Masu Zushi:Vinegar-Marinated Trout Pressed Sushi

River Cusine

In the world of traditional Japanese river fish cuisine, eel kabayaki is undoubtedly the most famous. Indeed, kabayaki is delicious. However, there’s another river fish dish that I highly recommend, although it doesn’t usually get as much spotlight. That dish is Masu Sushi.

Masu Sushi involves placing thinly sliced trout, marinated in salt and vinegar, on top of vinegared rice, and then wrapping it in bamboo leaves and pressing it with a weight. The texture of this sushi is completely different from typical salmon sushi, as the trout marinated in salt and vinegar has a firm bite. The combination of tartness, sweetness, and the umami of salmon makes it a delicacy. It’s especially popular with my family, including the kids, and I often bring it home.

However, finding Masu Sushi in and around Tokyo can be challenging. Unlike eel kabayaki, which is available nationwide, there are few stores specializing in Masu Sushi. Primarily, it’s available in Toyama Prefecture. Various types of Masu Sushi are sold at stations and nearby specialty shops in Toyama. Due to its nature as a preserved food, it is commonly sold in bento (boxed meal) format, and there are hardly any specialized restaurants for it.

Historically, the main ingredient for Masu Sushi was cherry salmon caught in the Jinzu River, but in recent years, due to a decrease in the salmon population, Chum salmon and imported Atlantic salmon are often used instead. Nevertheless, there are still specialty stores that insist on using cherry salmon, allowing you to enjoy its delicate texture. At present, there is a gap between the ingredients and cooking methods used. I hope that one day the Cherry Salmon caught in this river will become the main ingredient for Masu Sushi.

The price is generally around 2,000 yen, and it’s about a 2.5-hour journey from Tokyo via the Hokuriku Shinkansen.