Kiritanpo is a moulded and grilled rice stick that is a specialty of Akita prefecture. Originally devised as a way to easily transport rice to eat while hunting in Akita’s mountainous regions, it is also used in stews. This version of miso-glazed kiritanpo (known as “misotsuketanpo”) is coated in a sweet and savoury miso glaze and grilled until fragrant.
- 600 g (3 cups) short-grain rice
- 1 tbsp salt
- 250 ml (1 cup) warm water
- 100 g white or brown miso
- 2 tbsp honey
- 1 tbsp white sugar
- 2 tbsp soy sauce
Oven temperatures are for conventional; if using fan-forced (convection), reduce the temperature by 20˚C. | We use Australian tablespoons and cups: 1 teaspoon equals 5 ml; 1 tablespoon equals 20 ml; 1 cup equals 250 ml. | All herbs are fresh (unless specified) and cups are lightly packed. | All vegetables are medium size and peeled, unless specified. | All eggs are 55-60 g, unless specified.
Wash the rice well and place in a heavy-based saucepan. Cover the rice with enough cold water to reach about 2 cm above the surface of the rice. Boil, uncovered, over high heat until the water level reaches the top of the rice and holes appear in the surface where the steam escapes. Cover with a tight-fitting lid and reduce the heat to very low. Cook for 12 minutes. Remove from the heat and, stand, covered, for a further 5 minutes. Uncover the rice and transfer immediately to a large mortar or bowl. Half-mash the rice with a pestle (see note).
Combine the salt and warm water and stir to dissolve the salt (see note). While the half-mashed rice is still warm, wet your hands with the saltwater mixture. Mould the rice into cylinders around thick, square wooden skewers, pressing firmly so that the rice holds together.
To make the miso glaze, stir the ingredients together until well combined.
Arrange the skewers around the coals of an open fire. Grill, turning occasionally, until the kiritanpo begin to brown and steam escapes from the base of the skewers (see note). (You can also cook the kiritanpo in a frying pan or under a grill.) Brush kiritanpo with the miso glaze and continue to grill and turn, until the glaze is toasted and fragrant. Serve.
• In Japanese, the term for how much to pound the rice translates to “half-killed”. Too much pounding and the kiritanpo with have a pasty texture, and too little and the sticks will fall apart.
• The saltwater is used to keep the rice mixture from falling apart. It helps flavour the rice as well as forming a tasty crust on the outside of the kiritanpo.
• The kiritanpo is done when steam escapes from the base of the rice cylinders near the corner of the sticks.