Oshizusi is a traditional Japanese food that has still not become popular outside of the island country the way other sushi dishes have. Get ahead of the curve by learning how to create this pressed sushi cake delicacy with our easy to follow recipe.

Contributed by Naoko’s Kitchen

For those of you looking for a Japanese dish that impresses your dinner party guests, this is the recipe to try! Most westerners are familiar with nigiri sushi, which is sushi with fresh fish or seafood sitting on top of a bed of rice. But oshizushi is a popular part of authentic Japanese food culture that has not broken into the global scene yet. The good news is that you can make it yourself at home with our recipe and video. We are sure that oshizushi will soon become one of your favorites go-to recipes when guests want something quick, unique, and delicious.

What is Oshizushi?

Oshizushi translates to pressed sushi cake. Different ingredients are pressed together in layers in a mold along with sushi rice. The result is a yummy cake that includes everything you want in a Japanese plate but a new form. There are many different kinds of oshizushi because different regions use their ingredients. Iwakuni Zushi, for example, from Yamaguchi Prefecture, is made with lotus root and denbu (seasoned mashed fish). Kakuzushi, from Hiroshima Prefecture, is made with mackerel, shiitake mushrooms, and clams.

One of the main differences between oshizushi and other forms of sushi is that it tends to use dried and pickled ingredients. This is because oshizushi is often packaged after it is prepared, and so is meant to last longer. A commonplace to find oshizushi in Japan, for example, is at the bullet train stations, where it sells bento box meals, known as ekiben. Oshizushi is a great portable meal, meaning you can also try preparing it for lunch boxes.

How to Use a Sushi Mold

Making your oshizushi requires getting your hands on an oshibako box, also known as a sushi box mold. These are available at Asian grocery stores and even online through Amazon.com and are quite inexpensive. Both wooden and plastic silicon models are available, and although wood is more traditional, you can coat the plastic one with oil to be less sticky. The trick here is creating the perfect rectangle that is dense enough and compacted enough that it can be sliced like a cake into bite-sized servings. 

You begin building the oshizushi by adding the toppings first, at the bottom of the box. Then you place vinegar rice over the topping in a continuous layer, making sure the rice covering the entire topping. After all the different layers are inside the box, you press down on the cover of the box to put everything together. At this point its a good idea to check and make sure the oshizushi is evenly filling the oshibako box. If not, add more rice to places where it is uneven. When finished, you flip the box over, remove the oshizushi, and begin slicing it into servings. Yum!

Cooking Tips

  • You could easily make oshizushi with any ingredients you’d like! Once you master our recipe, play around with whatever sounds good to you.
  • You can even build oshizushi with different ingredients in each layer. Make it multiple-layer by adding nori seaweed in between each layer to add a bit of color.

Meet Naoko’s Kitchen

Naokos kitchen logoNaoko’s Kitchen is brought to you by Japanese cook and Culinary Artist Naoko Kashiwagi, who is currently living in Singapore. Before moving to Singapore at the end of 2019, Naoko shared her authentic taste, knowledge, and skills of Japanese food by hosting pop-ups and cooking classes in Cornwall, UK, for seven years. More than a thousand foodies from all over the world have participated in her informative and hands-on classes. They all enjoyed the entertainment of her exquisite dishes!

Her mission is simple. To entertain the customers with authentic Japanese flavors by adding subtle twists to create innovative dishes. With Naoko’s imagination and creativity, she creates new recipes using the freshest local seafood and seasonal ingredients. Her recipe mixes Japanese authenticity with innovation for your taste buds and eyes.

Oshi Zushi (Pressed Sushi Cake)

Course Main Course
Cuisine Japanese


Sushi Rice

  • ¾ cup Short-grain Sushi Rice
  • ¾ cup Water

Sushi Vinegar

  • 1 tsp Salt
  • 1 ½ Tbsp Sugar
  • 2 ¾ Tbsp White Vinegar


Cook Sushi Rice

  1. Wash the sushi rice thoroughly in cold water and drain well.
  2. Place the drained sushi rice into a small pot and pour water. Let it sit for at least 20 minutes.
  3. Bring it to boil over high heat. Once boiled, cover the pot with a lid and reduce the heat to simmer.
  4. Simmer the rice for about 10 minutes or until nearly all the water has been absorbed.
  5. Remove the pot from the heat and set aside for 10 minutes with lid on.
  6. While cooking sushi rice, make sushi vinegar.
  7. Place all of the sushi vinegar ingredients into a small pan and heat over medium heat. Mix well.
  8. After about 2 minutes, when the sugar has melted, remove from the heat and allow it to cool. (You can make the sushi vinegar ahead and keep it in the fridge for up to 2 weeks.)
  9. When the sushi vinegar is cooled down, transfer the rice into a bowl. Drizzle sushi vinegar, then mix well until all combined.

Prepare the fillings

  1. Sashimi Salmon: slice the steak lengthways as thin as you can.
  2. Broccoli rabe: boil in salted water, drain.
  3. Zucchini: slice using peeler.
  4. Yuzu Pepper Mayo paste: mix Yuzu pepper paste and Mayonnaise well.
  5. Bonito Pompom: mix dried bonito flakes and soy sauce.

Assemble ingredients

  1. Wet your fingers and the Oshibako box with water to prevent rice from sticking. This recipe uses 3.5 in. x 10 in. mold. Adjust the portion of rice & ingredients depending on the size of your mold.

  2. Set up the box according to the instruction.
  3. Place the salmon slice and broccoli rabe diagonally in the bottom of the box. This will be the first layer of the pressed sushi cake. Cut salmon/ broccoli rabe so that they fit perfectly into the box.
  4. Using the lid of the box, press firmly and tightly.
  5. Brush the yuzu pepper mayo on top of the salmon.
  6. Next, spread sushi rice thinly as the second layer. Make sure to fill the box with rice in all four corners. Use about quarter portion of the sushi rice.
  7. Again, use the lid to press down firmly.
  8. Place zucchini slices as the third layer. Then, fill the box with the remainder of the rice. You’ll likely have leftover sushi rice depending on the size of your sushi mold.
  9. Use the lid to press down firmly once more.

Remove the mold

  1. Flip the mold upside down and remove the top lid.
  2. Insert a knife along the cuts on the mold and slice the sushi cake evenly.
  3. Carefully slide the side part of the box and remove from the mold
  4. Once you have finished pressing, turn the mould over and remove the top lid off. Insert a knife along with the cuts on mould and slice the cake. Carefully take the side of the box off and transfer the cake onto a plate.
  5. Put bonito pompom on top and serve with soy sauce.