Sunday, March 06, 2011

Japanese cooking: chicken and shiso dashi ochazuke

shiso leaves

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.

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.
I wasn't involved in the cooking, only in the eating, but here are the general instructions:

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.

dashi ochazuke

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.

Weekend CookingOther recipes:
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."




12 comments:

  1. How I wish I could readily find shiso leaves! I may have to visit a garden center and see if they have pots of them there. Also, green tea (and stock) over rice... does the food retain a distinct tea flavor? It is difficult for me to imagine how it tastes like :)

    All in all it looks like a nice meal that indeed would go down really well as comfort food.

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  2. Interesting recipe! It's a sort of rice-soup but not quite. I like it! So the shiso you don't need to cook, just the hot stock is enough?

    I might try a variant of your recipe sometime, but probably not with shiso - I don't think it can be found here.

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  3. That looks absolutely lush - i think i might have to make an attempt if i get the time next week!

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  4. Chinoiseries - We were just talking about that last night, how it might be hard to find fresh shiso outside of Japan, for when we move someday. So we figured if we can't find it, the next best would be to get seeds and grow it ourselves.

    The green tea, or stock, are quite mild so they don't overpower the others at all. In fact, it would be pretty bland without any savoury toppings. And the wasabi adds a extra kick. ;)

    Judith - Especially this version with the chicken stock, it's very like chicken rice soup. We ate it with spoons rather than chopsticks.

    The shiso is a herb so it's just like adding fresh basil, or fresh coriander on top. Those two aren't typically Japanese but I think they would be nice to use as well, especially since shiso can be hard to find.

    The spinach I added had been blanched the day before and was cold, from the fridge. The hot stock was enough to heat it. Let me know if you try your own version of this.

    Young1 - It's really easy, and very flexible. Enjoy!

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  5. Oh I see, it's a herb and not really a vegetable. So coriander would be good to use, I think. Thanks!

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  6. Judith - Yes, I think coriander would be a good alternative. It's different but has its own unique flavour.

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  7. This is really helpful :) It sounds tasty too ^^

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  8. Oh this sounds like an Asian risotto (kind of). We can't find shiso leave here. I like the idea of this, though and could adapt it to what is available around here.

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  9. This looks so delicious as well as healthy. I love the bright colors and the simple lines.

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  10. I'm thinking of you and hope you are safe!!!!!!

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  11. How cool HB made you such a nice dinner!

    I'd love to try fresh shiso leaves someday. I've been on the lookout but never saw them in any of the Asian shops I've been to here in The Netherlands -- I guess that's because they wilt quickly.

    I tried ochazuke once and that wasn't a success. Okay, so I admit the package was past expiration date. LOL Still, the experience has made me reluctant to try again.

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