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Crispy Sushi Rice Cakes

Don't knock it till you've fried it . . .

Crispy rice cakes topped with sriracha, avocado, cucumber, and scallions on white parchment paper.

Love sushi but haven’t mastered the art of the roll? Don’t fret: crispy sushi rice cakes have arrived. Crusted with sesame seeds, drizzled with sriracha and topped with avocado, cucumber, and thinly sliced scallions, these crispy rice bites pack all the irresistible flavor of a vegetarian sushi roll in one portable hand-held package.

Crispy rice cakes topped with black and white sesame seeds.

While it takes years to master the craft of perfect sushi rice, it’s not difficult to make a pretty decent batch at home. Make sure to stick to the 1:1 rice to water ratio, and after cooking the rice for 15 minutes, make sure to let it sit off the heat, undisturbed, for a full 10 minutes before emptying it onto the parchment-lined baking sheet. Use a tool such as a flat wooden paddle or flexible nonstick rubber spatula to gently toss the seasoned vinegar into the rice. You want to be as gentle as possible so you don’t break the grains.

Beyond cooking and seasoning the rice, the most important step in this recipe is forming the rice into an even, tightly packed block. Avoid touching the sticky rice with your fingers; instead use the parchment paper edges to ensure straight edges and tight corners. The more packed this rice block, the better it will slice and hold together in the pan later. Sprinkling sesame seeds on top is a fun addition—as the cakes fry, the seeds toast, adding a wonderful nutty flavor—but if you don’t have them, don’t worry: the cakes will still be delicious as they are.

Crispy rice cakes topped with sriracha, avocado, cucumber, and scallions on white parchment paper.

You can top these rice cakes with any combination of sushi toppings you like: I’ve kept it simple (and vegan!) with avocado for creaminess and cucumber and scallion for freshness. Sriracha is definitely not a traditional sushi topping, but it adds a spice and acidity that’s somehow really needed here. Again, you do you! The world is your oyster . . . or crispy sushi rice cake, as this case may be.



Crispy Sushi Rice Cakes

(Makes 16)

Crispy rice cakes topped with sriracha, avocado, cucumber, and scallions on white parchment paper.

For the rice:

1 cup sushi rice

2 tbsp. unseasoned rice vinegar

1 tbsp. granulated sugar

1 tsp. Diamond Crystal kosher salt

¼ cup mixed white and black sesame seeds (optional)


Equipment: fine-mesh sieve, small pot with lid, parchment paper, small rimmed sheet pan, wooden paddle or flexible rubber spatula


Pour rice into a fine-mesh sieve. Holding over a sink basil, rinse with cold tap water until water runs clear.

Cooked sushi rice in a pot.

Transfer rice to a small pot and cover with 1 cup cold water. Set pot over medium-high heat and bring to a boil. Reduce heat to low, cover, and simmer for 15 minutes, or until water is absorbed and rice is tender. Turn off heat and leave pot to sit, covered, for 10 minutes.

Meanwhile, in a small bowl, combine rice vinegar, sugar, and 1 teaspoon kosher salt. Microwave for 30 seconds, then stir to ensure sugar and salt are dissolved (If they are not, continue heat at 10 second intervals, stirring between each, until they are.)

Cooked sushi rice in a block.

Line a small baking sheet with parchment paper. Scoop rice out onto parchment paper with a wooden sushi paddle (or a large rubber spatula) and gently flatten out into an even layer. Sprinkle over seasoned vinegar and toss lightly to combine.

When rice is evenly seasoned, flatten rice out into an even 8” by 5” rectangular block which is about ¾” high. (Use sushi paddle and parchment paper edges to pack the rice into the rectangle shape; you want the block of rice to be as even and packed as possible so it holds together when cut and fried.) If using, press sesame seeds neatly into the top of the rice block.

Cover rice block on baking sheet with plastic wrap, careful not to let wrap touch the rice. Transfer to the refrigerator to chill until completely cold, at least 2 hours and up to overnight.

To assemble:

6 tbsp. neutral oil, divided

1 avocado, halved, pitted, and thinly sliced


1 Persian cucumber, finely diced

1 scallion, thinly sliced



Crispy rice cakes topped with black and white sesame seeds in a metal pan.

When ready to serve, remove parchment paper containing rice block from the pan and transfer to a cutting board. Using a sharp knife dipped in water, cut into 16 rectangles about 2” by 1 1/4”.

In a large pan, heat 3 tbsp. oil over medium-high heat. Add half the rice cakes, sesame seed side down, and cook until crisp and golden-brown on the bottom, 1-2 minutes. Flip cakes and cook on second side until crisp, 1-2 minutes more. Remove to a paper towel-lined plate to drain; season lightly with salt. Repeat with remaining oil and rice cakes.

To serve, drizzle tops of crispy rice cakes with sriracha. Top with avocado, finely chopped cucumber, and scallion.

Crispy rice cakes topped with black and white sesame seeds.

Originally posted June 23, 2024.

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