Five-Colored Sushi

Go Shoku Chirashi-Zushi

Preparation info

  • Difficulty


  • Serves


Appears in

An American Taste of Japan

An American Taste of Japan

By Elizabeth Andoh

Published 1985

  • About

Nearly all the components of Five-Colored sushi can be made days ahead and the dish assembled at your leisure several hours before serving it. The final arrangement of multicolored garnishes in a vivid geometric design creates an impressive centerpiece for any luncheon or buffet dinner.



  • 3–4 ounces shelled fresh OR quick-frozen peas
  • 2 sheets yaki-zushi nori (toasted paper-thin seaweed)
  • 6 large circles usutamago yaki (thin omelet, finely shredded)
  • 1 cup Sweet and Sour Turnip Strips, well drained
  • 1 cup drained, julienned beni shōga (red pickled ginger)
  • 2 large smoked chubs, about 8 ounces in all, OR 1 piece smoked whitefish, 6-8 ounces
  • 1 teaspoon usukuchi shōyu (light soy sauce)
  • tablespoons white sesame seeds
  • 3–5 cups shari (rice seasoned for sushi)


In a small saucepan bring several cups of salted water to a rolling boil. Cook the fresh peas for 1½ minutes, then drain and let them cool to room temperature naturally. If using frozen peas, just place them in a strainer and pour boiling water over them. Drain well and set aside. This can be done an hour or so before serving time.

Cut the seaweed with scissors into very thin threads about 1 inch long. Cover these snugly with clear plastic wrap and set aside. These can be made up to several hours in advance.

The egg shreds can be made and refrigerated many days in advance of serving, while the pickled turnip shreds keep well for weeks and the red ginger for months, if refrigerated.

Have all five sushi garnishes ready and waiting on separate plates: the green peas, the black seaweed threads, the yellow egg shreds, the shredded white pickled turnip, and the julienne strips of red pickled ginger.

Remove all bones and skin from the smoked fish, flaking the flesh as you go; you should have about 1 cup. Place the flaked fish in a small bowl with the light soy sauce and toss until it’s well mixed and the fish has absorbed all the liquid.

In a clean, dry skillet, roast the sesame seeds over medium-high heat for 30–40 seconds until they begin to color slightly or a few pop. Shake the pan to keep the seeds in motion. Stir the roasted seeds into the seasoned smoked fish until well distributed. Gently fold the fish and sesame mixture into the seasoned rice.

Scatter the rice mixture so that it lightly covers a large plate or tray (12–20 inches in diameter). Don’t let it mound higher than inches.

The seasoned rice mixture can be made 3-4 hours in advance of serving, as long as you cover it snugly with clear plastic wrap and keep it at room temperature, away from extremes of hot or cold.

Just before you serve, garnish your sushi. There are two geometric patterns you can choose from: The first creates a multicolored striped effect, the second a wedged pattern. To create either you’ll need long cooking chopsticks, or other narrow straight guidelines, dampened with cold water so they don’t stick to the rice.

To make the stripes lay four guidelines, slightly on the diagonal and at equal intervals, over the lightly mounded rice mixture. I like to start filling in the first stripe with white pickled turnip shreds, then fill the next row with green peas. I place yellow egg shreds in the center aisle, then red pickled ginger, and finally black seaweed in the remaining row. When the stripes have been created, remove the chopsticks and touch up the border areas, if necessary.

To make a wedged pattern, place two very long chopsticks over the rice to make an X. Fill the top and bottom wedges with turnip shreds and egg shreds, respectively. Fill the right quadrant with green peas and the left with red pickled ginger. Remove the guidelines, smooth the borders, and mound the black seaweed in the very center, where the four colors merge. Serve at room temperature.