Sake Zushi (酒ずし)

    Have you ever had sushi? Do you like sushi? There are many kinds of sushi in Japan. There is the famous Edomae Sushi and the lesser known Sake Zushi, which we will introduce here. Why don’t you try different kinds of sushi? In this article, we will introduce you to Sake Zushi. 

    What is Sake Zushi?

    Sake zushi (酒ずし) is a traditional dish from Kagoshima, Japan. It is a type of sushi made by fermenting fish, vegetables, and rice with sake lees (酒粕) or sake, which are the lees left over from the production of sake. The dish has a unique flavor and aroma that comes from the fermentation process.

    Sake Zushi was once a spring delicacy eaten at cherry blossom viewing parties. It is made by carefully preparing spring ingredients such as sea bream, bamboo shoots, and tree buds and using them extravagantly. Nowadays, it is not eaten frequently due to the time-consuming preparation, but it is made by combining various seasonal ingredients and eaten at gatherings where many people come together, such as celebratory occasions.

    It is a rare delicacy that requires a lot of preparation and tools, such as a lacquered sushi tub and seasonal delicacies. Many people in Kagoshima have heard of it but never tasted it, so it is only available at a few local restaurants that require advance reservations. Higashi Shuzo Co., Ltd., a brewer of kurozake (akumochizake), which is an essential ingredient for sakezushi, organizes events such as sakezushi tasting and cooking classes to preserve and promote this regional cuisine with a long history.

    Sake-zushi has a sweet and rich aroma, and the different textures of the ingredients serve as an accent in the smooth and mellow flavor, making it a delicious dish that you will want to eat more and more. The scent of the wood leaves that lingers in your nose is refreshing, and the aftertaste is refreshing. However, since it uses plenty of sake, it will definitely make you drunk when you eat it.

    Sake Zushi

    History of Sake Zushi

    Sake-zushi has a history dating back to the Edo period. It is a dish similar to oshizushi, which is made by sprinkling sake on rice and sprinkling sea and mountain vegetables and seasonal ingredients over the rice and letting it ferment for about half a day.

    In those days, women were not allowed to drink alcohol in front of men because of the male-dominated society. However, they wanted to drink during Hanami, a cherry blossom viewing party. Since it was considered impolite to drink without proper ceremony, they mixed sake with sushi. It is a funny episode that the reason why such a large amount of alcohol was added to “sake-zushi” was because “the women wanted to get drunk.”

    FAQ of Sake Sushi

    What is in sake zushi?

    Dried radish, bamboo shoots, dipping sauce, fish, and shrimp are some of the about 10 different ingredients that go into sake zushi along with rice coated in local sake. (haimochi-shu).

    What kind of sake is used in sake zushi?

    Sake-zushi is made with akumochi zake, a distinctive Kagoshima sake, but in some cases regular sake is also acceptable.

    Sake Zushi Recipe

    Sake Sushi Ingredients

    Ingredients for 4 peopleMeasurements
    rice4 cups
    kiriboshi-daikon (dried daikon radish)15 g
    dried shiitake mushrooms4-5
    boiled mushrooms200 g
    tsuwabuki (Japanese snow fungus)70 g
    satsuma-age (deep-fried fish paste)100g
    red kababoko100g
    mitsuba leaves1
    Thinly fried egg2 eggs
    2 teaspoons sugar
    1/2 teaspoon salt
    2 teaspoons black sake
    sea bream (for sashimi)100 g
    squid (for sashimi)100 g
    small shrimps10
    sprouts of the Japanese zelkova treeA few
    Aspidistra elatior2 or 3 leaves
    Recipe from

    How to make Sake zushi

    Preparation before start cooking sake sushi

    • Cook rice with 1.5 teaspoons salt and 1 tablespoon black rice wine until firm, then spread out and let cool.
    • Mix 3 cups of black rice wine with 1 teaspoon of salt and divide into 4 equal portions.
    • Return the Kiriboshi daikon to the water, add 1 cup of broth and 1.5 teaspoons of black sake, Allow to cool and cut into 1-2 cm lengths.
    • Soak dried shiitake mushrooms in water, cut into thin strips, add 100 cc of broth, 1 tablespoon sugar and 1 tablespoon soy sauce, Boil with 100 cc of broth, 1 tablespoon sugar, 1.5 tablespoons soy sauce, and 2 tablespoons black sake, and set aside to cool.
    • Cut the boiled bamboo shoots into strips about 2 mm thick, Boil in 1 cup soup stock, 1 tablespoon black sake, 2 teaspoons sugar, and 1/2 teaspoon salt, make it cool.
    • Cook and peel tsuwa, add 1 cup stock, 1 tablespoon black sake, 1/2 teaspoon salt and 1 tablespoon soy sauce, Season with 1 cup stock, 1 tablespoon black sake, 1/2 teaspoon salt and 2 teaspoons soy sauce, Allow to cool and cut into small pieces.
    • Cut satsuma age into small pieces about 2 to 3 mm thick.
    • Cut fish paste and kogayaki into 1.5 cm strips.
    • Dip mitsuba in boiling water, cool under cold water, drain and cut into 1cm pieces.
    • Cut egg into 1cm square diamond shapes.
    • Lightly salt sea bream and let rest for a while, then cut into thin diagonal slices.
    • Lightly salt the squid, let it rest for a while and cut it into thin strips.
    • Cook the shrimps, remove the heads and shells and cut them in half.
    • Rinse sprouts in cold water, drain and set aside.
    • Rinse and drain the orchids.

    Cooking Steps


    Sprinkle the bottom of the tub with purifying salt, spread 1/4 of the rice on a flat surface, and arrange the mountain vegetables (dried radish, shiitake mushrooms, bamboo shoots, and Japanese knotweed).


    Spread 1/4 of the rice and arrange the fish paste and mitsuba.


    Spread 1/4 of the rice and arrange the seafood (half each of sea bream and squid).


    Spread 1/4 of the rice and arrange colorful ingredients (thinly sliced egg, sea bream, squid, shrimp, bamboo shoots, and sprouts) on the surface.


    Place a leaf orchid (back side up so that the veins do not stick to the leaf), cover with a lid, and place a weight on the top of the vat so that the black sake is just above the top of the vat.


    After about 6 hours, divide the black liquor by cutting it lengthwise with a rice scoop, mix it in an empty space in the vat, and put it on a plate.

    Sakezushi: Where to Enjoy This Unique Sushi in Kagoshima

    If you are looking for a place to try this delicious and nutritious dish, here are some of the best restaurants in Kagoshima that serve sakezushi!

    Kumasotei – 正調さつま料理 熊襲亭

    Established in 1966, this local restaurant has been passing down the flavors of Satsuma to the next generation. We offer authentic Satsuma dishes such as Kurobuta Tonkotsu, Kibinago, Satsuma-age, Sake Sushi, Jidori Chicken Tataki, Kurobuta Shabu Shabu, and other courses. In addition to courses, the restaurant also offers a wide variety of a la carte and seasonal dishes.

    Phone number: 099-226-2233
    Address: 6-10 , Higashi sengokucho, Kagoshima city, Kagoshima prefecture 892-0842
    Opening hours: Monday through Sunday from 11:00 – 14:00 | 17:00 – 21:30.

    Ikkou – いっこう

    Ikko is a sushi and seafood bar located near Kagoshima Chuo Station. The restaurant offers fresh fish and is located in a representative area of Kagoshima with convenient access to JR Kyushu, trams, buses, etc. [1^] The menu includes sashimi platters, sushi, grilled dishes, and other delicious delicacies. The menu includes sashimi platters, sushi, grilled dishes, and other delicious delicacies. Kagoshima shochu and sake are also available.

    Phone number: 099-259-3415
    Address: BRANIFF Building 2F, 12-18, Chuo-Cho, Kagoshima city, Kagoshima prefecture 890-0053
    Opening hours: Monday through Saturday from 17:30 – 00:00.

    These are some of the best places to enjoy sakezushi in Kagoshima. Sakezushi is a unique and delicious dish that showcases the local culture and cuisine of Kagoshima. If you are visiting this prefecture, don’t miss the chance to try it.


    Sake-zushi, although named sushi, is a food similar to chirashi-zushi. It is a traditional dish, and you will not find many restaurants in Tokyo that sell it, so if you have a chance to visit Kagoshima, I highly recommend you try it.

    Check below for chirashi sushi and other sushi.

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