Crispy Rice and Spicy Tuna Bites – Nobu Copycat
Let’s learn how to make spicy tuna crispy rice at home and even better! Imagine crispy rice cakes topped with creamy avocado, perfectly seasoned sashimi grade tuna, spicy mayo, and sesame seeds. It’s a delicious appetizer or if you want, it can also be a main dish if you eat a few which I did of course!
This creation went viral on TikTok and it looked so good not to make my own version of it! Nobu is a famous Japanese seafood restaurant that popularized the spicy tuna crispy rice appetizer. It may seem intimidating to make but if you’ve ever made sushi or poke, this will be a walk in the park in comparison!
What Are Crispy Rice Bites?
After one bite, you’ll understand why these crispy rice bites are a trend! The rice is prepared exactly the same way as the rice in sushi but it’s molded differently into a large pan. Once the rice cools down and is set, we cut it into rectangles or squares. If you’re a fan of nigiri, the concept is super similar of fish sitting on top of an individual rice portion that’s been shaped. The difference between this recipe and nigiri though is that these are fried to crispy golden perfection and topped with spicy tuna, avocado, and any other toppings you like.
How to Make The Crispy Rice?
The process is super simple! You’ll need the following ingredients:
- Sushi Rice
- Rice Vinegar
- Granulated Sugar
- Sesame Oil
Start off by soaking and rinsing the sushi rice to remove some of the starch. I like using the Nishiki brand of sushi rice and it can be found at most supermarkets! After that, bring it to a boil with water and salt using a 2:3 cup ratio of rice to water. Simmer covered for 20 minutes and turn off the heat and leave it covered for another 10 minutes.
In a small bowl, whisk together rice vinegar, granulated sugar, and sesame oil. Heat it in the microwave for 30 seconds to dissolve the sugar. Stir the rice and then add the mixture and mix well. Line an 8 by 8 or larger pan with Saran wrap and press the rice in tightly. Depending how thick you want the crispy rice bites, you might need two pans. You can also shape it without a pan and just wrap it tightly with Saran wrap. I like to make them more on the thicker side so there’s a perfect ratio of crispy exterior to soft and chewy interior.
You can then chill it in the fridge for 1 to 3 hours or even overnight if you want to prepare the rice ahead of time and then assemble and enjoy the next day. I am impatient so I popped it in the freezer for about 30 minutes to an hour and then sliced.
After chilling it, it should be very easy to cut into rectangles or squares and fry in hot vegetable oil until slightly golden on all sides. You can deep fry it or shallow fry with just a little oil in your pan to crisp the bottom and top. I tried both methods and I preferred shallow frying it. It can get a little too crispy if you deep fry it so make sure if you do deep fry it, aim for a light golden color not deep golden or it might be a bit too crunchy! And that’s it for the rice part.
How to Make The Spicy Tuna?
Making the spicy tuna is the easiest part! The most important ingredient you’ll need is sushi grade or sashimi grade tuna to make it safe to be eaten raw. I go to my local Japanese fish market to buy the freshest high-quality tuna I can find.
Chop it up into very small pieces and to it, add Kewpie mayonnaise, sriracha, sesame oil, soy sauce, lime juice, and chopped scallions. I did not add scallions because my husband hates them but I added them to my own serving and it makes all the difference if you love green onions. Mix it all together and it’s ready to go!
Add the spicy tuna on top of the crispy rice along with avocado, more spicy mayo, and toasted sesame seeds.
Using 1 pound of tuna can make about 20 crispy rice bites or more depending on how much you pack on each one.
Spicy mayo is the easiest thing you’ll ever make. The only ingredients you’ll need are the ones in the name – sriracha and mayonnaise – as well as lemon juice! You can make it to your taste depending how spicy you like it.
- 1 Cup Kewpie Mayo: If you can’t find Japanese mayo, use regular mayo with a dash of mustard added to it!
- 1/4 to 1/3 Cup Sriracha: Add 1/4 for a less spicy taste and 1/3 cup for a strong kick.
- 1 1/2 Teaspoon Lemon Juice: The acidity brightens the dish to help lighten the taste of the mayo. It is completely optional though. You can also swap it for lime juice.
I like to add 1/4 cup of sriracha per 1 cup of mayonnaise. Add less for a weaker kick. Add more for a stronger kick. Feel free to use regular mayo but Kewpie mayo is even better!
What If I Don’t Like Tuna?
You can also make this with imitation crab or sushi/sashimi grade salmon! You can even keep it vegetarian or vegan and leave out the fish and just top it off with veggies like avocado and cucumber. Another option is to use tofu as a substitute or mushrooms for that umami taste.
How Long Does the Spicy Tuna Stay Fresh?
Although it’s best to enjoy it all the day of, you can store any spicy tuna leftover in the fridge for up to 2 days.
If you tried this recipe and loved it, drop by down below and let me know how you liked it with a rating and comment! Feel free to also leave a question there about this recipe and I’ll get right back to it.
OTHER RECIPES YOU MIGHT LIKE
Spicy Tuna Crispy Rice
- 2 cups sushi rice (rinsed well)
- 3 cups water
- 1 teaspoon salt
- 1/4 cup rice vinegar
- 2 tablespoons granulated sugar
- 1 teaspoon sesame oil
- 1 pound ahi tuna (finely chopped into small pieces)
- 1/4 cup mayonnaise (Kewpie mayo preferred)
- 3 tablespoons sriracha
- 1 tablespoon soy sauce
- 2 teaspoons sesame oil
- juice of 1/2 lime
- 1/4 cup green onions (thinly sliced)
- vegetable oil (for frying)
- soy sauce (for dipping)
- avocado thinly sliced or mashed
- spicy mayo to drizzle on top
- toasted sesame seeds to garnish on top
MAKE THE SUSHI RICE
- Rinse the sushi rice for a minute or two until the water runs clear. If you have time, soak it in water for 15 minutes prior to rinsing.
- Add 3 cups of water to a pot over high heat and bring to a boil. Add the salt and rice and once boiling, lower the heat and cover to simmer for 20 minutes. After, turn off the heat but leave covered for 10 more minutes. Then fluff it up.
- In a small bowl, add the rice vinegar, granulated sugar, and sesame oil. Microwave for 30 seconds or quickly warm it up in a pot just so the sugar dissolves.
- Pour this over the rice and mix so that each grain of rice is coated evenly. It should be very sticky!
- Line an 8x8 pan or larger with Saran wrap and tightly pack the rice to desired thickness. Cover tightly and pop in the fridge to chill for 1 to 2 hours or overnight. To save time, chill in the freezer for 30 minutes just until it is cold and easily can be sliced.
- After the rice is chilled and set, cut into squares or rectangles.
- To a large pan, add a little vegetable oil over medium high heat. Once the oil is very hot, add the rice squares and shallow fry in batches to not over-crowd them. Once the bottom is golden, flip over and allow the other side to become golden while making sure to flip carefully to not break it.
- Remove from oil and transfer to a wire rack or paper towel to drain any excess oil.
MAKE THE SPICY TUNA
- To a bowl, add the finely diced tuna along with mayonnaise, sriracha, soy sauce, sesame oil, lime juice, and sliced green onions. Mix together.
HOW TO ASSEMBLE
- Add thinly sliced avocado on top of the fried rice. You can leave it sliced and unseasoned or mash it with a little salt and black pepper and add on top.
- Add about 1 to 2 tablespoons of the spicy tuna on top. Then add a drizzle of spicy mayo on top along a sprinkle of sesame seeds and enjoy!