HOME > Chowhound > Home Cooking >


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

Include recipe page number and reviews.

  1. Click to Upload a photo (10 MB limit)
  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.

                2. Brown Bag Sushi ... page 222

                  This is sushi rice, a moist, sweet-sour-salty crowd-pleaser way to prepare Japanese rice, in a moist pocket/envelope made of tofu. Japanese rice is medium-grain, a little sticky, I used Nishiki brand from California. (According to the book, actual Japanese rice is not exported from Japan!)

                  I used pre-seasoned prepared tofu, canned (picture below). You drain these little fried tofu packets and then open them and fill them with sushi rice. Little bits of vegetables (or protein!) can be mixed with the rice--pickled or fresh--ours tonight are plain.

                  Serving with very American "ginger chicken" from my freezer, and cantaloupe.

                  If you have even a bit of curiousity about this type of sushi I'd recommend it--

                  very very tasty.

                  1 Reply
                  1. re: blue room

                    Your inarizushi look lovely and I love the plate their on too. Did it take you back to your time in Hawaii?

                  2. Herbed Rice p. 211

                    This dish, shiso gohan, couldn’t be easier as long as you can find shiso. Mix shredded shiso (green in my case) with rice and a touch of salt. I added the goma shio I made to put on top. If you enjoy the taste of shiso, this is a tasty and fragrant addition to rice. My husband isn’t crazy about shiso- too mediciny tasting? So plain rice for him with yakitori.

                    2 Replies
                    1. re: BigSal

                      From Wikipedia: " In the summer of 2009, Pepsi Japan released a new seasonal flavored beverage, Pepsi Shiso. "

                      It's funny -- I remember the inari sushi as bigger -- but I simply had smaller hands.
                      The liquid in the canned tofu was sweet, but the flavor seemed right-- and it made the preparation so easy. My Mr. liked it very much (to his great surprise) but had a hard time understanding rice at room temperature.

                      1. re: blue room

                        Here's a picture. Pepsi Shiso?! What a combination.

                    2. Quick Morning Miso Soup p. 190

                      This was simple, lip-smacking soup that I made to go with mushroom rice. My family was fighting over who got the last bowl, so it was well-received by all.

                      Start by making a dashi broth (I made the Classic Dashi on p.180, nothing more than kombu, water, and bonito flakes) and adding small tofu cubes to the simmering broth. Dissolve red miso into a small amount of broth, heat the soup back to just under a boil, and voila! Soup's on! I added some strips of wakame to the broth for a bit more colour and texture, and sprinkled in sliced green onion. Such a simple food is a delight to eat and a snap to make. The miso and the bonito flakes give it that desirable umami feeling, so although it is mostly broth, it is very satisfying. We added rice to our bowls as needed. I'll be making this often.

                      2 Replies
                      1. re: Allegra_K

                        Quick Morning Miso Soup p. 19

                        This soup was part of our dinner tonight. We made this with the classic dashi broth and red miso. I added wakame (leftover from the wakame cucumber salad) to the tofu and green onions. Mmmm. Simple and soothing.

                        1. re: BigSal

                          Forgot to attach the picture.

                      2. Autumn Rice with Mushrooms p.212

                        Made this the other day to go with miso soup, wakame and cucumber salad, and edamame. It was earthy and filling, as you'd expect from a mushroom-flavoured rice.

                        One thing I always forget to do is allow myself time for the japanese rice to stand moistened in the sieve for 1/2 hour. Consequently, we are always eating dinner a bit later than intended. I had planned on using solely shiitakes for the recipe, but it turned out that some of my mushrooms were not as fresh as I would have liked, so I used a mixture of shiitakes and enokis. The mushrooms are simmered in a dashi broth, but I used a diluted version of 'Mariko's Must-Have Concentrated Stock' (p.184) instead. Since this stock has dried shiitakes in it, I don't think I was missing much flavour from my lack of fresh mushrooms. Added to the broth is mirin, sake, and soy sauce. When the mushrooms are tender, they are reserved, and the remaining broth is used to cook the rice. Once done, the mushrooms are stirred back in and dinner is served.

                        Despite the dark colour of the broth, the rice came out fairly mild tasting. I was concerned it would be too strong or salty, but it was a non-issue. We used the optional 7-spice powder sprinkled over the rice, and it really punched up the flavour of the dish. I imagine toasted sesame seeds would have the same effect.

                        This made a lot of rice. I have plenty of leftovers that I plan on using in another batch of miso soup. I also will be making onigiri rice balls with the leftovers, perhaps filled with kombu relish or bonito flakes and soy sauce and rolled in sesame seeds.

                        1 Reply
                        1. re: Allegra_K

                          Gosh that sounds excellent, even though I've never tasted most of the ingredients! When I first got this book I figured the Spanish & Mexican would have the most appeal (in my white bread home), but oh the Japanese!

                        2. Easy Rice Balls (onigiri) p. 206

                          This was dinner tonight, but this is a great lunch or even a casual picnic food because it can be eaten at room temperature and easily packed. This is a nostalgic dish for me, as my mother would often make onigiri for us as kids. I always marveled at how she was able to quickly mold the steaming hot rice into triangles – asbestos hands. We made this tonight with leftover, reheated rice, but I wish I had made them with fresh hot rice. I also cheated and used an onigiri rice mold. We filled ours with shiozake (salted salmon I made with Copper River salmon) and covered some with black sesame seeds.

                          2 Replies
                          1. re: BigSal

                            Do you have a recipe for the shiozake that you would be willing to share? I picked up a gorgeous fillet of copper river salmon to use with sushi tonight, but I was too nervous to use it in its raw form. Salted I could do.

                            1. re: Allegra_K

                              This is the recipe I used. http://justbento.com/handbook/johbisa.... It is highly seasoned (salty), so a little goes a long way. I will use shiozake for the ochazuke recipe in the book tomorrow. When my aunts came to visit from Japan, they made a quicker version that they salted and rested about 15-30 minutes and then cooked, rather than waiting several days.

                          2. Black Konbu Relish p. 186

                            This dish is called konbu no tsukudani in Japanese. Chopped konbu is added to boiling water and vinegar and then simmered for 1 hour. This helps soften the konbu even more. Soy and sugar are then added until reduced. Then stir in sesame seeds.

                            If you are curious to try the recipe, but don’t have konbu, you can make something similar with toasted nori – a great way to use nori that’s not the freshest. Just soften nori pieces in water. The simmer with water, sugar, soy and mirin until jam-like consistency. This is called nori no tsukudani.

                            This is a concentrated flavor, so a little goes a long way. Very classic salty/sweet flavors coupled with the somewhat gelatinous konbu.. I ate this with plain rice, but it also good inside an onigiri (rice ball).

                            The tsukudani treatment (simmering in sweetened soy sauce) can be done with mushrooms, meat and seafood too.

                            1. Mackerel Sushi p. 224

                              So, okay, this land-locked prairie dweller may not be the best person to review a recipe involving food of salt-water origins, but I tried it anyways!

                              Due to aforementioned very long distance from ocean waters, finding fresh mackerel was a bit tricky. Impossible, actually. I did, however, locate a skin-on, frozen, pre-marinated in vinegar version of this fish. Off to a great start. Since most of the work was already done for me, here are my notes.

                              This is essentially a log of vinegared sushi rice with a fish fillet pressed into the top. Skinning the fillet is a bit tricky; you want to have the underskin remaining on the fish, for a beautiful finished look of striped silver and grey. The underskin on my fish did not wish to separate from the outer skin, so is not as aesthetically pleasing as I had hoped. Another thing I would make sure to do next time is to press the rice log into a firmer package than I had done; the rice crumbled a bit during slicing due to my feeble attempts at log-shaping.

                              I spread a touch of wasabi between the fish and the rice. The fish was......strong. It still lingers on my palate hours later. Perhaps it would be much more delightful for someone with access to beautiful, fresh mackerel.

                              5 Replies
                              1. re: Allegra_K

                                I'm sorry that your dish didn't taste as lovely as it looks, because the presentation is spectacular. What was the makizushi on the other side made of?

                                1. re: BigSal

                                  Thank you!
                                  I think I used up some leftover mackerel strips, pickled daikon, and perhaps cucumber, kewpie mayo, sriracha. Spicy mackeral roll? Hehe. I made piles of sushi tonight!

                                  1. re: Allegra_K

                                    Classic Sushi Roll-ups p.217

                                    Although I didn't use the ingredients for the maki rolls, I did follow the instructions for the rolling, and they were perfectly clear for this novice sushi-maker. I julienned a plate full of different ingredients, and just played around with the combinations for the night. Once I became comfortable with the regular rolls, I also attempted to make inside-out rolls. Much fun was had by all. The offspring had a blast making their own rolls!
                                    I served this with piles of homemade pickled ginger from the recipe on page 202.
                                    There were no leftovers, and we all drifted happily off into a sushi-induced food coma.

                                    1. re: Allegra_K

                                      Very nice! How old "the offspring"?

                              2. Hen-and-Egg Rice ... page 210
                                (Oyako Donburi)
                                Parent and child, mother and baby, chicken and egg -- a good way to name a "comfort food".
                                This is de-lectable. Chicken breast strips are marinated in sake and soy sauce. Shiitake mushrooms are plumped, and a nice broth gets made from dashi, the mushroom water, soy sauce, rice vinegar, a little jot of sugar, and sliced scallions. This is flavorful -- and in it goes the chicken and mushrooms. Simmer 'til the chicken's cooked, then gently add some beaten/whisked eggs. The eggs will sit on top of the mixture since it's just barely boiling. Let the eggs set for 20 seconds, then cover and let them cook through for 2 minutes or so.
                                This savory chicken-egg-mushroom-umami goodness is then spooned over nice hot rice. I can see why it's a very well known and popular dish. Did everyone know about this but me?

                                1 Reply
                                1. re: blue room

                                  Lovely! I really like donburi dishes (rice bowls with toppings). So comforting and quick and easy. If your Mr. loves beef as much as mine does, you could try gyudon. Thinly sliced beef seasoned with dashi, sake mirin and soy. The seasoned beef goes on top of rice. I also like to add a poached egg to make it extra decadent and filling. yum.

                                2. Soothing Tea Rice (ochazuke) p. 213

                                  Literally, this means tea pickle. This is another comfort food from my childhood. We would eat the pre-packaged ochazuke mix for a quick meal. When my brother and I wanted this dish, we’d ask my mom to make us “dirty gohan” (dirty rice). I guess we thought the seasoning packet made the rice look dirty.

                                  This meal came together in an instant. We used leftover rice, topped with shiozake (the salted salmon I made with Copper River Salmon), bubu arare (rice crackers), nori (cut into thin strips and toasted), sliced green onions, mitsuba and a touch of wasabi. We added hojicha tea to this. It looked inviting, but we were disappointed with the first bite, because it tasted flat. We added a bit of salt and that did the trick. I suspect that the salt was not necessary to the original recipe, because they suggest that this be served with several Japanese pickles.

                                  1 Reply
                                  1. re: BigSal

                                    We both had childhood comfort bowls today, yours sure looks jazzy!

                                    I really like the texture of that Japanese rice -- you could practically put strawberries & cream over it.

                                    Thanks for the gyudon suggestion.