Everything Bagels and Lox-inspired Onigirazu Sushi Sandwiches


I love sushi, but I think the main reason I love it so much is because I love salmon. Whenever I've ordered sushi, I always choose the salmon maki, salmon nigiri, or sometimes even salmon sashimi when I feel like skipping the rice. And I also love bagels and lox for this same reason, i.e., the smoked salmon.

Growing up near New York City, and then later living and working in the city, I got to enjoy my fair share of superb sushi and also incredible bagels, slathered in cream cheese and topped with either smoked or cured salmon. So, I recently had the epiphany to fuse sushi with bagels and lox!


However, instead of rolling up this bagels-and-lox-inspired sushi to make a classic maki, I decided to go with a relatively newish presentation called onigirazu. This sushi shape first appeared in a Japanese comic in the 1990s. Often described as a sushi sandwich, onigirazu took off in Japan, becoming a fast-food/street-food/vending-machine version of sushi since it was so easy to transport and eat on the go. All your sushi ingredients are contained in one big nori envelope, making it the perfect assembly of flavors!


Nowadays onigirazu are made with just about anything, e.g., fried tofu, fried meat cutlets, omelettes, fried spam, etc. So, I took the liberty of swapping in the classic Jewish deli ingredients to come up with this fusion. The flavors of the lox, cream cheese, capers, dill, red onion, tomato, and cucumber complement and even accentuate traditional Japanese sushi flavors. So, I think it's a phenomenal creation. And, I even use everything bagel seasoning spiked with Japanese seven-spice, shichimi togarashi, to really hammer home the fusion!

Everything Bagels and Lox-inspired Onigirazu Sushi Sandwiches

for the everything bagel seasoning:
2 tablespoons toasted sesame seeds
1 tablespoons poppyseeds
2 tablespoons dried onion flakes
2 teaspoons garlic powder
2 teaspoons shichimi togarashi

for the rice:
2 cups sushi rice
1/4 cup rice vinegar
2 teaspoons fine sea salt
2 tablespoons granulated sugar

for the onigirazu:
4 ounces (1/2 cup) cream cheese
capers (about 4 teaspoons)
4 ounces smoked salmon or lox
fresh dill sprigs
red onion, thinly sliced (about 4 slices)
tomato, thinly sliced (about 8 slices)
cucumber, thinly sliced (about 16 slices)
Bibb lettuce (about 4 leaves)

for serving:
soy sauce
pickled ginger

To make the everything bagel seasoning, combine all the ingredients in a small bowl.

Add the sushi rice to a sieve and rinse under running water until the liquid runs almost clear. Add the rice to a small pot and cover with 2 cups cold water. Cover and let sit for 30 minutes. Bring the pot of rice to a boil, and cook on low for exactly 15 minutes. Don't peek! Let the rice sit for 10 minutes off the heat.

Meanwhile combine the rice vinegar, salt and sugar in a measuring cup. To help the sugar and salt granules dissolve, microwave for 10 to 15 seconds.

Turn the rice out into a baking dish. Pour over with the vinegar mixture. Using a silicone spatula, toss so that the rice kernels are well coated. Spread the rice out evenly in the dish. Let cool slightly before using the rice.


To begin assembling the onigirazu, divide the rice in your baking dish into 8 sections. You'll want to use a little more rice for the bottom layer than what you'll need for the top layer.

Set up your onigirazu station so that you have all the ingredients prepared and set out in bowls. This will make it much easier to assemble. And this is also a great way to get family and friends involved in making sushi.


To form your onigirazu, lay a large piece of plastic wrap onto your work surface. Place a sheet of nori, glossy-side down onto the plastic wrap. Place a square of rice at an angle onto the center of the nori. Using a wet spatula, you'll want to spread the rice out to form a diamond shape.

Spread 2 tablespoons cream cheese onto the rice. Sprinkle over with 1 teaspoon everything bagel seasoning. Top with about 1 teaspoon capers, pressing them into the rice a little. Top with a few sprigs of dill. Lay over with 1 to 2 slices of salmon. Add 1 slice of onion, 2 slices tomato, and 4 slices cucumber, overlapping them a little. Top with 1 leaf of Bibb lettuce. Try to choose a relatively flat leaf, and remove some of the core so it's less bulky.

Top the ingredients with a square of rice, pressing it carefully onto the ingredients, so it forms a compact cube. Using the plastic wrap, fold up the corners of the nori as if making an envelope. Wrap tightly in the plastic wrap and set aside so that the onigirazu can set and form a compact sandwich. Repeat three more times. Let the onigirazu rest for a few minutes before slicing into them through the plastic wrap. Serve with soy sauce, wasabi, and pickled ginger. Yield: 4 servings.


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