Shake no Ochazuke

salmon ochazuke

Salmon Ochazuke

Perhaps the simplest, most homey Japanese food, Ochazuke is basically tea poured over rice. Traditionally, ochazuke comes at the end of an elaborate meal, maybe as a way to bring you back down to earth, but its often eaten by itself for lunch or a quick meal.

On the last day before I returned to the states after studying abroad here in Kyoto for a year, I got to request the meals at my hostfamily's. For lunch, we had ochazuke and for dinner, sashimi, perhaps the most ordinary and most refined meals in Japanese cuisine. Ochazuke is so plain, people have compared me to elderly Japanese for liking the dish.

Usually people add little flavor packets to the tea/rice combination that have nori seaweed, mini rice crackers (arare), dried salmon flakes, and green tea-flavored salt pieces. But then, who knows what's actually in these packets and how they preserve the fish bits. It's a bit questionable if you ask me. So I tried to recreate it, with some help from Maki's ochazuke recipe.

Shake no Ochazuke (鮭のお茶づけ

Basically, this recipe can be split into three main parts: rice, tea, and stuff for flavor. Like Maki says, the stuff is probably difficult to find outside of Japan unless you have a good Japanese grocery store nearby, but I imagine its possible to get a good part of the ingredients together.

I cooked the rice fresh for my ochazuke, but day-old rice or frozen rice can be reheated and works fine since there are so many things added to it for this dish.

Any green tea works for this dish. I used a genmai-cha, which has little popped rice kernels in it, but gyokuro-cha, sen-cha, or hoji-cha would work well too, to different effects.

As for the flavor bits, I used the stems and leaves of mitsuba, which is similar to Italian parsley, though mitsuba is a bit bitterer and less spicy. I fried a salmon steak with salt until it was lightly browned on the outside and still juicy on the inside, and then broke it up with my chopsticks, taking out the bones in the process. With scissors, I cut a sheet of nori (the same stuff you use to roll up California or other sushi rolls) into thin strips. The little brown dots in the picture are arare, small rice crackers that give the dish a bit of crunch, though perhaps you could break up other senbei-type rice crackers. A dash of salt and perhaps a dab of wasabi finish the dish.

Ittadakimasu!

5 thoughts on “Shake no Ochazuke

  1. Gosh, that looks very tasty. I’m always a bit suspicious of those packets too.

    I’m lucky enough to have several good Japanese grocery shops near me, so I’ll certainly be checking your blog from now on. I’ll add a link from my blog http://101things.wordpress.com . I’d be most happy if you wanted to reciprocate.

  2. One of my very favorite Japanese dishes! But then I’m a fan of rice soup/porridge in any form …. bubur, khao tom, jook, zhou. It’s not a food that’s immediately appealing to the uninitiated – I get some pretty blank stares when I try to explain to folks back home the deliciousness of a good bowl of rice porridge.

  3. Robyn,

    If you’re looking for Japanese rice porridge, look no further than kayu. It’s easily made with old rice, generally savory rather than salty, and topped with pickled plums (umeboshi) or mixed with egg or… another extremely simple, homey, yet wonderfully delicious dish.

  4. Pingback: tea with rice

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