This easy-to-make potluck recipe is a sterling example of local ingenuity. Think of it as a sushi roll without the rolling, or in haole terms: sushi casserole.
The first time I remember having it was when my older brother, Jeremy, started dating Allison, who is now my sister-in-law. Allison’s family is Japanese, so at parties they’d sometimes bring a big pan of vinegar-seasoned sushi rice layered with salmon, avocado, mushrooms, and pickled vegetables. It immediately captured me.
The variations for pan sushi are endless. Some line the pan with sheets of nori. Some alternate layers of rice and fillings, lasagna-style. My method leans simpler: a single layer of rice spread with spicy salmon “dynamite” and topped with scallions, avocado, and a sweet soy glaze, an ode to the flavor-bomb rolls found at American-style sushi bars.
If you’re using canned salmon, broiling the dynamite mixture is optional, but I find it helps marry the ingredients in the sauce. As for the nori sheets, instead of layering them into the rice, I like to serve them on the side so they stay crisp. Scoop spoonfuls of pan sushi onto the dried seaweed and eat it like a hand roll or taco.
- In a small bowl, combine the mushrooms and warm water to cover. Let soak until soft, 10 to 15 minutes. Drain and squeeze out excess water. Cut off and discard any stems. Finely chop the caps and set aside.
- In a small saucepan, combine the vinegar, sugar, mirin, and salt. Heat over medium-high heat, stirring until the salt is dissolved, then let cool slightly. In a bowl, pour the warm vinegar mixture over the rice evenly, using the back of a rice paddle or spatula to deflect the stream and spread it out. Mix thoroughly. Spread the rice evenly onto the bottom of a 9 x 9-inch baking pan (the rice should be about ¾ inch deep), gently but firmly using a paddle or spatula to compact the rice.
- Adjust an oven rack to 6 inches from the broiler element and preheat the broiler.
- Rinse out the rice bowl and use it to stir together the salmon, mayo, onion, shoyu, sambal, sweet chili sauce, oyster sauce, sesame oil, the rehydrated mushrooms, and masago until thoroughly combined. Spread the mixture evenly onto the rice, gently but firmly pressing down with a paddle or spatula. Broil until the top is lightly browned, 6 to 8 minutes. Remove the pan and let it cool slightly.
- Top with the scallions and sliced avocado. Drizzle with sweet soy glaze. Cut the sushi into small squares and serve with dried sheets of nori on the side, for wrapping.
- In a small saucepan, combine the shoyu and sugar and cook over medium-low heat until the sugar dissolves and starts to bubble. In a small bowl, stir the cornstarch together with 1 tablespoon water until dissolved, then stir it into the shoyu-sugar mixture. Continue cooking until the mixture is thick enough to coat the back of a spoon, 5 to 10 minutes. Let cool before using.
Reprinted with permission from Cook Real Hawai’i by Sheldon Simeon and Garrett Snyder, copyright © 2021. Published by Clarkson Potter/Publishers, an imprint of Penguin Random House. Photography copyright: Kevin J. Miyazaki © 2021