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Pan Sushi

Pan Sushi is a popular Hawaii potluck dish. It also makes for an easy DIY sushi meal at home. The layering ingredients (like crab, avocado, and cucumber) are flexible, just make sure you have rice and furikake.

Pan Sushi for two ^_^

Have you heard about Pan Sushi? This is a popular Hawaii dish often found at potluck parties, gatherings, and sports games (especially kids soccer games).

What Is Pan Sushi?

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Pan Sushi is a layered sushi dish. It typically consists of rice, crab/tuna/salmon mixed with mayonnaise, furikake, cucumbers, avocado, and tobiko. 

Basically all of your favorite fun sushi roll fillings but layered instead of rolled. The ingredients are flexible and can be tailored to what you have on hand. Everything is layered and pressed together in a pan, hence the name Pan Sushi.

FYI: Pan Sushi is a close sibling of Sushi Bake, a very similar dish.

Making the first scoop

How To Eat Pan Sushi?

There are two main eating styles:

Scoop and Fold (with nori)
Take a big scoop of the pan sushi and put it on your plate. On the side of your plate are a few sheets of nori (seaweed). Put a spoonful of the pan sushi on the nori, and eat! It's an extra easy version of DIY hand rolls. This is the more common version and the one I'm posting about today.

Pre-Cut Squares
For this method, you must layer the nori directly in the pan when making the pan sushi (make the nori the bottom and top layer of the pan sushi). Press tightly so that all the layers are packed. Refrigerate the whole pan sushi for an hour. Then cut into squares. Everyone picks up a square and eats it just like that. 

Scoop and Fold Method: just put a small scoop on a piece of nori and eat

Where Was Pan Sushi Invented?

As far as we know, Hawaii!

Pan Sushi was invented out of convenience. We love and know good sushi in Hawaii. But we are not snobby about it. What my friends and I missed most on the mainland was the lack of good, casual sushi. Sushi on the mainland usually comes down to two options: not-so-great sushi or $300 omakase. Few things in between.

In Hawaii, we are lucky to have all kinds sushi at every price point. When we meet with friends for a casual weekday lunch and say, "let's get sushi," it's very normal and regular (sushi isn't just a special occasion thing). It's not unusual to eat sushi multiple times a week because we can get high quality and affordable sushi in Hawaii. 

Pan Sushi In Hawaii

That's why the idea of making "big batch" sushi is not a big deal. Hawaii is very family friendly, and gatherings with entire groups of families and friends are common. Someone is bound to bring a big tray of pan sushi to the party. The pan sushi is set on the table (along with many good local eats from other guests). Each person puts a big scoop of pan sushi on their plate so they can make individual sushi wraps/bites with nori.

Pan sushi is also popular at kids soccer games. My sister played elementary school soccer and a different parent was in charge of the post-game snack each week. One mom was known for her super good pan sushi. She precut them into squares...much easier making individual sushi pieces. All the kids would grab a square and devour (often with a chilled can of POG from the cooler). I bet it tasted extra good after running in the sun for an hour! 

It's all about the even layering when it comes to pan sushi.

Other Names For Pan Sushi

Pan Sushi is the name we most often use, but people also refer to this dish by other names: 

  • Pan Sushi - The classic and most common name.
  • Sushi Bake - This name is used when the sushi is baked so that you eat it hot! Here is the complete post and recipe for Sushi Bake.
  • Layered Sushi - Because the sushi is layered in a pan. 

Rice, salmon (to be mixed with mayonnaise), ikura, and cucumber. Mix and match your favorite sushi roll fillings.

What Can You Put In Pan Sushi?

Pan sushi is super flexible. Everyone does their own version. There is no right or wrong, that is the beauty of it.

Make sure you have the basics (rice, furikake, etc), and then you can mix it up from there:

Pan sushi is usually made for a group, but I've just been cooking for two of us lately. I cook one cup of rice for two people.  After the rice is done cooking, remove from the rice cooker, let it cool for about 15 minutes and season with a mix of sugar, salt, and rice vinegar.

You can use any kind of furikake you like. We usually get this Nori Komi Furikake.

Imitation crab is the most common protein for pan sushi. You can also use canned tuna or salmon, and even kamaboko (fishcake). I usually have salmon in the freezer so I'll defrost a half pound fillet and bake it in the oven. Let cool and then flake it with a fork. You can also mix protein (I know some people love doing half imitation crab and half real crab).

Whatever protein you chose, flake/shred/dice small and mix it with a spoonful of mayonnaise. Why mayonnaise? Because 1) it tastes good, and 2) this allows you to spread the crab/tuna/salmon more easily over the rice. 

Cut the cucumber into small dice (or thin slices, up to you), and sprinkle with a little salt and mix. Set aside for 15 minutes. The salt will draw out the water and make the cucumber extra crisp.

Whether sliced thin or diced, avocado is always welcome in pan sushi.

Tobiko and/or Ikura
Who doesn't love tobiko and ikura! I like this as the top layer of pan sushi because it is most attractive (and also very delicious). Sometimes people mix tobiko with the crab/tuna/salmon which is also a good idea. If you want to go all out, mix tobiko with the crab/tuna/salmon (which is layered in the middle), and put ikura on the very top.

An extra tasty bite!

Pan Sushi Tips

  • Press the rice down firmly before adding on the next layer. This will help the pan sushi better stay together when you scoop it up and place on the nori to eat.
  • We eat this with the pre-cut and seasoned nori sheets (where you can get in a giant pack at Costco Hawaii). But you can also use the full size sheets and cut it yourself. 
  • Layer in any order you prefer, but the standard order is (from bottom to top): rice, protein, furikake, cucumber, avocado, more rice, furikake, and tobiko or ikura.

Pan Sushi Recipe

See below ^_^

Pan Sushi

Pan Sushi

Yield: 6-inch round. Lunch for 2!
Prep Time: 15 minutes
Total Time: 15 minutes

Pan Sushi is a popular Hawaii potluck dish and also the perfect thing to make for an easy DIY sushi dinner at home. The ingredients are flexible, just make sure you have rice and furikake. Layer all your favorite sushi roll fillings in the middle. P.S. Check out Pan Sushi's very similar cousin, Sushi Bake.



  1. Find a pan/container you want to layer in (I made this in a 6-inch round container). Wash and set aside.
  2. Mix the tuna, salmon, or imitation crab with the mayonnaise in a bowl. Set aside. 
  3. Put the prepared sushi rice on the bottom layer of the pan. Press the rice down with your hand or spatula.
  4. Layer the mixed tuna, salmon, or imitation crab on top. Pat down.
  5. Sprinkle a tablespoon of furikake on top. Then follow with a layer of cucumber and avocado.
  6. Do one more layer of rice, pat down.
  7. Then top with a tablespoon of furikake and ikura. 
  8. Place the pan sushi in the middle of the table and put a big scoop on your bowl. Make small rolls/bites with sheets of nori. Enjoy! ^_^


To make sushi rice: Combine 2 tablespoons rice vinegar, 1 tablespoon sugar, and ½ teaspoon salt in a small dish. Mix until sugar and salt is dissolved. Fold into 3 cups cooked rice.

Mahalo for Reading!


Monday 28th of September 2020

I’ve been reading your blog since you started it, but this is my first time commenting.

I made this pan sushi recently for my husband and I and it was a huge hit. I followed your recipe almost exactly, but made two changes/additions: First, I marinated the salmon in some teriyaki sauce, then air fried it because I didn’t want to turn the oven on (it was over 90° out). Second, I added some masago to the salmon and mayo mixture. This recipe was so easy and SO GOOD! It is definitely being added to our dinner rotation.

I have really enjoyed reading about all of these Hawaii & Hawaiian treasures that you have covered so far on the blog. Keep up the great work!


Monday 28th of September 2020

Hi Helen! Thank you so much for the kind words (you made my day ^_^) I'm so happy you are enjoying the blog! Love the idea of teriyaki sauce and air frying. And adding the masago was a brilliant idea...I can almost taste it now! - Kathy

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