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Ochazuke

Makes 1 serving

Ochazuke is a traditional, light Japanese comfort food composed of leftover rice, salmon, a few pantry staple garnishes like nori strips, sesame seeds, and umeboshi plums, all topped with a broth of either green tea or dashi. Tasting a bit like a wicked salmon sushi roll, it’s a quick meal that satisfies hunger without weighing you down, perfect for a sick day or a midnight snack, and uses ingredients that are staples in any Japanese pantry. The liquid used for this is dish is either dashi (a steeped broth made from water, kombu, and bonito flakes) or a proper green tea (my choice is genmaicha – green tea leaves and toasted rice). The choice is yours on which to use though, but if you’re unsure here’s what I say: choose green tea if you need an energy boost, and dashi if you’re looking for straight-up comfort. Traditionally the fish used in ochazuke is salted salmon (shiojake), but I wanted to simplify things a bit and prefer using a piece of raw organic salmon fillet that I’ve thinly sliced so that it cooks gently with the heat of the broth. Leftover short grain Japanese rice is always on-hand in a Japanese kitchen, and if that’s what you’re using I must advise that heating the rice thoroughly before using it in this or any dish is a food-safety must (Google it). Otherwise, make it fresh. My favourite thing about ochazuke is that you can customize the flavour according to your mood with all the amazing pantry staple toppings that require zero cooking or prep – just keep them handy! Fun fact: I literally just ate a bowl for breakfast and feel so satisfied and energized at the same time. Love this recipe!

What you need:

  • ½ salmon filet, sushi grade, sliced paper thin or diced very small for quick cooking
  • ½ teaspoon sea salt
  • 1 cup cooked Japanese short grain rice
  • Ochazuke with dashi
  • 3 cups water
  • 30 grams kombu
  • 5 g bonito flakes
  • 1 teaspoon mirin
  • Ochazuke with green tea
  • 2 teaspoon Genmaicha Japanese green tea
  • 1 cup hot water, according to heat level recommended on package directions

What you do:

For Dashi:
  1. Place water and kombu into a small saucepan and bring to a boil. Once boiling, turn off heat and remove kombu. Discard or save kombu for another use if you’d like.
  2. Sprinkle and submerge bonito flakes. Infuse 3 minutes. Strain through a fine mesh or cheesecloth-lined sieve to remove solids. Add mirin and stir to incorporate. Keep hot. If not using immediately, cool broth to room temp, cover and refrigerate up to 5 days.
For Genmaicha green tea:
  1. Steep tea according to package directions and keep very hot.

Garnishes

  • Sesame seeds
  • Sliced green onion
  • Shredded nori (kizami nori)
  • Wasabi
  • Japanese rice crackers
  • Chopped umeboshi plums, or umeboshi paste
  • Soy sauce – I recommend adding only ½ teaspoon at a time as it can be quite intense

Assembly:

  1. Chop/slice salmon finely, and season with the sea salt.
  2. To a serving bowl add hot/reheated rice. Top with salmon.
  3. Pour piping hot dashi or green tea over top, making sure to reach all salmon pieces. Garnish as desired and serve immediately.

Note: if you don’t have access to very fresh, sushi-grade salmon, feel free to use simply prepared cooked salmon that you’ve chopped up. If this is the case, I recommend steaming or baking the salmon.