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Ochazuke (茶漬け)

I am still suffering withdrawal syndrome from my recent bout Korean drama serials. After watching more than sixty episodes of Dong Yi, it is hard not to feel otherwise.

I need another distraction. Something to occupy my mind and soul.

So I went back to my most favourite thing to do in this world – reading cookbooks. More precisely I was researching on more Japanese recipes in hopes to bring my cooking skills to the next level. Throwing myself into learning to cook something new is always exciting. I can never know what I will like eating tomorrow. And it did help reduce the withdrawal syndrome. Sort of.

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I was digging around my fridge the other day trying to figure out something to make for dinner. Until I chanced upon a piece of baked salmon which was left over from lunch earlier. I said chanced cos I don’t do lunch duties these days.

So in order to avoid doing dinner duty that night, or rather minimal dinner duty, I thought of making ochazuke since there was minimal prep involved and yet it looks pretty to eat. I had it once in a Japanese restaurant. It was deliciously simple and yet comforting to eat. You need all the comforting you can get because I remember that you have to pay an arm and a leg for a bowl this. 

Despite the fact that the name implies that it is just green tea and rice, the version I had in that restaurant was served with a broth more savoury than just plain green tea. And that was when I had the idea to serve the rice with a broth made with traditional Japanese fish stock, dashi which is in almost every Japanese dish, and green tea. I didn’t have straight green tea so I used genmai-cha (roasted brown rice with green tea) which turned out good as it is my favourite type of tea.

By now I think you get the drift that I don’t have a recipe for you here since I was mostly going by instinct.

However, if you would like to try this version, here are a few pointers on how I made it and also check this site for a detailed recipe.

Cooking Know-How …. Ochazuke

Point #1: Rice. Leftover rice is okay, but please make sure that it  brought to room temperature before ladle over the hot broth. Some photos I have seen use yaki onigiri (grilled rice balls) instead of a mold of plain white rice which makes the presentation even more impressive.

Point #2: Broth. I made mine in the proportion of 2:1 dashi stock to green tea. The taste of tea was subtle but that was the only way I could get my princess to eat this. She is not really a tea drinker. Yet. So if I am making this for myself, I would probably go for 1:1 ratio. For detailed instructions on how to make dashi stock please head over to Just Hungry for her Japanese Cooking 101.

Point #3: Toppings. I have topped mine with flaked cooked salmon and cut roasted seaweed strips. I suppose this is another area whereby anything that takes your fancy goes in kinda thing. I’ve seen plums, grilled eel, pork belly strips, as well as raw fish slices atop the rice.

This is like the ultimate fast food, Japanese style.

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