JAPANESE MONTH: WASHOKU: Rice and Noodles
Please use this thread to discuss and review recipes from the chapters about rice and noodles.
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Cooked White Rice (Gohan), Pg. 137
This was not an unqualified disaster but almost. For the pan, anyway, it was. Yes, we burned the rice. Japanese rice = different proportions rice to water than we are familiar with. We used the formula Ms Andoh gives for 2 cups of cooked rice: "1 cup Japanese-style white rice, washed/drained and 1 cup plus 2 tablespoons filtered water." There are directions for larger amounts of cooked rice as well.
We had the requisite 2 qt. pot into which go the rice and water. Let the rice soak for 10 minutes before turning on the heat. Cover the pan tightly, turn up the heat to high, and bring to a rolling boil. It is specified to keep the pan covered at all times with just the tiniest peek toward the end of cooking, if necessary. You're supposed to rely on clues to tell how the rice is progressing: Stage 1, bubbling noises and dancing lid. When you hear and see that at Stage 2, turn down the heat to low and continue to cook till you hear a hissing noise. You are advised to peek quickly and replace lid immediately. Water should be almost absorbed. Turn up the heat to high for a second to dry the rice. Then take pan off heat and let rice stand, covered, for 10 minutes. Well, we saw steam but no noise or dance, then we smelled burning. Those were definite clues for us.
G scraped a bit of rice from the top so we could taste. It was delicious, much to our chagrin. We managed to get two servings from the pot to have with the tangy chicken thighs and broccoli and together it was a very nice meal, I thought. The pot, OTOH, soaked all night in "Ajax water". After a good scrub this morning and a change of Ajax water it is still soaking... Charmaine Solomon, in her "The Complete Asian Cookbook", has a very different method for cooking the gohan that I'm going to try. Will report back.
Thanks Sal. It's going to be an uphill battle - er I mean - a learning curve for us this month. We've resisted getting a rice cooker as yet another small electric appliance but I'm now thinking of an electric fry pan too after reading about using one for hot pots. For the time being, though, I want to see how we get along with regular pots & pans.
I too thought, who needs a rice cooker? But after the umpteenth time of not watching carefully and cleaning up the boil over, I got one, and am sure glad that I did. It cooks the rice without my paying attention to it, and holds it at done until the rest of the meal (to which I can now pay more attention) is ready.
re: Splendid Spatula
I have to say I 100% conquer with the comments on the rice cooker. I resisted for years but after a few batches of mushy rice I got fed up and decided to ask a few of my in laws (my partners family is Chinese) what I was doing wrong, and the resounding answer from three of the aunties was the same, my mistake aw that I wasn't using a rice cooker. I bought one that day and never looked back.
Many thanks for your comments Splendid Spatula and Delys.
We have Never had any problem cooking all kinds of rice. Have done for years and years... perfect fluffy jasimne, basmati, cannerolli, aborio, Carolina, brown, wild, etc. every time. It was the proportion of rice to water and the much shorter grain of Japanese rice that through us off. After this fiasco, though, I tried a gohan recipe from another book and the result was stunningly spectacular, so now I'm satisfied...
re: blue room
I resisted a rice cooker for years but finally bought one. I still make it in a saucepan occasionally as my rice cooker is also a splendid slow cooker.
When I'm at my parents' house, as they don't have a suitable saucepan with tight fitting lid, I use this method:
It's perfect for those with lidded frying pans.
It's extremely similar to Andoh's method so worth trying if you're struggling or feel intimidated.
Many years ago my Spanish grandmother gave me a pan with a lid where the lid has a thermostat. The instructions were to put the pan over the hob over a high heat until the dial got to a set point and then lower it so that it never went over another point. With these foolproof guidelines I got pretty good at gauging the amount of heat and when to change it so that I could easily do the same thing without the thermometer. This means I was fully prepared for cooking Japanese rice on a hob when the time came.
First part of the recipe you haven't mentioned, and that's to get the best rice you need to rinse it well and just as important.... you need to let it drain. Half an hour minimum is ideal for this as the rice should become opaque but each grain should be dry. If you're pressed for time this can be skipped, but I have to say that I've really started noticing the difference.
Tight fitting lid. If the pan is very big you might need a touch more water when making a small amount of rice. The lid really should be tightly capping the pan, if there are vents in the lid I seal them with wet kitchen paper. Andoh says soak for ten minutes, I do it for longer but agree that ten minutes works as a minimum.
"Place the water on a high heat and bring to a rolling boil. "
If you're unfamiliar with the time it takes take a couple of cups of water (or however many you intend using) and bring it to the boil without rice. If you have a glass lid you can use, so much the better. Turn on a stop watch and keep checking. Stop the clock once the water is on a rolling boil and looks ready for spaghetti.
Now turn the heat down to the absolute minimum. If you have gas hobs you might like to try bringing the water to the boil on the largest hob and then transferring the pot over to the smallest hob for the rest of the cooking time. Depending on the potency of your smallest hob, it might need the very minimum setting or just slightly over this. See if you can keep the water you just brought to the boil on a very gently simmer without it bubbling over.
If you have electric hobs that take time to warm up preheat a large ring and smaller ring and do the same.
Once you've figured out the time you need and the intensity (and lack of intensity) of the heat required follow Andoh's instructions using this as a guide. Hopefully, what she says about dancing and hissing will correspond to what you're doing. Unfortunately, I find these sort of 'use your senses' guides are at their best with the wisdom hindsight brings.
As for the pot.
When you rinse your rice, pour the first batch of white rinsing water into your burnt pan and leave it overnight. It should give the Ajax a run for the money.
Cooked White Rice, Gohan
Washoku pg 137
Our rice was perfect! The best Japanese rice we have ever made. My eating companion is the rice person in the house, and watching him listen to the pot was a bit comical. I didn't tell him Gio's exact issues, but did warn him that there had been 'issues.'
He is a Southern boy and said "I know rice." And, it seems he did!
New for us was after the rinsing, drying the rice in a colander for a half hour. In my case, it might have been a full hour.
Miso Soup with Enoki Mushrooms, Enoki no miso-jidaté, Washoku pg 117
Deep-Fried Marinated Chicken, Toriniku Tasuta-age,Japanese Cooking, page 234
Quick Turnip Pickles, Kabu no Sokuseki-zuk, Japanese Cooking, page 323
Mushroom Relish, Shiitake Kara-ni, Japanese Cooking, page 397
Sweet Vinegar Dressed Carrots, Amazu, Japanese Cooking, page 242
Great news about your rice exceeding your expectations, smtucker (and what a wonderful menu!). I always try and let my rice drain for a full hour whenever possible but Andoh doesn't explicitly request this.
Has anyone been adding seeds and grains to their rice yet? On the front cover of the book there is a picture showing a bowl of rice full of bits. I think it looks particularly delicious.
On Page 38 Andoh gives her advice on how to make a Zakkoku Mai mix.
Using this advice my own mix is made up of:
Poppy seeds (took me months to finally find white ones but black/blue were fine before I did)
sometimes a bit of quinoa and/or a few sesame seeds make it in to the mix.
(I'd love to get hold of the sticky millet Andoh uses but haven't seen it anywhere. I should be able to finally pick it up in Japan next month)
My husband also prefers rice with some Zakkoku Mai but tends to forget to add it. For years if he added anything to rice it would just be a few spoons of barley. Both barley and millet by themselves make lovely single grain additions to rice if you have them to hand.
I'd LOVE to know what other people are trying.
2 Tablespoons per 1.5 cups sounds completely right but I must admit that I usually make 3 cups at a time and add about 3 very generous tablespoons. You might like to add a little less than what Andoh suggests if you're just using one grain.
I'm sure any Chinese millet (and there must be many kinds) would be wonderful.
Millet added to rice cooks perfectly in the rice cooker. Just don't forget to add that little touch of extra water just as Andoh suggests.
Page 174 - Buckwheat Noodle Roll (Soba zushi)
This is the recipe I was most excited about when I purchased this book. I'd eaten soba zushi in Tokyo (at Kanda yabu soba) and my attempts to recreate it had been pretty messy. Andoh changed all that.
Since my daughter loves nori (if you've not figured it out already, small children almost invariably LOVE crisp nori - just cut it up small so that it isn't a choking hazard) and soba is an almost perfect food for kids I consider this recipe to be the ultimate snack food, both for serving at home and for eating on the go.
This morning I made a batch with avocado and julienned cucumber (to which I had applied the aku nuki technique she describes on pg76). If I'm make larger rolls more similar in size to that described in the recipe I might add rolled omelet. It gets a bit messy at this size when eaten by a toddler but it's still manageable and the combination is practically a meal.
But this morning I made smaller rolls than suggested. I did this by using half sheets of nori rather than whole ones (if this is new to you you might like to try a 2/3 size sheet and use the remaining third to wrap around rice balls like a belt or crunch over rice or cut into bits for the kids.)
I've found it isn't worthwhile tying the soba into smaller batches for coooking. It's easy enough to pinch half portion from the cooked cooled soba 'packages', slice it away and lay it on the smaller nori sheets. With small children the key is to ensure that you have enough free nori space left over on your sheet to make a secure fastening at the seam once you've rolled it up.
Personally (although these are at their best freshly made) I think these taste much better cold a few hours after making them than makizushi made with rice does so these are a bento staple for us in the way that rice based makizushi isn't.
I'm currently sipping on a hot broth made of the soba cooking water to which I've added some dashi concentrate (store bought not made from scratch). Lots and lots of B vitamins here which leached out of the noodles - have some of this with your meal and it makes soba a perfect food. It's very nice on a cold morning.
I used to find the cooking directions a bit confusing but got the hang out of it through practice. Here's a resource I found comparatively recently which makes the directions clearer. The blogger who posted these photos is in Andoh's kitchen in Tokyo taking a course:
Hope these photos make the recipe less daunting for anyone wanting to give it a go.
You inspired me to try it. Thanks for the link to clarify the instructions. I found her directions very, very confusing! Unfortunately, my kids weren't too fond of it so it's not worth the effort to do again. Definitely DO NOT tie the soba noodles together at one end. The end congeals together and doesn't cook properly.
Buckwheat Noodle Roll (Soba zushi) p. 174
I've been tempted to try this recipe ever since I saw MoGa's write up. This is fussier to make than maki zushi, but I did like the results. I made this with the ingredients listed in the book (cucumber, daikon radish sprouts, soba, wasabi and sesame seeds), but could see this working with many different fillings.
Pg 160 - Toasty Hand Pressed Rice (Yaki Omusubi AKA Yaki Onigiri)
This evening London had its first snowfall and with the husband just gone to work I took the little one out for a late stroll so she could see the transformed neighbourhood.
Before we left the house I'd already washed and drained the rice, added the grains and left the rice to soak for an hour. I switched the rice cooker on and out we went.
My daughter was famished when we got back and it was short work to heat the pan, stir in a little salt and form the patties with wet hands and... I completely cheated here but used her instructions on page 96 for inspiration so I took a small bowl and added (roughly) a teaspoon of sugar, a drop of Mirin, a dribble of sake, a couple of tablespoons of soy sauce and a couple of tablespoons of commercial dashi concentrate. (But this has been a good reminder that it's worth making a batch up of Andoh's recipe to keep in the fridge)
The shaped rice was plonked onto the searing hot pan and left for a couple of minutes, once the first side was browned I flipped and brushed the seasoning onto the top whilst still in the pan (it sinks through the rice and a few drops caramelise on the other side which I quite enjoy). It was all done in less than ten minutes . We didn't mind just having the one kind of patty and rather than brush with nori sauce I just wrapped a piece of crisp nori round the patties just before eating them.
I was going to use the leftovers to make the ochazuke on page 162 but none remained, they were all demolished. Seems my daughter wasn't the only one who was famished. We had genmaicha to drink and I can't imagine a nicer supper after a walk through the snow.
Pg 160 - Toasty Hand Pressed Rice (Yaki Omusubi AKA Yaki Onigiri)
We made all three kinds of onigiri for lunch (one with seasoned soy concentrate, one with leek miso and the other with nori sauce). My husband loved the leek miso the most. It is quite a tasty mixture. I also liked the nori sauce. This is a very nostalgic taste. There is a jar of this tsukuada ni nori called gohan desu yo that I have been eating for years. It adds a punch of flavor to white rice. The seasoned soy concentrate also made a nice onigiri. It was a nice little lunch treat, Crispy outside with topping of choice. I made these with the help of a mold. I do not have my mom's absbestos hands where she can take steaming hot rice and shape it into a triangle in no time flat. I will mention that I prefer regular onigiri with salted salmon in the inside more than yaki onigiri. As I was eating it, I was waiting for the delectable surpise in the middle that never came.
BigSal-- tell me more about what mold you use. I made onigiri with salmon flakes inside and my palms are still red. Do you have a favorite mold? My kids really like onigiri (and yaki onigiri actually, although I didn't grill them this time) but my hands aren't liking making them! I looked briefly on amazon and saw some different styles, but I am a little wary of putting hot rice into soft plastic. Let me know if anyone has a reccommendation. Thanks!
Glad that your children like onigiri. It's a favorite of children and adults alike. Salmon is definitely my favoriite filling, but you can be creative (Cooking with Dog has a variety including tuna fish). I use a mold similar to this. http://www.amazon.com/Japanese-Sushi-...
I wet the inside of the mold lightly to help prevent sticking. My mom salts her hands (wet so the salt will stick) before she molds the steaming hot rice instead of mixing salt in the rice like Andoh does.
If you'd prefer not to use a mold. Here's a method (one that I haven't tried) by Maki of Just bento. She uses plastic wrap to mold the rice.
Oyako Domburi Chicken Omelet over Rice p. 156 (half recipe)
Oyakodon is a simple and comforting dish. Put dashi, sugar, soy and sake in pan (I used an oyako nabe) when it starts to bubble add onions and chicken (I used chicken thighs instead of chicken breast) and simmer until chicken is white. Add eggs (just barely beaten) and cook until barely set. Top with mitsuba (fresh out, so I went without ). Serve over a bowl of hot rice. There are so many versions of this dish and this is a good one, but I needed to adjust it slightly. I reduced the amount of dashi from ½ c to 1/3-1/4 c. When I didn’t, it was too saucy for me. A very comforting, homey dish. The egg , onions, and chicken and flavored with the slightly sweet dashi mixture.
Kayaku Gohan (Rice with Vegetables and Seafood) p. 139
Mixed rice is a very versatile dish. You can choose different ingredients depending on what is in season (a late spring-time favorite of mine is mame gohan (rice with peas) and in the winter kuri gohan (chestnut rice)). My mom refers to this as maze gohan.
Simmer ingredients (carrots, gobo, konnyaku, and chikuwa (fish cake)- husband is not a fan of chikuwa, so I added konnyaku) in dashi, salt and sake until tender. Reserve broth and set vegetables aside. Cook rice in reserved broth. When rice is done, mix in the reserved vegetables and stand for 10 minutes. Top with a wonderfully fragrant ocean herb salt (ao nori and salt).
I made this with Tsuji’s dashi, so it may have a slighter stronger flavor, but this was a tasty way to dress up rice and a great way to use up leftover vegetables. This will be a great lunch for me this week. Tsuji’s version is more heavily seasoned (includes soy), but both are nice.