Yesterday, H offered to make dinner. This is a fairly rare occurrence since he's usually very busy with work during the week, so of course I took him up on it. I never say no to someone cooking for me! The next step was deciding what to make. I'd bought a bunch of shiso leaves a little earlier in the week since they were so cheap (about 50 leaves for 100yen, less than US$1). Shiso (perilla) is a herb from the mint family and shows up frequently in Japanese food. It is often eaten with sushi or sashimi, but is also added to various other dishes. It has a distinct flavour that goes especially well with umeboshi (pickled plums), fish, and chicken. Fresh shiso leaves tend to wilt fairly quickly though so it's best to use them as soon as possible. Since we also had some leftover rice in the fridge, he decided to make dashi ochazuke which is a simple, tasty meal and a great way to use up leftover rice, especially if it has dried out a bit.
From Wikipedia: ochazuke (お茶漬け, from o + cha "tea" + tsuke "submerge") is a simple Japanese dish made by pouring green tea, dashi (soup stock), or hot water over cooked rice roughly in the same proportion as milk over cereal, usually with savoury toppings.I wasn't involved in the cooking, only in the eating, but here are the general instructions:
Common toppings include tsukemono, umeboshi (both types of pickles), nori (seaweed), furikake, sesame seeds, tarako and mentaiko (salted and marinated Alaska pollock roe), salted salmon, shiokara (pickled seafood) and wasabi.
First he cut up some chicken into bite size pieces and sautéed them in a fry pan in a bit of sesame oil, and seasoned with salt and pepper.
Instead of green tea, he made dashi to pour over the rice. Since we were having chicken, he made the dashi from water, chicken stock powder, and a splash of soy sauce for extra flavour.
Then using scissors, he cut the shiso leaves into strips.
Finally, he put a portion of warm rice (reheated since it was cold from the fridge) in a deep bowl for each of us, and then we put on our toppings and poured the dashi over it. My toppings were the chicken, shiso leaves, toasted sesame seeds, a bit of wasabi, an umeboshi, and some leftover spinach that I'd blanched the night before for dinner. H skipped the umeboshi and added fresh chopped green onions to his.
Voila! A healthy, warm meal great for a cold night.
Note: To make it vegetarian, instead of chicken, use tofu cut into chunks. And use either green tea, or konbu (seaweed) dashi instead of chicken stock.
Ochazuke with salmon flakes (bento.com)
Ochazuke, rice with tea (justhungry.com)
Weekend Cooking is hosted by Beth Fish Reads and is "open to anyone who has any kind of food-related post to share."