What Is Chicken Sushi?

Sushi lovers would be confused at the two words “chicken” and “sushi” together, but nowadays, many traditional recipes have been changed and adapted to fit everyone’s palate; it may be surprising, but this recipe is delicious. Let’s see what is chicken sushi and how it came to fruition.

Chicken sushi is a classic sushi roll that uses roast or fried chicken instead of raw fish. The chicken is typically prepared in a Japanese style, marinated in teriyaki sauce or fried with the karaage method, or deep frying in deep oil. Chicken sushi was first introduced in New Zealand.

A sushi roll with chicken in soy sauce
Chicken sushi is a modern version of the traditional Japanese rolls

If you’re curious about this unusual but popular delicacy, keep reading to learn more. You’ll also find a straightforward and delicious recipe to make chicken sushi at home.

What Is Chicken Sushi? The Origin of the Westernized Roll

Chicken sushi is pretty self-explanatory – it’s a sushi roll with chicken as one of the ingredients. If you know something about sushi, it’d probably be the fact that it can be made with literally any ingredient. If you enjoy the flavor combination, the sushi roll will be delicious for you.

The first chicken sushi was created in 1993, and it introduced this unique Japanese food to New Zealanders. It was a collaboration between the businessman Yoshiharu Takagi and the chef Nick Katsoulis. Katsoulis opened the sushi restaurant St. Pierre’s and premiered this dish to his visitors; the rest is history.

St. Pierre’s was the restaurant that kicked off the sushi trend in Auckland, New Zealand. They have an entire chicken sushi menu with different ingredient combinations. They’re all made and presented either as maki rolls or California rolls, with rice on the outside.

Raw Fish Is an Unusual Ingredient in Western Culture

As you can tell, chicken sushi is enormously popular, but why exactly is that? Why couldn’t New Zealanders, and therefore the rest of the Western world, simply accept the purist’s recipe with raw fish?

Raw salmon and tuna fillets may sound extreme or repulsive to someone who isn’t used to eating fish. Still, the original Japanese recipe was created to accommodate the ingredient availability. Additionally, the chef who made sushi rolls knew how to cut and create sushi with raw fish that would be equally safe and delicious to eat.

However, raw fish wasn’t exactly synonymous with deliciousness for some people in the Western world. Takagi, who worked as an importer of Japanese goods, simply understood that and created a version that would appeal to the rest of the world.

A few pieces of fried chicken laid out on a cutting board with some garlic
Restaurants typically use fried or roast chicken in sushi rolls

Curious to know more about other Japanese delicacies? Read also :

What Is Ramen Sushi?
What Sushi Is White?
What Is Thai Sushi?
What Is Masago?
What Is Sushi Sauce And How It’s Made?

Why There Was No Chicken in Sushi in the First Place

The original Japanese sushi recipe was created with ingredients available at that time. Since Japan is an island nation, they used foods they could catch and grow locally. Rice, salmon, other fish, seaweed, fruits, and vegetables were the primary ingredients.

You’ll notice that most original Japanese dishes have at least one of these foods, while rice is a staple dish served both as a side and part of the main course. You’ll rarely find bread in Japanese restaurants; it’s all about the rice and noodles they created over time.

Japan Is an Island Country That Was Self-Sufficient for a Long Time

During the 17th and 18th centuries, Japan went into a complete lockdown. They only traded and communicated with the Dutch and Chinese traders on a commerce island called Dejima (or Deshima, in Western sources).

This limited the type and amount of resources they had on the outside. While Japanese people did have a lot of imported goods, the poorer castes were unable to afford and enjoy most of them. All Japanese dishes that are popular today are either twists on old, royal recipes or classic commoners’ meals.

A plate full of Japanese sushi
Japanese people had a lot of rice and fish to make into meals, and that’s where sushi comes from, too

How to Make Easy Chicken Sushi at Home

The best part about chicken sushi is the availability and price of the main ingredient – chicken. Here’s a simple yet flavorful recipe for karaage or fried chicken sushi. You’ll need:

  • 1 cup short-grain rice,
  • 1 cup water,
  • 1/4 cup rice vinegar,
  • 1 tablespoon sugar,
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt,
  • 3 sheets nori seaweed,
  • 1 cucumber, sliced into thin sticks,
  • 1 carrot chopped into sticks similar to the cucumber,
  • 2 chicken fillets (or thigh fillets)
  • Deep frying mix for the batter (or you can make it from eggs, breadcrumbs, and flour.)

Cook the rice for about 15 minutes or as instructed on the packaging. Add the vinegar, sugar, and salt, and mix when cooled.

When preparing the chicken, cut it into strips and roll it into the frying batter mix. If you don’t have a batter mix yet, simply whisk a couple of eggs in a bowl, add salt and pepper into the flour in a separate bowl, and spread breadcrumbs into the third one.

Coat the chicken in the flour first; dip it into the egg later, and then spread breadcrumbs all over. Heat some oil to a medium-hot temperature in a heavy set pan or wok. Dip the chicken in the oil with tongs or a fork. Deep fry for about 5 minutes or until golden and cooked through.

Place one nori sheet on a bamboo mat or some plastic wrap. Spread the rice on the seaweed and place the cucumber, carrot, and chicken. Roll it up tightly, then cut it into smaller pieces and serve.

A person off-screen rolling sushi with a bamboo mat
You can make sushi at home easily

Modern Times Move Traditional Recipes to New Lengths, and So Is the Case With Sushi

Chicken sushi may be a bit outlandish for the lovers of authentic sushi recipes, but it’s still a delicious treat. Sushi can indeed be whatever you want since combining ingredients with rice and seaweed can rarely go wrong. It’s time to try something new, so why not go for a modern twist with chicken sushi? You won’t regret it and will go for seconds.