Chirashi, Poke & HweDupBap: What’s the Difference? With Schaumburg,IL Sushi Restaurant
Updated: Sep 5
Sushi comes in many, many different forms: maki rolls, nigiri, even sushi burritos and bowls. Often overshadowed by maki and nigiri, sushi bowls are fantastic dishes that we wish more people knew about! Ahead, we take a deep dive into the three most well-known types of sushi bowls in the U.S. today: chirashi, hwedupbap and poke.
Chirashizushi (ちらし寿司) is the original Japanese sushi bowl, invented sometime during the Edo period (1603-1867). Meaning “scattered” in Japanese, chirashi consists of a bed of seasoned sushi rice with an assortment of fresh sliced fish “scattered” artfully on top. Chirashi also often includes nori (dried seaweed), tamagoyaki, and one or two minimal fresh vegetables or greens.
Whether you are a long time sushi connoisseur, or are relatively new to sushi and want to expand your appreciation for different types of fish, chirashi is a wonderful choice. With chirashi, you can explore and savor the delicate, complex range of flavors of several different types of fresh fish at your own pace, all in one dish.
Distinguishing Features of Chirashi:
The fish is sliced, similar to sashimi.
Made with sushi rice.
Contains just one or two vegetables or greens, sometimes only as a garnish.
No sauces, besides dipping sauce for the fish (soy sauce & wasabi).
Simple and elegant in taste and presentation.
Chirashi can be thought of as a freeform sushi dish, without the hand-shaping needed for maki and nigiri. Chirashi is rather simple yet quite elegant in both taste and presentation, and a delight to discerning taste buds.
HweDupBap (회덮밥) is sometimes thought of as the Korean twist on chirashi, but in truth it tastes entirely different from chirashi. Meaning “raw fish over rice,” hwedupbap consists of chopped or cubed raw fish, fresh greens and veggies, steamed rice and a tangy-sweet-spicy gochujang sauce.
If you are familiar with Korean food, hwedupbap is similar in concept to bibimbap (mixed rice bowl with veggies, meat and gochujang-vinegar sauce) – but with more fresh veggies instead of stir fried ones, and raw fish as the protein instead of beef and egg. The gochujang sauce used for both bibimbap and hwedupbap are essentially the same, and both dishes should be mixed before eating. Unlike chirashi, which is not meant to be mixed and is not served with sauce (besides wasabi and soy sauce for dipping individual pieces of fish), hwedupbap is meant to be mixed thoroughly with all its crisp veggies, tender rice, succulent fish, and zingy gochujang sauce – giving you the perfect blend of flavors and textures with every single bite.
Distinguishing Features of Hwedupbap:
The fish is diced or cubed, rather than sliced.
Usually made with plain rice instead of sushi rice.
The gochujang-based sauce.
Commonly used ingredients include: shredded lettuce, cucumber, radish, carrot, gim (dried seaweed, similar to nori), perilla, and sesame seeds to top.
Hwedubbap is meant to be mixed thoroughly before enjoying.
Zesty, zingy and bold; a mouthwatering combination of textures and tastes in every single bite!
Where chirashi is delicate, refined and simple, hwedupbap’s flavors are more radical, zesty and bold. Both are absolutely delicious, your choice just depends on your preference and mood!
Of Hawaiian origin, poke (pronounced “poh-kay”) is somewhat similar to chirashi and hwedupbap in that it consists of rice with raw fish and vegetables on top. However, if you’ve tried it you know that poke cannot be mistaken for either chirashi or hwedupbap!
Thought to have been invented by native Polynesians centuries ago, the earliest iteration of poke was a simple mixture of raw reef fish seasoned with salt, seaweed and crushed nuts. As Hawaiians came into contact with other peoples and their foods & seasonings, poke evolved to include many culinary influences over many years. Today, poke bowls are typically packed with numerous different types of vegetables, nuts and/or fruit, raw fish (often marinated), toppings and sauces.
Distinguishing Features of Poke:
The fish is chopped in small pieces rather than sliced, and sometimes marinated.
Other types of seafood are sometimes used, like octopus and shrimp.
Usually made with plain rice rather than sushi rice.
Commonly used toppings include: edamame, avocado, carrot, mango, beets, radish, and many more.
Popular poke sauces include: ponzu sauce, spicy mayo, wasabi aioli, chili aioli, teriyaki, ginger-soy, and sweet chili sauces.
Typically has the most ingredients and tends to be a bit sweeter (due to the variety of marinades and sauces), compared with chirashi or hwedupbap.
Very flavorful and fresh; a feast for the eyes and mouth!
Poke bowls can be made up of near-infinite combinations of different fish, toppings and sauces. They’re a fantastic way for people to enjoy and expand their sushi appreciation with delicious and widely ranging flavor combinations.
Eager to feast on a delicious sushi bowl today? Come visit us, here at Sakura Sushi & Grill in Schaumburg, IL!
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