Crispy Rice Sushi Recipe with Smoked Salmon Avocado
Introducing my new favorite – Crispy Rice Sushi! Crunchy crispy rice cakes topped with smoked salmon, creamy avocado, cucumbers, and creamy bang bang sauce. You get a bite of crazy crunchiness from the rice squares, followed by another bite of creamy smoked salmon avocado! There’s a reason that only half of these will make it to the dinner table!
Easy to make, air fry or stovetop, great for parties, game days, or light supper, plus GORGEOUS looking and Lip-smacking DELISH! Follow my step-by-step instructions and my expert tips for the best crunchy rice cake squares!
So delicious and so easy! I love ordering crispy rice when I’m out. Knowing that I can now make it at home is awesome. I literally did a happy dance while eating it.– Angela
Best Ever Crispy Rice Sushi
Let me introduce you to my new favorite dish, using leftover cooked rice…
Pressed – Crispy – Crunchy – Air Fried (or stovetop)…Crispy Rice Sushi with Spicy Smoked Salmon Avocado!
Originally a Nobu dish but made famous on Tiktok, think of it like Asian-style canapé that you can make-ahead and with endless topping choices.
Why I am obsessed with this crispy rice recipe –
- Flavor: smoky, savory, umami, sweet, tangy, a little spicy.
- Crunchy, creamy, little chewy ….everything you love in one bite.
- Easy to make with accessible ingredients
- Fun & versatile with endless topping variety …make it vegan, vegetarian…etc.
- Air fry or pan fry…yes you can make them in an air fryer!
What is crispy rice sushi
Crispy rice and crispy rice sushi are cooked rice pressed into a block and cut into rectangular or square shape then pan fry or air fry to crunchy outside and soft and little chewy inside.
The short-grain white rice, often labeled as “sushi rice” in Western grocery stores, are cooked, seasoned, and compressed into a container/dish to form a rice block. The rice block is chilled overnight in the fridge to form a solid shape before cutting it into rectangles or squares.
You can shallow fry or air fry the crispy rice square cakes with oil to crunchy golden brown outside and add any toppings and dressing you prefer to make crispy rice sushi.
Ingredients to make Crispy Rice Sushi Recipe
There are 3 main components: Rice, Topping, and Sauce.
- Rice: Short grain white rice, often labeled as “sushi rice”, Coconut Aminos, Rice vinegar, Toasted sesame oil, Avocado oil
- Toppings: Mini Persian cucumbers, Avocado, Smoked salmon, Chive and furikake or toasted sesame seeds
- Bang Bang Sauce: Mayonnaise, Rice vinegar, Hot sauce, Garlic clove, Coconut aminos, Ketchup, Coarse sea salt
Type of rice to make crispy rice
The best rice to make crispy rice is Japanese or Korean short-grain white rice. Short grain white rice releases more starch and helps the rice grains stick together.
You can also use sweet rice (aka sticky rice). The texture will be more chewy and dense but it’s doable.
How to make Crispy Rice
- Cook the short-grain white rice following the package instructions or any cookware method you prefer. I use a Japanese rice cooker.
- Season the rice with coconut aminos, rice vinegar, and toasted sesame oil. Use a rice paddle to combine them well. If you use soy sauce, reduce the quantity and balance the salty flavor with some sugar sweetner.
- IMPORTANT! While the rice is still warm, add the seasoned rice to a baking dish or container, lined with food saran wrap. Compress the rice down and flatten it tightly using a rice paddle or the back of a spoon to help the grains stick together.
- You can dip the spoon (or paddle) in cold water to prevent the rice from sticking.
- Shape the block as flat and even as possible, particularly around the corners. The height of the rice block should roughly be around 3/4-inch (2 cm) thick. Once it’s cool to room temperature, seal and refrigerate overnight.
- To air fry: lightly spray the rice and the fryer basket with avocado oil. Air fryer at 380F for 16 minutes (carefully flip them after 8 minutes).
- To pan fry: shallow fry with avocado oil over medium-heat until they are crispy crunchy outside in golden color.
- Rest: cool them over a cooling rack so the rice sushi remains crunchy and the bottom side won’t turn soggy.
Crispy Rice Sushi
To assemble the crunchy rice sushi, layer with thin sliced mini cucumber, a few mini pieces of avocado, 1-2 pieces of smoked salmon, and bang bang sauce, and garnish with toasted sesame seeds or furikake.
Short grain white rice that’s often labeled as “sushi rice” in Western grocery stores makes the best crispy rice. You can also use sweet rice, also known as sticky rice. The texture will be more chewy and dense if you use sticky rice.
No. Only white short-grain rice, often labeled as “sushi rice”, will work for crispy rice sushi. Short-grain white rice releases more starch than any other type of rice and the starch helps the rice grains stick together.
Alternatively, you can also use sticky rice (aka sweet rice).
Yes. You can. Sticky rice (also known as sweet rice) will result in a more dense and chewy texture than the short-grain white rice. Sticky rice will also taste sweeter.
Refrigerate overnight in the fridge in a sealed container.
Help! My rice sushi cake falls apart
There are a few reasons this might happen:
- Line the container with a saran food wrap so it’ll be easier to lift the block out of the container.
- Press the rice into the container while it’s still warm so it’ll be easier to form a block.
- Compress the rice down tightly as if you are pressing the grains to stick together.
- Focus particularly around the corners and the edge. These are the areas that tend to fall apart.
- Wait until the rice cool to room temperature then seal and refrigerate overnight.
How to make it spicy?
You can mix my bang bang sauce with some hot sauce, or sriracha, or add spicy mayo to make it spicy or drizzle with my garlic chili sauce. If you prefer to use sashimi sushi grade ahi tuna, tuna, or salmon, you can dice them and mix them with the spicy mayo mixture to make spicy tuna crispy rice.
Can I make it ahead?
Yes! This crispy rice sushi cakes recipe is perfect for making ahead meals because the rice needs to be in the container and refrigerated overnight to form a solid shape. Before serving, take them out of the fridge, slice, air fry (or pan fry), add the topping, and serve!
How long can I store cooked rice in the fridge?
Cooked rice can be stored safely in the fridge for up to 3 days.
The crispy crunchy rice cakes are super delicious with a creamy dipping sauce even without the toppings but you can swap the toppings with sashimi sushi grade tuna or salmon, mixed with my bang bang sauce, and hot sauce or spicy mayo to make spicy salmon or spicy tuna topping. You can also add thinly sliced steak from my Thai beef salad, crab, canned tuna with Japanese sesame dressing from my Temaki Hand Rolls, Japanese potato salad, or with easy homemade kimchi.
In the winter or colder months, pair the crunchy rice sushi with Chinese egg drop soup, tomato egg drop soup, shirataki fried rice, or bok choy soup.
For hot summer, try the crispy rice squares with my Sake grapefruit cocktail, Asian cucumber salad, or Chinese smashed cucumber salad.
And if you are looking for a salmon appetizer without the rice, my air fryer salmon bites recipe is another great choice!
Recipe Summary & Tips
- Use short grain white rice, often labeled as “sushi rice”
- Line the container with saran wrap so it’ll be easier to lift the rice out of the container.
- Do season the rice and shape them in a baking dish while the rice is still warm.
- Compress the rice down tightly. Focus particularly around the corners and the edge.
- Use any rectangular-shaped container/baking dish as long as it has a wide & flat bottom.
- Make-ahead: Refrigerate the rice block overnight.
- Use water – wet the chopping board and dip the knife blade in a bowl of water when you slice the rice block. This prevents the rice from sticking.
- You can Air fry or Pan fry the rice sushi squares to golden crispy. Instructions below.
- Use a cooling rack after you air fry or pan fry the crispy rice sushi cakes to prevent the bottom from turning soggy.
- Have fun experiment any topping and sauce you like! Make it vegan or vegetarian!
Crispy Rice Sushi with Smoked Salmon Bang Bang Sauce
For the rice:
- 8.64 oz short grain white rice, often labeled as “sushi rice”
- 2 tbsp coconut aminos
- 1 tbsp rice vinegar
- 2 tsp toasted sesame oil
- Avocado oil, or avocado oil spray
For the topping:
- 2 whole mini Persian cucumbers, thinly slice to rounds
- 1-2 whole avocado, sliced to small pieces
- 2 oz. smoked salmon
- Chive, chopped
- Furikake , or toasted sesame seeds, optional
Bang Bang Sauce
- ½ cup mayonnaise
- 3 tbsp rice vinegar
- ½-1 tsp hot sauce, I use Frank’s original
- 0.2 oz Garlic, grated or crushed, about 1 large clove
- 1 tbsp coconut aminos
- 1.5 tbsp ketchup
- 2 pinches coarse sea salt
A night before:
- Cook the rice following the package instructions. While the rice is still warm gently mix the rice with coconut aminos, rice vinegar, and sesame oil.
- Line a generous sized single layer of food cling wrap inside of a 8” by 8” (20 cm) square shaped baking dish or a container with flat bottom. This will be the mold to shape the sushi block.
- Add the rice to the container. Compress it down and flatten it tightly using a rice paddle or the back of a spoon to help the rice grains stick together. Press it down tight and shape it as flat and even as possible. Focus particularly around the corners and the edge as these are the areas that the rice tends to fall apart. The height of the rice block should roughly be around 3/4 -inch (2 cm) thick.
- You can also use the container liner to help you shape the edge of the rice by gently lifting it upwards then bringing it inwards to compress the rice grains and help them stick to each other.
- Once the rice grains are compressed into a big block and once it’s cool to room temperature. Seal the container and refrigerate overnight.
- Wet the chopping board with some water so that the rice won’t stick to the board. Carefully lift the rice block out of the container and remove the cling wrap. Slice the rice block into roughly 10 rectangular shaped and equal sized pieces. You can dip the knife in a bowl of water to help slicing.
- To Air Fry: Preheat your air fryer. Spray the fryer basket with avocado oil. Spray the rice sushi pieces with another thin layer of oil then place the oiled-side down into the basket. Leave some space between the pieces. Air fry at 380F (193C) for 8 minutes. Spray another thin layer of oil and carefully flip them to air fry for another 8 additional minutes. The rice sushi should come out golden and a little crispy. Cool them down over a baking rack.
- To pan fry: Preheat a frying skillet over medium heat until it feels quite warm. Add 3-4 tbsp avocado oil. Add the rice sushi pieces. Leave some space between each piece. You should hear the sizzling sound. Pan fry for 4 minutes or until you see the bottom turns golden brown then flip to cook another 3-4 minutes. Add more oil, if needed. The texture should be crispy golden outside and soft and little chewy inside. Cool them down over a baking rack
- Layer the rice sushi with a thin layer of cucumbers, avocado, and smoked salmon on top. Drizzle with the bang bang sauce and garnish with chive and furirake, if using. Serve immediately.
- About the rice, use short grain white rice (Japanese rice or Korean rice) that’s often labeled as “sushi rice” in Western grocery stores. You can also use sticky rice but the texture will be very sticky and dense.
- About the baking dish size (the mold), besides an 8”by 8” (20 cm) square baking dish, you can also use any rectangular shaped container/dish as long as it has a wide & flat bottom.
- Height (thickness) of the rice sushi, in my experiment 3/4 -inch (2 cm) in height lands the best texture.
- Use water – wet the chopping board surface and dip the knife blade in a bowl of water when you slice the rice block to prevent the rice from sticking to the surface or the knife.
- When you flip the rice rushi pieces in a fryer basket, be careful. It’ll be hot. I hold a pair of chopsticks in one hand and a silicone spatula the other hand to help me flip the pieces.
- Storage – Cooked rice can be stored safely in the fridge for up to 3 days.
- Make-ahead: You can make the rice block a day before and refrigerate overnight. Before serving, take them out of the fridge, slice, air fry (or pan fry), add the topping, and serve!
More Delicious Finger Foods!
- The puffiest jumbo Bang Bang Shrimp!
- Air fried oyster mushrooms (vegan fried chicken!)
- Crispy Rice Paper Dumplings (vegan, gf, fans favorite!)
- Nori wraps with canned tuna (low carb, another Tiktok invention!)
- Temaki sushi (low-carb hand roll sushi)
- Keto beef sushi rolls (with cooked Korean bulgogi beef!)
Made a dish and love it?
Please remember to leave a recipe review and rating in the comment section below! Thank you! XO!
This was so delicious, my husband and I finished it all too quickly! Thanks for your amazing recipes.
This is literally the best thing we’ve ever made! We did the air fryer method and the rice sushi came out perfectly crispy crunchy with a lovely smoky soy sauce flavor. That bang bang sauce goes well with everything! Highly recommend it!