Chirashi sushi, a type of bowl with rice and sushi toppings, is now also available in Germany as a one of the different forms of sushi quite well known. However, there are two types of chirashi sushi. In both, the rice is served in a bowl or a special box. The ingredients are either sprinkled on top of the rice or stirred under the rice.
And this is exactly where the name of the chirashi sushi (ちらし寿司) comes from: The Japanese verb chirasu (散らす) means nothing more than "to distribute" (Source).
Two kinds of chirashi sushi
In Japan, a distinction is made between chirashi sushi from the Kanto region (around Tokyo) and chirashi sushi from the Kansai region (around Osaka). Chirashi sushi from the Kanto region is also called nama chirashi (生ちらし), while chirashi sushi from the Kansai region is called gomoku chirashi (五目ちらし).
What is chirashi sushi or nama chirashi?
Chirashi sushi consists of raw sushi toppings cut into small pieces, as we know them from nigiri sushi. The small, very colorful pieces are scattered on the leavened rice, which creates a beautiful picture. Chirashi sushi is especially popular for the Doll Festival on March 3, Hinamatsuri, as well as served at family gatherings.
It is not known where the custom originated or how long chirashi sushi has existed in Japan. Since Hinamatsuri is traditionally considered a celebration of girls, especially colorful arrangements are common for chirashi sushi.
Nama-chirashi became really popular after the Meiji period (1868-1912) as a descendant of edomae sushi (江戸前寿司). Typically, a wide variety of fresh fish or seafood is used. Sometimes you read the term fukiyose sushi (吹き寄せ寿司) in this context. "Fukiyose" means to combine several things into one.
How to eat nama chirashi?
The best way to eat chirashi sushi is to pick up a piece of neta (topping) with your chopsticks, dip it in the soy sauce (on a separate small plate), put it back on the rice, and eat it all together (Source).
What is Gomoku-Chirashi?
Gomoku-Chirashi consists of various ingredients that are first cooked (prepared) and then mixed with the vinegar-sour rice. It is believed that gomoku chirashi has been known since the Kamakura period. The word "gomoku" literally means "five parts." However, it can also mean a whole range of things.
Gomoku chirashi consists of a variety of prepared and seasoned ingredients: shiitage, egg, kanpyo, lotus root and carrots, peas and more, which were mixed into the rice.
Sometimes you can also find the terms Maze Sushi (混ぜ寿司) or Bara Sushi (ばら寿司) for Gomoku Sushi.
The verb "mazeru" means to mix, the verb "barasu" means to divide something into parts.
Nowadays, however, the term bara-chirashi is also used when raw fish in small cubes is mixed in or sprinkled over the sushi rice. The boundaries between the different types of chirashi sushi are becoming increasingly blurred.
Important to know: Gomoku chirashi is not served with soy sauce, because the individual ingredients are already seasoned.