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Jun 1, 2011 06:38 AM

Seductions of Rice; Gohan, Sushi, Mochi: The Japanese Way

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    1. We had a number of little dishes for lunch on Sunday. Inarizushi, kinpira gobo, cucumber and wakame salad and asparagus in a sesame sauce (asaparagasu no goma yogoshi).

      Brown Bag Sushi (inari zushi) p. 222

      Begin by pouring boiling water over the abura age (fried tofu pocket) and squeeze out excess water and cut in half. This helps eliminate excess oil. Next put dashi, soy, mirin and sugar in a pan, bring to a boil, add the abura age and place a lid (I used a wooden drop lid- otoshi buta) on the tofu pockets and simmer 15-20 minutes, drain excess liquid and stuff each pocket with sushi rice.

      This is not very labor intensive and the results are tasty. This makes a great, portable snack too. Pre-seasoned inari zushi is available in a can, but the flavors are much stronger and sweeter. Making your own results in better balanced flavors.

      Kitsune is the Japanese word for fox, not inari.

      4 Replies
        1. re: BigSal

          Big Sal, so spare and elegant -- ! ... Maybe inari means brown bag, or "little football" :)

          ctually, a 4-second Google check just told me inari means both "shrimp", and "successful one".


          I have (oops) bought little cans of the pre-made, so will try this tonight. I remember liking this kind of sushi in Hawaii as a child (1950s). And I'm glad to see the recipe for sushi rice in the book is about identical to the one in my rice cooker cookbook. This is the cover recipe--there is a little ball of seed-covered rice in the picture too, I think it's just the sushi rice without the jacket/pocket.

          1. re: blue room

            I hope you like it. It is definitely not as strongly seasoned as the cans. These are also a very nostalgic treat for me. growing up, my mom would make these for us frequently. They were always well received by our friends that were not familiar with Japanese food.

          2. re: BigSal

            Brown Bag Sushi

            I was unable to find the fried tofu squares (or perhaps overlooked them in the crowded, fascinating shelves of the Asian market) but I did happen upon the prepared version in the refrigerated section of the store.

            Love this simple, tasty dish. I had friends over for dinner tonight, and made plates and plates of sushi. This was the first to disappear. A very carnivorous pal told me that he would eat tofu a lot more if it was prepared in this fashion all the time. I suppose frying in oil makes anything more appealing!

            I topped some with toasted sesame seeds, others with flying fish roe, and some with nori strips for variation. Yum!

          3. Winter stir-fry with root vegetables (Kinpira gobo) p. 194

            This is one of my favorite ways to eat gobo (burdock root). I like to eat this meatless, so I used half gobo and half carrots (julienned). The gobo is placed in water with a bit of vinegar to help keep its color and to remove the aku (bitterness). The gobo and carrots are stir-fried in sesame oil until tender and then soy sauce and mirin are added and very briefly simmered. Finish with sesame seeds and red pepper powder (I used shichimi togarashi).

            This is an easy dish that can be made in advance and served at room temperature. The kinpira cooking style can be used for other vegetables like celery, lotus roots, broccoli stems, green peppers, konnyaku, but I like the gobo/carrot version best.

            If you do not have mirin, you can use soy, sake and sugar instead.

            1. Cucumber and wakame salad p. 191

              The Japanese name for this dish is kyuri to wakame no sunomono. (I always like to know the name of a dish even if I don’t speak the language in case I go to that country, talk about food with a person from that country, etc. )

              Great recipe for the summer. The salad is cool and interesting texturally because of the addition of wakame. Soak wakame (mine was not salted) in water for 30 minutes then drain and rinse. I skipped the additional step of boiling. Squeeze dry. My wakame pieces were big, so I chopped mine up into small pieces. Remove bitterness from cucumbers, by slicing a piece from the stem and rub the cut surfaces until it foams and then rinse off. I peeled my cucumbers as the skins were quite thick. Seeded and juilienned cucumber is sprinkled with salt and let sit for 30 minutes. Squeeze excess moisture from cucumbers, add wakame (I did not use the whole amount) and dress with soy, rice vinegar, sake, water, sugar and salt (I did not use all of the dressing either). A refreshing and gently seasoned salad.

              3 Replies
              1. re: BigSal

                I made this as well, and wasn't too pleased with the results. I don't think it was the fault of the recipe though, it may just have been to much wakame for me. Perhaps if I reduced that amount, it would have been more enjoyable, but it just had too much sea flavour for my liking. I enjoyed the flavours of the dressing though.

                1. re: Allegra_K

                  I thought the amount of wakame suggested was too much too. I just added some until it looked right to me.

                2. re: BigSal

                  Cucumber and wakame salad p. 191

                  I also made this. I have noticed that wakame comes in two forms, that I have seen. One is just called wakame, and is big pieces, and the other is wakame flakes, which are smaller (but are not flakes when rehydrated, they are 2-3 inch square after soaking). I happened to have the latter. The recipe did not specify which kind to get. I had a hunch that if you had the flakes, you would need less, so I used 1/2 the amount called for. That was still way too much. Probably about 1/8 the amount called for would be appropriate if you are using the flakes. I soaked and boiled as directed, then drained, pressed dry, and chopped into small pieces. I used one American cucumber, and I didn't seed it, just because I forgot. Made the dressing as directed. It was a bit more than needed for the cucumber and wakame. The end result was quite good, but I made a lot of modifications on the fly. I feel that the recipe as written was vague and the proportions were off. Still, it's a good dish worth experimenting with.

                3. Sesame Sea Salt (gomashio) p. 187

                  This is a very common dry condiment for rice, the general term for it is furikake. There are a ton of different flavors of furikake, but this is definitely a classic. Roast black sesame seeds for a few minutes, add sea salt (I used grey sea salt) and toast 30 seconds. Sprinkle on top of rice. It is very simple, but adds a little variety to the rice. My Mr. isn’t crazy about plain white rice and this addition adds just enough to have him enjoy a bowl.

                  2 Replies
                  1. re: BigSal

                    also a great seasoning for onigiri Yummy!!!

                    1. re: PazzoPerSushi

                      Absolutely! Onigiri is on my list for later this week. I am making shiozake (salted salmon) to put inside.