the 2-cup mark.
  • To cook, simply place the lid on the pot and press the button on the timer.
  • Make a solution of rice vinegar and sugar and combine the sushi rice vinegar and sugar in a small saucepan.
  • Heat until the sugar is dissolved on medium heat. Remove from the heat.
  • As soon as the rice has finished cooking, carefully drizzle and fan in the sushi vinegar combo.
  • Stir the rice and vinegar together using a rice paddle until well combined.

Step two: Assemble the sushi

  • Take some rice vinegar and wet your fingers and the wooden mold with it to prevent the rice from sticking.
  • Assemble the box so the bottom base and sides are upright and the top of the box is fully open. (It looks like a box with no lid).
  • Slice your salmon, avocado, and cucumber into thin strips.
  • Start to add the smoked salmon to the bottom of the box.
  • Then, add a layer of sliced avocado.
  • Next, add a layer of the sliced cucumber.
  • After the toppings are layered, you need to cover them and fill the box with the sushi rice just below the rim.
  • Spread the rice out evenly and fill the corners.
  • Using the top piece of the oshibako (the third piece), press down the rice firmly.
  • If some areas are sparse or uneven, spread the rice out to make sure it's spread out evenly. Continue to press down firmly.
  • After pressing, slide the side part of the box up. You should still apply pressure to the top of the press.
  • The result is layered sushi. Flip over the sushi box on a large plate and then slice the sushi into small rectangular bite-sized pieces.
  • Drizzle the kewpie mayo on each piece.
  • Serve with soy sauce, pickled ginger, and wasabi paste.
Keyword Sushi
Tried this recipe?Let us know how it was!

Also read: How to cook sushi rice without a rice cooker

Cooking tips

It is possible to make this oshi sushi recipe without a wooden mold too, however, you need to make precise cuts and shape the sushi using your hands and other tools.

Make a rectangle by carefully removing about 1 cup of hot rice and placing it on a clean work surface.

To create the shape, work quickly but carefully. You can press your sushi against a baking sheet instead.

You’ll have to place the avocado and cucumber layers first, then the smoked salmon, and finally the rice on top. You’ll have to press the sushi together firmly or else it falls apart.

Small pieces can be made with the help of a good serrated knife or a special yanagiba sushi knive with holes.

In order to reduce sticking, I recommend dipping the knife in warm water between cuts. Rice tends to stick and then the box-shaped sushi can lose its shape.

Substitutions and variations

With the recipe, the shape of the sushi is important, not so much the topping ingredients.

Sushi rice is most often made from white sushi rice but you can use brown rice to make it healthier.

You can use fresh raw salmon, mackerel, crab, shrimp, imitation crab (surimi), tuna, and cooked eel (unagi).

It’s up to you what type of fish or seafood you use to make this recipe, just be sure the pieces are small so they can be pressed down firmly.

Cucumber and avocado are some of the favorite vegetables to use but I’ve seen recipes with rapini broccoli, and hot jalapeno peppers for a spicy kick.

The kewpie mayonnaise can be replaced with regular mayo or omitted entirely.

If you want, you can also add a layer of pickled ginger or wasabi paste to the salmon, avocado, and cucumber.

If you don’t have sushi vinegar on hand, you can use rice wine vinegar instead. The ratio is 1:1 but I recommend starting with less because it can be quite tart.

The amount of sugar can also be adjusted to taste. I like my sushi rice a little on the sweet side but you might prefer it without any added sweetness.

This recipe is so versatile, you can really add any of your favorite ingredients to it. Have fun with it and make it your own!

What is oshi sushi?

Oshi sushi or oshizushi is a type of pressed sushi made with a variety of ingredients, such as salmon, mackerel, rice, and vegetables.

This type of sushi originates in Osaka, Japan, and has a rectangular shape, so it’s not like the sushi rolls you’re used to eating.

Oshizushi is often served in a box-shaped container and can be customized to fit the individual’s taste.

The oshi sushi is made using a wooden mold which is called oshibako. These molds are traditionally made from cypress or cedarwood just like the sushi rice mixing tubs.

There are some cheaper options too for home use, made of pine which is just as good for shaping your pressed sushi.

Pressed sushi with mackerel is among the most popular types of oshi sushi in Japan and is commonly sold at airports, takeout restaurants, and smaller sushi establishments all over Japan, not just in the Kansai region.

So, what makes oshi sushi unique?

One of the things that makes oshi sushi unique is its presentation. It is typically served in a square or rectangular container, which is why it is also sometimes called “box sushi.”

This type of sushi can be tailored to fit the individual’s taste, so you can choose your favorite ingredients.

How to serve and eat oshi sushi

This type of sushi is often customized to fit the individual’s taste, so you can choose your favorite ingredients.

Oshizushi is typically served in a square or rectangular container and can be eaten with your hands or chopsticks.

To eat, simply break off a piece of sushi and dip it in soy sauce before eating. Oshizushi is usually garnished with pickled ginger and a bit of wasabi paste to make it spicier and truly umami.

Similar dishes

Of course, oshi sushi is very similar to the classic maki rolls. The major difference is the shape of these rectangular sushi pieces. Some people say they are much easier to eat than circular rolls.

You can say oshizushi is quite similar to nigiri. This type of sushi is also made with a rectangular or oval piece of rice, but only sashimi-grade raw fish is placed on top of the rice.

Sasazushi is another similar type of Japanese sushi. It is made with a thin slice of raw fish that is placed on top of vinegared rice, and it is wrapped in a pickled cucumber skin.

Though the ingredients may differ, all three types of sushi share one common denominator: they are all delicious! Give oshizushi a try today!

What is oshibako (oshi sushi mold)?

The oshibako is the wooden mold used to make oshi sushi.

The rectangular box is made up of three parts: the sides, the bottom, and the top.

Ideally, the box should be “seasoned” prior to its first use by submerging it in a 1 to 4 parts rice vinegar and water mixture and allowing it to soak for at least 24 hours.

The following day, it should be placed in a dish rack and allowed to dry thoroughly.

To keep the rice from sticking to the oshibako in the future, soak the oshibako in water for 20-30 minutes before each use, or line it with plastic wrap.

Molds made of plastic are now more readily available, and they are also easier to clean.

Using the Oshibako, sushi rice, condiments, and other toppings are layered on top of each other, and then pressed together with a wooden top between each layer.

After the final layer of toppings is applied, the sushi block is compressed and then sliced using the grooves visible on the box’s sides.

After that, the sushi is pushed out of the mold and given one last round of slicing before it is ready for consumption.

The history of oshi sushi

Oshi sushi is one of the most popular types of sushi and has a long history. It is originally from Osaka in Japan’s Kansai region and was invented over 400 years ago!

The rectangular shape of the sushi is due to the fact that it is made in a wooden mold, which was invented in Osaka.

Fish was salted and placed in rice as a way to preserve it through fermentation, which is how this delectable dish got its start. The fish was ready to eat as soon as the rice was removed.

Unusual development occurred in the 15th century, which allowed sushi to become a popular snack because of its combination of rice and seafood: a staple in many households.

During the Edo period between 1600 and 1867, people started making sushi without the use of fermentation. However, oshi sushi still maintained its popularity because it was easy to make and could be tailored to people’s tastes.

Oshi sushi is commonly sold at airports, takeout restaurants, and smaller sushi establishments all over Japan. It is one of the most popular types of sushi in Japan.

FAQs

Is oshi sushi healthy?

Yes, oshi sushi is healthy. It is made with a variety of wholesome ingredients, such as seafood, rice, and vegetables.

Generally, traditional Japanese sushi is healthier than its Western counterpart because it often contains raw or smoked fish, rice, one or two vegetables, and not a lot of fatty sauces.

Oshi sushi is one of the healthiest sushi types because there aren’t a lot of ingredients and the dish is low-calorie.

Why is oshi sushi so popular?

Oshi sushi is actually among the oldest types of sushi in Japan.

This packed sushi is an ancient way of preserving the fish – to avoid spoiling of the fish, it was packaged tightly in boxes full of fermented rice.

Oshi sushi is one of the most popular types of sushi due to its variety of flavors and textures. It is perfect for any sushi lover, whether you’re a beginner or an expert.

Plus, it’s a great way to try new things without having to order a bunch of different dishes.

Where can I find oshi sushi?

Oshi sushi is available at most Japanese restaurants. If you’re looking for something a little more unique, try checking out a specialty sushi restaurant. You’re sure to find something you love!

Sushi is one of my favorite foods, and oshi sushi is one of my favorite types.

Takeaway

You can find oshi sushi at most Japanese restaurants or specialty sushi places. It’s one of the most interesting types of Japanese sushi because of its rectangular boxy shape.

Making oshi sushi is a bit different from your traditional maki rolls because you need a wooden mold to press down the ingredients. But once you get the hang of it, this type of sushi is a breeze to make.

This is a tasty sushi to try if you like simple sushi with fish and minimal ingredients or if you don’t like Nori seaweed.

Don’t like cucumber? There are still a lot of sushi options you can order or make at home

Ever had trouble finding Japanese recipes that were easy to make?

We now have "cooking Japanese with ease", our full recipe book and video course with step-by-step tutorials on your favorite recipes.

Joost Nusselder, the founder of Bite My Bun is a content marketer, dad and loves trying out new food with Japanese food at the heart of his passion, and together with his team he's been creating in-depth blog articles since 2016 to help loyal readers with recipes and cooking tips.