Salmon sushi bake is a marriage of creaminess, buttery rich salmon, tangy sushi rice drizzled with sweet teriyaki sauce, and the perpetually popular favorite, Kewpie mayonnaise. A perfect dish for potluck parties that your family and friends will definitely enjoy!
What is Salmon Sushi Bake?
Salmon sushi baked rice is a unique and convenient take on traditional sushi and is reminiscent of the beloved California maki roll. It is a layer of sushi ingredients in a casserole-style dish and then baked until warm through.
The rise in sushi bake's fame happened on social media platforms, especially on TikTok, Instagram Reels, and YouTube Shorts, which played a big part in making it popular.
Here's why it became so popular and why everyone, including myself, loves it:
- Easy and more convenient to make than traditional sushi.
- Rich and buttery. This salmon sushi bake recipe features the rich buttery flavor of fresh salmon. It is creamier compared to canned tuna.
- Versatile and customizable.
- Family and kid-friendly rice casserole dish - It's sweet, savory, and creamy. With no hints of spiciness, it's a sure hit for your kids to enjoy!
What you need
Here are the main ingredients of salmon sushi bake:
For sushi bake, traditional Japanese short-grain rice is recommended. The key characteristics of sushi rice are its slightly sweet taste and the ability to absorb vinegar, which gives it the distinctive flavor and glossy appearance commonly associated with sushi.
While traditional sushi rice is recommended for making sushi bake due to its sticky texture and ability to hold together well, 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 and taste compared to using traditional sushi rice.
Salmon Sushi Mixture
To make the sushi salmon mixture, you will need:
- Fresh salmon - use fresh salmon fillets with skin on. Remove the pin bones (long, thin, needle-like bones).
- 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
- 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.
Family-friendly Sauce for Sushi Bake
Compared to the usual sushi bake recipe that uses sriracha, this recipe uses thickened teriyaki sauce as its base flavor. Its sweet, savory flavor goes so well with the salmon and balances the creaminess of the cream cheese and mayonnaise.
I recommend using any of these two options:
I personally find homemade teriyaki sauce better tasting than store-bought. So that's what I used in this recipe. If you have all the ingredients, I highly recommend making it from scratch. It's well worth the effort and keeps well in the fridge so you can use it for other dishes.
Bottled Unagi Sauce
Opting for store-bought sauce works well too and is of course a convenient choice. Use eel sauce (also called unagi sauce) instead of bottled teriyaki sauce. It's sweeter, smoother, and thicker in texture.
💭 Top Tip: When selecting the sauce, it's recommended to check that there's no ginger flavor mentioned on the label. Ginger could potentially overpower the sushi mixture.
How to Make Salmon Sushi Bake
And here's how to make the best salmon sushi bake:
- 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.
- Cook the salmon in the oven or air-fryer. The doneness should be medium (slightly undercooked), to keep it moist yet still flaky. Drizzle it with a touch of lemon juice to mitigate any fishy notes, along with a sprinkle of salt and black pepper.
- 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 😉
- Use a spatula to flatten and compact the sushi rice in a greased baking dish, and then sprinkle more furikake for good measure!
- Spread the salmon sushi mixture over the rice as evenly as you can. Press it down firmly to create a compact layer ensuring it holds together, preventing it from falling apart when serving.
- Cooking time may vary. 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 a convection oven or an oven air-fryer.
How to Serve
Add an extra drizzle of Kewpie mayonnaise and unagi sauce over the baked salmon sushi. Complete the presentation with a sprinkling of sesame seeds, and furikake, along with Japanese cucumbers and avocado slices.
Using a sharp knife, carefully slice the sushi bake into individual portions. A serrated knife can work well for this.
Gently lift each portion using a spatula or a wide knife and transfer it to serving plates with nori sheets or Japanese seaweed snacks for convenience. Wrap it like a deconstructed sushi roll and enjoy!
What to Serve with
Salmon sushi bake is good on its own but you can also complement it with a variety of side dishes to create a well-rounded meal.
Here are some options:
- Miso Soup
- Seaweed Salad
- Pickled Vegetables
- Side Salad
- Japanese Green Tea
🌶🌶 Want a hit of spice? Drizzle with spicy mayo. Just combine the Japanese mayo with sriracha or sweet chili sauce and you're good!
Make Ahead Tips
Making salmon sushi bake ahead of time for parties like Thanksgiving and Christmas is an excellent strategy to save time and alleviate stress on the event day.
To make ahead:
- Assemble and layer the sushi bake.
- Partially baked in the oven. The goal is for it to be partially cooked, nearly done but not fully set.
- Let it cool completely then cover the baking dish securely with plastic wrap or aluminum foil to shield it from air exposure.
- Place in the fridge for up to two days. You can also freeze it for a few weeks but you need to use a freezer-safe baking dish.
- On the day of the party, thaw overnight and bring it out of the fridge 30 minutes before baking.
- When you're ready to serve, preheat the oven and finish baking the sushi bake until it's thoroughly heated through, with the top turning golden and slightly crispy.
Sushi Salmon Bake
- 6 oz salmon fillet (skin on)
- 1 teaspoon lemon juice (optional)
- 1 teaspoon oil
- ¼ teaspoon salt
- black pepper (to taste)
- 6 oz imitation crab (shredded and chopped)
- ½ cup cream cheese (softened)
- ½ cup Kewpie mayonnaise (Japanese mayo) (plus more for serving)
- 4 stalks green onion/scallions (chopped, divided)
- ⅓ cup furikake (divided)
- ½ cup homemade teriyaki sauce (or bottled unagi sauce, divided, note 3)
- 1 teaspoon vegetable oil (I used sesame oil)
- seaweed snacks (or nori sheets)
- Japanese cucumber (optional)
- avocado (optional)
- 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).1 cup uncooked rice, 1 cup water
- 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 some furikake and mix again. Set aside.¼ cup rice vinegar, 2 teaspoon sugar, 1 teaspoon salt
- Preheat oven or air-fryer to 400°F/ 200°C. Rub salmon fillet with lemon juice and oil. Sprinkle salt and pepper.6 oz salmon fillet, 1 teaspoon lemon juice, 1 teaspoon oil, ¼ teaspoon salt, black pepper
- Bake for 6 to 8 minutes. We need it to be slightly undercooked or in medium doneness. You can also pan-fry the salmon if preferred.
- Remove the skin from the cooked salmon. Place in a large bowl and flake with a fork. Add the shredded crab, green onions, Kewpie mayo, cream cheese, and half of the teriyaki sauce. Mix until smooth.
Assembly and Baking
- Brush the baking dish with vegetable oil. Spread sushi rice and flatten using a spatula. Sprinkle the remaining furikake.
- Top with salmon-crab sushi mixture. Spread as evenly as possible then gently press down to help compact the mixture.
- Bake for 12 to 15 minutes to heat through. I like mine to have a little color on top so I bake for 15 minutes, using either a convection oven or oven air-fryer.
- Drizzle remaining teriyaki sauce and Kewpie mayo. Drizzle with more green onions and furikake. Top with slices of avocado or Japanese cucubmer.
- Scoop and wrap with sheets of seaweed snack. Serve 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.
- Bottled Unagi Sauce - Use eel sauce (also called unagi sauce) instead of bottled teriyaki sauce. It's sweeter, smoother, and thicker in texture. When selecting the sauce, it's recommended to check that there's no ginger flavor mentioned on the label. Ginger could potentially overpower the sushi mixture.
- Variation - make it spicy by using spicy mayo. Just combine the kewpie mayonnaise with sriracha or sweet chili sauce. Stir until smooth and creamy.
- Nutrition - approximate calculation per slice excluding avocado and cucumber.
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