Spicy Tuna Crispy Rice

By: takestwoeggsPosted: 21/03/2022 Updated: 30/11/2023
Prep 10 minutes
Cook 15 minutes
Total 1 hour 25 minutes
This delicious spicy tuna crispy rice appetizer is made with crispy rectangles of seasoned sushi rice, fresh avocado slices and a dollop of deliciously creamy, umami flavored, spicy ahi tuna with a slice of jalapeño for an extra kick!
Spicy Tuna Crispy Rice

This delicious spicy tuna crispy rice appetizer is made with crispy rectangles of seasoned sushi rice, fresh avocado slices, and a dollop of deliciously creamy, umami flavored, spicy ahi tuna with a slice of jalapeño for an extra kick! Now you can make this gourmet bite-sized crispy rice tuna snack right from the comfort of your own home.

Looking down at a grid of spicy tuna crispy rice cake bites ready for serving.

Spicy tuna crispy rice is having its moment right now. I have been seeing it almost everywhere. It has gone viral over Instagram and TikTok and it is on the menu at almost all the trendy sushi restaurants like Nobu. When I had spicy tuna crispy rice for the first time, it was love at first bite. The spicy ahi tuna melded perfectly with the fresh avocado and the crunchy crispy flavored sushi rice. My only complaint about this delicious crispy rice sushi was that I only got a few pieces for top $$$ AND I had to share a piece with my boyfriend. I was distraught.

Now you can make as much of this appetizer as you can eat with this Nobu copycat spicy tuna crispy rice recipe. If you loved this crispy rice sushi appetizer, check out my Salmon Crispy Rice, Taiwanese fried chicken or crispy skirt dumplings!

Spicy Tuna Crispy Rice Recipe Video

A close up of a spicy tuna crispy rice on an appetizer plate with more crispy rice.

Why You’ll Love This Recipe

  • The spicy tuna has spicy, umami and savory flavors that blend beautifully with the seasoned sushi rice. Plus, the contrast between the soft fresh tuna and avocado and the crispy seasoned sushi rice is incredible.
  • You can make as many pieces as you want without having to spend top dollar at a fancy restaurant.
  • This is an incredibly simple recipe and I have included all the tips and tricks below for a foolproof appetizer.
Up close of the layers of ingredients for a spicy tuna topped crispy rice appetizer.

Kitchen Equipment

  • Rice Cooker: I am team rice cooker all the way. It is simply just more convenient than cooking rice over a stove. I have been using this Tiger rice cooker since college and it has been my favorite kitchen essential.
  • Rice Spoon: use a rice spoon or a large wooden spoon to mix in the seasoning of the rice so that you do not break the rice grains.
  • Baking Tray: You will need a small baking tray that is about 8 or 9 inches wide to create a mold for the rice. I used a quarter sheet pan but you can also use an 8×8 square baking pan as well.
  • Deep Skillet: to pan fry the crispy rice, you will need a deep skillet that will protect you from the hot oil splatter.

Ingredients and Substitutions

This crispy rice sushi recipe only has a few simple ingredients that you can find at your local Japanese or Asian grocery store.

Seasoned Rice

  • Sushi Rice: also known as short grained sushi rice that is plump, firm and slightly sticky. Sushi rice has a stickier texture than jasmine white rice making it ideal for shaping and frying. I love using Nishiki premium grain rice for all my sushi recipes.
  • Salt: used to season the rice.
  • Rice Vinegar: is a sweeter and slightly salty type vinegar. It adds a mild flavoring to the rice. You can buy rice vinegar online or at your local grocery store.
  • Granulated Sugar: balances out the bitterness from the rice vinegar
  • Sesame Oil: adds another layer of nutty flavor to the rice.

Spicy Tuna

  • Ahi Tuna: for safety precautions, use high-quality sushi or sashimi-grade ahi tuna. You must read the label of the packaging to check if it states that it is sushi grade. Alternatively, you can use sushi-grade salmon or any other sushi-grade fish as well.
  • Japanese Kewpie Mayonnaise: is a sweeter, umami-flavored mayonnaise that is only made of egg yolks alone for a more custardy texture and more rich mouthfeel. You can buy Kewpie mayo online or at your local Asian grocery store. Or you can alternatively use regular American mayonnaise if you do not have kewpie mayo.
  • Sriracha: is the spicy element in the spicy tuna. You can adjust the sriracha based on your spice preference. You can also use sambal oelek as an alternative as well.
  • Soy Sauce: soy sauce and fresh tuna pair nicely together and adds a touch of saltiness to break up the heavier creamy flavors. If possible, use soy sauce for sushi or sashimi for a milder flavored soy sauce. You can find it online or at your local Japanese grocery store.
  • Sesame Oil: sesame oil adds a hint of nuttiness.
  • Lime Juice: a touch of lime juice adds a bit of acidity to the spicy tuna which brightens up the flavor.
All the sauces and ingredients necessary to make spicy tuna poke.

Garnish

  • Avocado: adds a creamy element to the crispy rice.
  • Toasted Sesame Seeds: you can use either black or white toasted sesame seeds
  • Minced chives: or minced scallions
  • Jalapeno slices: or Serrano pepper slices

How to Make Spicy Tuna Crispy Rice

You can make this easy spicy tuna crispy rice recipe from the comfort of your own home and eat as much as you want without the guilt of having to pay $$$ for it.

Crispy Rice

  1. Prepare the rice. Thoroughly the rice 4-5 times until the water turns clear. Add the water and salt. Mix and cook the rice in a rice cooker.
  1. Add in flavoring. In a small bowl, mix the rice vinegar, sugar and sesame oil until the sugar has dissolved. Once the rice is cooked, toss the mixture with the cooked rice in a large bowl and toss until combined.
  1. Shape and refrigerate the rice. Place your flavored rice into a small square baking tray lined with plastic wrap and shape your rice into a 1/2 inch thick square block. Wrap and refrigerate for at least 1 hour or overnight. You can also freeze in the freezer for about 30 minutes. You want to chill the rice so that it is easy to cut into cubes.
Rice formed into a flat square and wrapped with plastic wrap to chill and dry.
  1. Shape the rice. Once the rice has chilled, cut the rice into bitesized rectangles.
Slicing a block of cooled rice into bite sized rectangle pieces.
  1. Pan fry the rice. In a medium skillet, heat about 1/2-3/4 cup of vegetable oil on high heat until hot for about 30 seconds. Gently, place the rice into the pan leaving about 2 inches in between each piece. Be careful the oil may splatter. Cook on medium high heat for about 3 minutes or until golden brown and then flip and cook for an additional 2-3 minutes. Remove from the pan and place on a wire rack placed over a lined baking sheet to drain any excess oil.

Spicy Tuna

  1. Mix the ingredients. In a medium mixing bowl, add your chopped tuna, kewpie mayonnaise, sriracha, soy sauce, sesame oil, and lime juice. Mix until thoroughly combined.
A small glass bowl with freshly mixed spicy tuna.

Assemble

  1. Assemble. Add thinly sliced avocado pieces on top of the crispy rice. Then place 1-2 tablespoons of spicy tuna on top. Garnish with toasted sesame seeds, minced chives or scallions and a jalapeno or serrano pepper slice.
A plate of rice crisp topped with spicy tuna for an appetizer.

Tips for the Best Spicy Tuna Crispy Rice

  • Wash your rice! Washing your rice is always a vital step before cooking rice. Washing the rice removes the excess starch, dirt, dust, and debris from the rice grain. If you don’t wash your rice, the excess starch will gelatinize and make the grains become extra sticky and mushy.
  • Pack the rice. When molding the rice on your baking pan, make sure you gently pack in the rice as closely together without actually mashing the rice grains. You don’t want any large air bubbles that will make the rice fall apart when you fry it.
  • Chill the rice. You will need to chill the rice block in the refrigerator for a minimum of 1 hour or in the freezer for 30-45 minutes. The longer you chill the rice the easier it is to slice into cubes. You can chill the rice overnight.
  • Make sure the oil is hot before adding the rice. Test the readiness of the oil by dropping one grain of rice and if it rapidly sizzles, the oil is ready.
  • Cool the rice on a wire rack for maximum crispiness. After the rice is done, place the rice pieces over a wire rack to prevent them from getting soggy.

Storage Instructions

It is best to eat the crispy rice tuna fresh. However, you can store the leftover spicy tuna crispy rice in an airtight container in the refrigerator for a maximum of 2 days.

Frequently Asked Q’s & A’s

Where can I buy sushi-grade tuna?

Most grocery stores will sell sushi-grade tuna in their refrigerated seafood section. Ideally, if you are located near a Japanese grocery store I would purchase it from there. You must trust the store that you are purchasing the fish from. Make sure the tuna is vibrant in color and has today’s date on the packaging.

Can I adjust the spiciness of the spicy tuna?

Yes of course! You can reduce the amount of spiciness by adding less sriracha or alternatively using sambal oelek which is a milder chili sauce.

What kind of rice is best for crispy rice?

The ideal rice for sushi grain is short-grain sushi rice. This rice is plump, sweet, and slightly sticky which will stick together, hold its shape nicely, be crisp on the outside yet soft on the inside when pan-fried.

How long does tuna stay fresh?

When storing sushi in the fridge, the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) advises that raw fish can be refrigerated for 1–2 days.

More Appetizer Recipes to Try

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Recipe

A close up of a spicy tuna crispy rice on an appetizer plate with more crispy rice.

Spicy Tuna Crispy Rice

4.85 from 19 votes
Prep Time 10 minutes
Cook Time 15 minutes
Chill Time 1 hour
Total Time 1 hour 25 minutes
This delicious spicy tuna crispy rice appetizer is made with crispy rectangles of seasoned sushi rice, fresh avocado slices and a dollop of deliciously creamy, umami flavored, spicy ahi tuna with a slice of jalapeño for an extra kick!
Servings: 32 pieces
Print Recipe

Ingredients

Sushi Rice

  • 1.5 cups sushi rice rinsed until water is clear
  • 2 cups water
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 3 tablespoon rice vinegar
  • 1 tablespoon granulated sugar
  • 1 teaspoon sesame oil

Spicy Tuna

  • 1 pound ahi tuna sushi grade finely chopped
  • 3 tablespoon Japanese kewpie mayonnaise
  • 2 tablespoon Sriracha
  • 1 tablespoon soy sauce for sushi and sashimi preferred
  • 2 teaspoons sesame oil
  • 1-2 teaspoon lime juice

Garnish

  • avocado
  • toasted sesame seeds
  • chives or scallions minced
  • jalapeño or serrano pepper sliced

Instructions

Crispy Rice

  • Prepare the rice. Thoroughly the rice 4-5 times until the water turns clear. Add the water and salt. Mix and cook the rice in a rice cooker.
  • Add in flavoring. In a small bowl, mix the rice vinegar, sugar and sesame oil until the sugar has dissolved. Once the rice is cooked, toss the mixture with the cooked rice in a large bowl and toss until combined.
  • Shape and refrigerate the rice. Place your flavored rice into a small square baking tray lined with plastic wrap and shape your rice into a 1/2 inch thick square block. Wrap and refrigerate for at least 1 hour or overnight. You can also freeze in the freezer for about 30 minutes. You want to chill the rice so that it is easy to cut into cubes.
  • Cut the rice. Once the rice has chilled, cut the rice into bitesized rectangles.
  • Pan fry the rice. In a medium skillet, heat about 1/2-3/4 cup of vegetable oil (or enough to fill an even thin layer on your skillet) on high heat until hot for about 30 seconds. Gently, place the rice into the pan leaving about 2 inches in between each piece. Be careful the oil may splatter. Cook on medium high heat for about 3 minutes or until golden brown and then flip and cook for an additional 2-3 minutes. Remove from the pan and place on a wire rack placed over a lined baking sheet to drain any excess oil.

Spicy Tuna

  • Mix the ingredients. In a medium mixing bowl, add your chopped tuna, kewpie mayonnaise, sriracha, soy sauce, sesame oil, and lime juice. Mix until thoroughly combined.

Assemble

  • Assemble. Add thinly sliced avocado pieces on top of the crispy rice. Then place 1-2 tablespoons of spicy tuna on top. Garnish with toasted sesame seeds, minced chives or scallions and a jalapeño or serrano pepper slice.

Notes

* Consuming raw or undercooked meats, poultry, seafood, shellfish, or eggs may increase your risk of food-borne illness. Check with Food and Drug Administration (FDA) and/or appropriate regulatory agencies regarding food safety recommendations.
  • Wash your rice! Washing your rice is always a vital step before cooking rice. Washing the rice removes the excess starch, dirt, dust, and debris from the rice grain. If you don’t wash your rice, the excess starch will gelatinize and make the grains become extra sticky and mushy.
  • Pack the rice. When molding the rice on your baking pan, make sure you gently pack in the rice as closely together without actually mashing the rice grains. You don’t want any large air bubbles that will make the rice fall apart when you fry it.
  • Chill the rice. You will need to chill the rice block in the refrigerator for a minimum of 1 hour or in the freezer for 30-45 minutes. The longer you chill the rice the easier it is to slice into cubes. You can chill the rice overnight.
  • Make sure the oil is hot before adding the rice. Test the readiness of the oil by dropping one grain of rice and if it rapidly sizzles, the oil is ready.
  • Cool the rice on a wire rack for maximum crispiness. After the rice is done, place the rice pieces over a wire rack to prevent them from getting soggy.

Nutrition:

Calories: 184kcal | Carbohydrates: 21g | Protein: 11g | Fat: 6g | Saturated Fat: 1g | Polyunsaturated Fat: 3g | Monounsaturated Fat: 2g | Trans Fat: 1g | Cholesterol: 16mg | Sodium: 381mg | Potassium: 122mg | Fiber: 1g | Sugar: 1g | Vitamin A: 831IU | Vitamin C: 2mg | Calcium: 8mg | Iron: 1mg

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Recipe Rating




  1. Hi! I’m assuming I’m mixing the 1 teaspoon salt with the rice vinegar, sugar and sesame oil in step 2? The salt was listed as a ingredient, but not mentioned in the steps and I just want to make sure!
    Thank you!

  2. Hi! I’m going to try this tonight. Should I use toasted sesame oil or regular? Thank you

    • Hi! You should use sesame oil to season the rice but regular vegetable oil or canola oil (or any other oil with a high smoke point) to fry the crispy rice!

  3. My wife tried making this recipe and the rice came out super hard and to crispy what do you think she did wrong

    • I’m sorry that it came out super hard! The oil temperature may have been too hot for the 3 minutes that she may have cooked it for or the rice was not as thick as how I made mine. Sometimes relying on the set time may not yield the right results since oil temperatures and rice thickness will vary. You will have to keep a close eye on when to remove the rice it may take a few batches of trial and error. Keep in mind that the rice will continue to cook even when it is pulled out of the oil so you may have to remove the rice slightly before you may think it looks golden brown. I hope this helps!

  4. The picture of cutting the rice shows 32 pieces, but the recipe says 12 pieces. In an attempt to prevent making too much for a group of 20, how many pieces can i expect from the recipe? Thanks

    • Hi Joseph,
      This ultimately depends on the size that you cut and shape your rice. I shaped my rice in a 9×9 baking pan, which is about 1/2 inch deep, creating 32 small pieces when I divided it up. For larger rectangles, you will yield fewer pieces.

      • Can you use a Masubi press to make the rectangles? Put Saran Wrap below, place press in middle, fill with rice, press, remove press, wrap up in Saran Wrap and freeze until needed…pull out how many you want to cook and keep the rest for a latter snack, dinner etc. Will be making and topping with Korean marinated egg for snack.

  5. Would it be possible to cook the tuna somehow? I have medical issues that don’t allow me to have raw anything, yet I know I love this kind of stuff because of a local restaurant several years ago.