Garnished Rice with Tea

Ocha-zuké

This is a classic light meal or snack throughout Japan and a lovely way to make use of leftovers. There are many variations on the basic theme, most notably tori cha-zuké made with shreds of steamed chicken and shake cha-zuké made with chunks of salt-grilled salmon. All are typically accompanied by an assortment of bright, crisp pickles.

Ingredients

  • 3 cups cooked rice (made from cups raw rice according to master recipe); leftovers are perfect
  • 1 tablespoon white sesame seeds
  • 1 sheet Asakusa nori (dark dried laver)
  • Optional: 1 steamed chicken breast or 1 slice salt-grilled salmon; leftovers of either are fine
  • 2–3 tablespoons chopped coriander
  • ¼ teaspoon wasabi (fiery green horseradish) or ½ teaspoon peeled and grated fresh ginger
  • 2 cups very hot, freshly brewed ocha (green tea; tea making described)

Method

Divide the rice among 4 deep bowls. Dry roast the sesame seeds until golden ( for details), crush them coarsely in a suribachi or blender, then sprinkle some over each bowl of rice.

Dry roast the laver by waving it back and forth over direct medium heat for about 1 minute. Fold and tear the crisp sheet into 20 small rectangles and place 5 of them on each of the bowls of rice.

If making tori cha-zuké, shred the steamed chicken fine and garnish each bowl with some of the shreds. If making shake cha-zuké, remove skin and bones from cooked fish, break it into small chunks, and divide the fish among the 4 bowls.

Garnish each individual portion with some chopped coriander and either a small dab of fiery horseradish or a small mound of ginger. Pour ½ cup of very hot tea over each bowl and serve immediately.

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