[food]* Chirashizushi, literally "scattered sushi", refers to sushi rice with a variety of ingredients mixed in. A very common dish, and found in distinct forms across the country.
As the name (literally "mixed" or "scattered" sushi) suggests, chirashizushi is sushi rice, mixed or topped with a variety of ingredients. The most common form you'll see is the so-called edomae "Edo-style" chirashizushi - where a selection of largely fresh, raw ingredients, usually seafood, is sliced and served simply on top of the rice.
In the Kansai region, however, "chirashizushi" will likely refer more to gomokuzushi, where cooked ingredients are mixed in the body of the rice, in the style of Chinese stir fried rice.
The precise "origin" of chirashizushi is under dispute, but its popularisation across the country seems to have links with the Hina-matsuri or Doll Festival, held in Japan every year in honour of the coming-of-age of young girls. Chirashizushi is often served during this festival, with the variety of ingredients said to symbolise a wish for prosperity and beauty in later life for the daughters.
Most mid-range sushi restaurants will have some form of chirashizushi option available.
Since the ingredients are left to the chef's discretion, at a decent location chirashizushi allows the restaurant to showcase its freshest ingredients: I personally love it, and think it's a great way of trying a variety of fish in one go. As with all sushi, just be careful where you eat, especially overseas. ♥♥♥
(We first try chirashizushi in Asahikawa (Day 17) - blog post coming soon! Stay tuned!)
What do you think about chirashizushi, and how would you compare it to "traditional" sushi? Any favourite sushi places in Japan, or elsewhere? Comment below or Twitter / twitter.com/foodjapan