Ochazuke is a Japanese dish of cooked rice and flavourings, with hot green tea poured over. This recipe for a salmon and salmon roe version is a delicious and simple meal in itself. Japanese pickles are a perfect accompaniment, whether you make them yourself or buy them already made.
- 200 g salmon fillet
- 1 tsp vegetable oil
- 2 tbsp salmon roe
- 1 tsp good-quality light soy sauce
- 2 tbsp Japanese green tea leaves, such as sencha or houjicha
- 500 ml (2 cups) hot water
- ¼ head Chinese cabbage (wombok)
- 1 carrot, peeled and cut into half-moons
- 1 small cucumber, partially peeled and cut into wedges
- ½ tsp salt
- 1 piece of kombu, snipped with scissors into strips
- 2 cups warm cooked short-grain rice
- 1 tsp toasted sesame seeds
- few sprigs of mitsuba, roughly chopped (see note)
- 2 tbsp okaki (tiny rice crackers)
- ½ sheet nori, very finely sliced
- assorted pickles (optional)
- freshly grated wasabi
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.
Pickling time 30 minutes
To make the asazuke, cut the Chinese cabbage into 3 cm pieces and place in a resealable plastic bag. Add the carrot, cucumber, salt and kombu. Massage the salt into the cabbage until well-distributed and you start to see droplets of liquid appear on the inside of the bag. Squeeze out as much air from the bag as possible, and seal the bag. Stand the asazuke in the fridge for at least 30 minutes before serving (but longer than 1 hour is better).
Score the skin of the salmon and season well all over with salt. Heat a little oil in a frying pan until very hot. Cook the salmon, skin-side down, for about 2-3 minutes or until the skin is very crispy. Turn and cook for a further 2-3 minutes or until the salmon is just cooked. Transfer to paper towel and rest for 1 minute, to soak up any oil. Using your hands, break the salmon and skin into large pieces.
Dress the salmon roe with soy sauce and mix through.
Place the tea leaves in a teapot and add the hot water. Stand to infuse for 2 minutes.
Place the rice in a bowl. Top with the sesame seeds, mitsuba, okaki, salmon flakes, salmon roe and nori. Serve with the pickles, wasabi and a pot of tea on the side. To eat, pour strained hot tea over the rice.
• Mitsuba is a Japanese herb otherwise known as trefoil. If you can’t find mitsuba, you could use shiso leaves instead.