Introducing a fresh take on the viral sensation sushi bake – presenting sushi bake cups! Imagine the flavors of your favorite sushi roll, thoughtfully layered in a convenient cup form. An ideal choice to kickstart gatherings or as an appetizer for a nice home-cooked meal.
What you need
Here are the ingredients you need to make sushi bake cups:
- Rice - for sushi bake cups, traditional Japanese short-grain rice is recommended. You can use regular white rice as a substitute. Keep in mind that using regular white rice like Jasmine rice might result in a slightly different overall texture.
- Frozen Shrimp - Use small to medium-sized frozen shrimp as they have a better shelf-life than fresh shrimp.
- Imitation crab meat stick - Much more affordable and convenient to use than real crab. You can find this in the cold section of most grocery stores and Asian markets.
- Kewpie Mayonnaise - Also referred to as Japanese mayo, can be found in online shops and Asian markets. For best results, look for a bottle that is specifically labeled "made in Japan".
- Cream Cheese - You can use block cream cheese or cream cheese spread. This is the secret to a moist and creamier sushi bake.
- Sriracha - Contains ingredients like garlic, vinegar, and chilies, which contribute to its umami-rich and tangy flavor to the other ingredients.
- Furikake - A Japanese rice seasoning made of delicious stuff 😉
- Green Onions - For crunchy texture, color, and mild onion taste.
- Nori Sheets - Use roasted nori sheets, labeled sushi sheets. Seaweed snacks may be too fragile and small to be used to make the cups.
How to Make Sushi Bake Cups
And here's how to make it:
Prepare the rice by cooking it in a pot on the stovetop or using a rice cooker for added convenience. Maintain a 1:1 water ratio. It's important that the rice retains a slightly dry texture, as it will be combined with vinegar in the subsequent steps.
Make the sushi rice - Once the rice is cooked, make it into sushi rice by incorporating rice vinegar, sugar, and salt. To make it extra flavorful, sprinkle crushed seaweed sheets or furikake, a Japanese rice seasoning made of delicious stuff 😉
To make the shrimp mixture - combine the raw shrimp, shredded imitation crab, cream cheese, Japanese mayo, garlic powder, salt, and sriracha.
You have the option to retain the shrimp whole or, in the case of larger shrimp, cut them into bite-sized pieces. Gently mix all the ingredients until a creamy consistency is achieved.
1. Measure and Cut
Measure the width of your muffin tin cups. Typically, a standard nori sheet can be divided into four equal strips, each approximately the width of the muffin tin cup. Use kitchen scissors or a sharp knife to cut the nori sheet into strips along its length. Make sure the strips are wide enough to cover the entire depth of the muffin tin cup.
2. Grease the Muffin Pan (Optional)
Lightly grease the inside of each muffin cup with cooking spray or a small amount of oil. This can help prevent sticking and make it easier to remove the nori cups later.
3. Shape the Nori Cups
Arrange the nori squares in a crisscross pattern within each muffin tin cup, ensuring they overlap slightly at the ends if required.
Gently spoon a portion of sushi rice onto the nori base, then gently press down ensuring the nori adheres to the sides and bottom of the muffin tin to maintain its form.
4. Repeat and Fill
Repeat the process for the rest of the cupcake tin. Once the sushi cups are formed, fill them with the shrimp and crab mixture with roughly 2 pieces of shrimp.
💭 Top Tip: Be careful not to overload the cups or it might lead to ingredients spilling over the edges. Also If the ingredients release excess moisture during baking, an overfilled cup might become soggy or mushy.
Bake for 12 to 15 minutes until warmed through or bake a little longer for up to 20 minutes until crisp and golden in color. You can use using either an oven or an oven air-fryer.
Sauce for Sushi Bake Cups
For these shrimp sushi bake cups, I opted for a sweet, spicy, and creamy sauce made of Kewpie mayonnaise and Thai sweet chili sauce. It turned out so good! Perfectly complemented the shrimp and crab and crisp nori sheets.
How to Serve
Allow the baked sushi cups a bit of time to cool down, reaching that just-warm sweet spot, and then serve while the nori sheets are still crisp. Garnish with chopped green onions, and sesame seeds, and then drizzle with the sweet-spicy mayo sauce.
Shelf-life and Storage
Store left-over sushi bake cups in an airtight container. It should last in the refrigerator for 1 to 2 days.
Reheating: If you need to reheat the sushi bake cups, do so gently in an oven at a low temperature to avoid overcooking. Reheating in a microwave may result in the nori sheets becoming soggy.
If you prefer a non-spicy version of these sushi bake cups, consider substituting sriracha and sweet chili sauce with sweet teriyaki sauce or store-bought eel sauce.
Making ahead sushi bake cups can be a great way to streamline your meal preparation, especially during big gatherings and parties like Thanksgiving and Christmas.
Here are some tips to ensure your sushi bake cups remain delicious when made in advance:
Prep Components Separately
If you want to get a head start, you can prepare the shrimp mixture, sushi rice, and sauce in advance. Keep them refrigerated in separate airtight containers. Assemble the cups by layering the components just before baking.
Nori sheets can become soft when exposed to moisture, so it's best to add them to the cups just before assembling. This ensures they maintain their crunchiness.
💭 Important: Note that raw shrimp is highly perishable and both mayonnaise and cream cheese contain ingredients like eggs and dairy, which are susceptible to spoilage.
If making ahead, keep the raw shrimp mixture refrigerated at all times ideally at a temperature of 32°F to 38°F (0°C to 3.3°C). It should only last for 1 to 2 days.
If the shrimp was fresh when purchased, it's best to use it within the first day to ensure optimal quality and safety.
Assemble Before Baking
While you can prepare the components ahead, it's best to assemble the cups shortly before baking. This helps maintain the texture of the nori sheets and the freshness of the ingredients.
Sushi Bake Cups with Shrimp and Crab
- 6 nori sheets
To Serve (optional)
- Japanese cucumber (optional)
- avocado (optional)
- sesame seeds
- Cook the rice - Wash rice 1 to 2 times with tap water. Drain well. Cook with water based on your preferred method (rice cooker or stovetop).
- Make sushi rice - In a large bowl, place vinegar, sugar, and salt. Stir to combine. Add cooked rice while still hot. Using a spatula gently incorporate the vinegar mixture into the rice. Sprinkle ½ furikake and mix again. Set aside.
Shrimp Sushi Mixture
- Pat dry shrimp with a paper towel. Place in a large bowl. Season with salt and garlic powder. Stir to combine.
- Add the shredded crab, green onions, Kewpie mayo, cream cheese, and sriracha. Mix until creamy.
Assembly and Baking
- Preheat oven or air-fryer oven to 400°F/ 200°C.
- Cut each nori sheet into 4 equal squares.
- Arrange TWO nori squares in a crisscross pattern in a muffin tin cup, ensuring they overlap slightly at the ends if required.
- Gently spoon a heaping tablespoon of sushi rice onto the nori base, then gently press down ensuring the nori adheres to the bottom of the muffin cup to maintain its form.
- Fill with the shrimp mixture with roughly 2 pieces of shrimp. Repeat for the rest of the muffin cups.
- Bake for 12 to 15 minutes to heat through. I like mine to have a golden color on top so I bake for 20 minutes, using either a convection oven or oven air-fryer.
- Combine Kewpie mayonnaise (Japanese mayo) and sweet chili sauce in a small bowl. Stir until smooth and well combined. Do a taste test. Add more mayonnaise or chili sauce depending on your taste preference.
- Drizzle with the sweet-spicy mayo sauce then finally sprinkle some green onions and remaining furikake. Top with slices of avocado or Japanese cucumber if preferred.
- Serve warm and enjoy!
Recipe Notes and Tips:
- Rice - measured using baking cups and not the cup that came with the rice cooker.
- Rice Vinegar - you can substitute with Marukan seasoned rice vinegar. Omit salt and or use less sugar.
- Shrimp - cut into bit size pieces if using large shrimp.
- Variation - If you prefer a non-spicy version, substitute sriracha, and sweet chili sauce with sweet teriyaki sauce or store-bought bottled eel sauce.
- Nutrition - approximate calculation per cup excluding avocado and cucumber.
Riverten Kitchen is a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for sites to earn advertising fees by advertising and linking to amazon.com