Oosaka sushi has a distinctive flavor profile and presentation compared to other types of sushi in Japan. It is often enjoyed as a regional specialty and can be found in various sushi restaurants in Osaka and the surrounding Kansai region. In this article, we will learn more about Oosaka sushi.
What is Oosaka sushi?
Oosaka sushi, also called Osaka-style sushi, is a special type of sushi from Osaka, Japan. It is a general term for sushi made in Osaka, which includes pressed sushi, rolled sushi, and steamed sushi. In Tokyo, sushi refers to nigiri (sushi rolls), but the representative sushi in Osaka is oshizushi (pressed sushi), which is made by layering rice and toppings and pressing them together. It’s thicker and sweeter than other sushi rice. Osaka sushi often includes cooked or marinated ingredients like grilled fish and vegetables, instead of raw fish.
Oosaka sushi History
The origin of Osaka sushi is quite interesting. Among various types of pressed sushi, one that stands out is box sushi, also known as “two-sun-rokubun kaiseki.” Initially, pressed sushi was a popular choice among common people and featured common fish like mackerel and horse mackerel. However, during the Meiji period, a sushi restaurant named “Yoshino Sushi” in Senba, Osaka, introduced boxed sushi made with high-quality ingredients like sea bream, shrimp, and conger eel. This compact, colorful sushi box, known as hakozushi, turned out to be perfect for quick meals during theater intermissions or as souvenirs. It gained immense popularity among the local community and soon became a beloved part of hospitality cuisine. As a result, it became known throughout Osaka and is sometimes referred to as Osaka sushi. Osaka sushi also encompasses various unique sushi styles, including pressed sushi, futomaki sushi, and date sushi.
Why is Oosaka Sushi unique?
Osaka sushi has a unique twist – it uses kelp stock (kombu-dashi) and a lot of sugar in its rice. The extra sugar keeps the rice moist and prevents it from getting too dry, which is important because Osaka sushi is usually served cold. But sometimes, all that sugar can make the sushi taste too sweet, and it can throw off the balance of flavors with salt and vinegar. When the sushi gets colder, the saltiness becomes even stronger. To fix this, they add dashi to keep everything in harmony and prevent spoilage, thanks to kelp’s natural preservative qualities. What’s interesting is that this sweet style isn’t limited to just Osaka sushi (hakozushi) – even Osaka’s nigiri sushi gets the sweet treatment, giving it a milder, sweet flavor.
Another thing that is unique to Oosaka sushi is that it has different types. You can choose from Maki Zushi, Mushi Zushi, and Oshi Zushi. Makizushi is a type of sushi made by wrapping vinegared rice and ingredients in sheet seaweed like a roll cake, which locals called “nori-maki.” While the Mushi zushi‘s ingredients are usually sea eel, shrimp, and other ingredients that are served steamed. Then, Oshi-zushi is a type of Sushi and made by pressing sushi rice and toppings in a special mould called ‘Oshibako’ to create a rectangle block.
How to eat?
Eating and enjoying Osaka sushi is a delicious process. First, you prepare the sushi rice, season each ingredient with a tasty dashi or broth, and add a touch of vinegar. Then, you take a wooden frame and layer it with sushi rice. You also add tamagoyaki and the other ingredients on top, cover it with a lid, and press it firmly. Afterwards, you cut it into bite-sized pieces and arranged them neatly in a box. The cool thing is, that this method seals out the air, giving it a longer shelf life and preserving its flavors. Plus, if you let it sit for a while after making it, the sushi rice and ingredients blend together, making it even more delicious over time.
Oosaka sushi FAQ
- How is Oosaka sushi differ from other sushi types?
Osaka sushi is distinct in its pressed, layered, and cooked approach, offering a different taste and presentation compared to traditional Edo-style sushi found in other parts of Japan. It’s a delightful regional variation with a sweet and savory twist that has its own special place in Japanese culinary culture.
- What are the key ingredients and toppings used in Osaka sushi?
It typically starts with vinegared rice seasoned with a mixture of rice vinegar, sugar, and salt to create a sweet and savory base. What sets Osaka sushi apart is its emphasis on cooked or marinated ingredients like grilled fish (mackerel or eel), tamagoyaki (sweet Japanese omelet), shrimp, conger eel, and marinated vegetables.
Oosaka sushi Recipe
Oosaka sushi Ingredients
|Ingredients of Oosaka sushi for 4 persons||Measurements|
|[Sushi rice] Rice||300g|
|[Sushi rice] Dashi kelp||5g|
|[Mixed Vinegar A] Vinegar||56g|
|[Mixed Vinegar A] Sugar||21g|
|[Vinegar combination A]||7g|
|[C] Dashi soup||7g|
|Grilled conger eel||200g|
|[D] Dashi soup||70g|
|[D] Dark soy sauce||28g|
|[E] Dipping soup||100g|
|[E] Dark soy sauce||14g|
How to make Oosaka sushi?
Devein the shrimp and wash them with water. Insert a bamboo skewer from the tail to the ventral side, then boil with salt. Once cooled, remove the skewers, peel the shells, soak in the vinegar mixture from [B] for 5 to 6 minutes, and then cut into two slices. Season the eggs with [C] and bake to a thickness of about 2cm. Boil the grilled conger eel in [D] for about 10 minutes and leave it to cool in the broth. Soak the shiitake mushrooms in water, boil them in [E] to absorb the flavor, and then chop them into pieces.
Cut the prepared shrimp, eggs, and conger eel into rectangular pieces according to the size of the sushi mold. Wet a sushi mold with water, cut it to the size of the sushi mold, and line it with leaf orchid moistened with vinegar and water. Fill the mold evenly with sushi rice, top it with the tamagoyaki, colorful shrimp, and another layer of leaf orchid. Cover it with a press and apply even pressure.
In a similar manner, create two more layers using the remaining sushi rice, shiitake mushrooms for one layer, and roasted nori with small sea bream pickled in sasama for another. After each layer, add leaf orchid and press. Finally, cut each of the three sushi layers into six equal pieces and arrange each type on the plate for a delightful presentation.
Where to buy Oosaka sushi?
This is a famous mackerel sushi restaurant located right in front of Yasaka Shrine. The mackerel here is moist, fatty, and delicious. However, the vinegared rice was like a soft rice ball, and the vinegar was too strong, so it blend well with the mackerel. In addition, cooked shiitake mushrooms are an important component of the taste of Kansai sushi.
This is a Kyoto sushi restaurant founded in 1954. There are many long-established stores in Kyoto, so it feels like a relatively new store. Furthermore, this is located near Kyoto’s kitchen, Nishiki Market. Now, their mackerel sushi is very different from regular mackerel sushi. The vinegared rice is light and gentle, so you can fully enjoy the flavor of the mackerel. The sweetness and rich flavor coexist, and the vinegar and salt are finely supported.
Suehiro (京のすし処 末廣壽司)
This is a long-established Kyoto sushi restaurant founded in the Tenpo era. Their Mackerel stick sushi has a very neat and dignified appearance. It has a firm texture, but the meat is plump and moist. A delicious mackerel that is full of fat and has an enjoyable aroma. The sweetness of the kelp, and the sweetness and sourness of the vinegared rice were all integrated, this mackerel stick sushi had an excellent taste.
Oosaka sushi, with its unique characteristics and regional flavors, offers a delightful departure from traditional sushi styles. The combination of sweet and savory elements, the creative use of ingredients, and the distinctive presentation make Osaka sushi a culinary treasure in the rich tapestry of Japanese cuisine. We hope this article has given you valuable insights into the world of Osaka sushi, its ingredients, and its meticulous preparation.
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