What is oshizushi?
Oshizushi (a.k.a. oshi sushi—meaning “pressed sushi” or hakozushi / hako sushi—meaning “box sushi” in Osaka) is a traditional variation of sushi pressed inside of a detachable wooden box known as an oshibako, oshizushihako, or hakozushigata. This creates a perfect rectangular or cubed shape. Known for its clean aesthetic, this block-shaped sushi can fit perfectly in a bento box and is often arranged in an eye-catching pattern.
It was first created during the 18th century in Osaka, Japan.
Pressed sushi simply consists of fish and rice without seaweed, but can be complexified with multiple layers of rice, seafood, and other sushi ingredients. One important characteristic of this type of sushi is that the fish is not raw; it is traditionally cooked or cured.
This makes it the perfect type of sushi for those who don’t like raw fish and seaweed. (However, keep in mind that contemporary sushi restaurants may take liberties in using non-traditional raw ingredients.)
A specific version that uses mackerel is called battera, which means “box cured mackerel” and is derived from the Portuguese word bateria or “small boat.” A less common variation of pressed sushi uses a cylindrical oshibako to form the sushi into a puck-like shape.
Where can I get oshizushi?
Chicago, IL: Blowfish Contemporary Sushi
New York, NY: SenYa
New Orleans, LA: Ninja Sushi
San Diego, CA (La Jolla): Roy’s
Washington D.C.: Kotobuki
Looking for more places that serve oshizushi? You can find them in this interactive map.
How can I make oshizushi?
Anyone can easily make oshizushi. If you’re simply looking to make sushi shaped into a cube, just buy some sushi at your local Japanese restaurant or market and press it into an oshibako. However, if you want to create it in a more authentic manner, here is a simple process you can follow…
- 1 cup cooked sushi rice
- 1/2 cup imitation crab (can also use cooked shrimp, or cured salmon/mackerel – sliced lengthwise)
- rice vinegar (for coating wooden oshibako and dipping fingers)
- fresh cucumber (very thinly sliced; optional)
- avocado (thinly sliced; optional)
- First, completely coat the inside of your oshibako with rice vinegar to prevent the ingredients from sticking.
- Line the bottom of the oshibako with a layer of imitation crab.
- Then, if you like, add layers of avocado and/or cucumber. (Make sure to leave room for the rice.)
- Wet your fingers with rice vinegar. Cover the ingredients with an even layer of rice…all the way into the corners. Keep the rice below the rim of the box.
- Firmly press the ingredients together with the cover of the oshibako so they are tightly packed.
- Remove the pressed sushi from the oshibako and slice into pieces.
- Arrange the pieces on a plate or in a bento box with imitation crab side up. Enjoy!
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Kristina Reynolds is the Founder & CEO of Glutto and an alumna of the University of California, San Diego. She writes articles & posts for Glutto Digest with insights from fellow industry experts. Furthermore, she is the author of The Fittest Food Lovers: How EVERY BODY Can be Incredibly Fit and Still Enjoy Food, a collaborative philanthropic book with proceeds going to charities that fight world hunger.