The Difference: Kaisen Don vs Chirashi Sushi
Usually consisting of thinly sliced fresh raw fish and shellfish, “Sashimi (刺身)” is a traditional Japanese dish to savor the original taste of natural ingredients.
We Japanese usually eat Sashimi on its own, dipping in soy sauce and putting a little bit of Japanese grated horseradish wasabi, but as you know, the fish slices are also enjoyed on top of cooked rice.
Kaisen Don vs Chirashi Sushi (Chirashi Zushi)
When it comes to the Japanese rice dish of sliced raw fish, “Sushi (寿司)” is especially famous, but in Japan, the rice with sliced fish also comes in the form of “Donburi (丼)” and the quintessential example is “Kaisen Don (海鮮丼)”.
Actually, Kaisen Don is quite similar to “Chirashi Sushi (ちらし寿司)” and many Japanese people confuse them. So today let me talk about what Kaisen Don is and how it differs from Chirashi Sushi or Chirashi Zushi.
Kaisen Don (海鮮丼)
First of all, Kaisen Don is a Japanese rice bowl dish or a type of Donburi made of plain white rice topped mainly with thinly sliced raw fish and shellfish.
Not Sushi restaurants, but Japanese seafood restaurants typically offer Kaisen Don, so elaborate Sashimi slices that require the skill and technique of the Sushi chef aren’t used in this Donburi.
There are many variations of Kaisen Don in Japan but representative toppings for it are tuna, sea bream, scallop, salmon, squid, prawn, octopus, crab meat, Ikura, and Uni or sea urchin roe.
Kaisen Don usually consists of a variety of ingredients, but some only use just one topping (e.g. Maguro-Don, Ikura-Don, Uni-Don).
Chirashi Zushi (ちらし寿司)
Kanto-Style Edomae Chirashi Zushi
Chirashi Sushi, or Chirashi Zushi, seems to be referred to as scattered Sushi in English-speaking countries, but in Japan, 2 types of Chirashi Sushi can be seen.
One is the Chirashi Zushi known as scattered Sushi, where vinegared rice is mixed with seasoned ingredients such as Shiitake mushroom, Kanpyo gourd, carrot, and lotus root, and thinly shredded egg omelet and nori are typically sprinkled.
Meanwhile, like Kaisen Don, the other type consists of a bed of rice topped with a variety of Sushi toppings. But unlike Kaisen Don, this type of Chirashi Sushi uses “Sumeshi (酢飯)” or vinegared rice and is offered by Sushi restaurants.
As for the container, while a large-sized ceramic bowl is usually prepared for Kaisen Don, Chirashi Sushi is typically served in a square or round wooden rice chest.