matcha cookies

Slice-and-Bake Matcha Cookies

To celebrate Let’sLuncher Grace Hwang Lynch’s (HapaMama.com) soon-to-be-completed house remodel, this month’s #LetsLunch theme is “housewarming.” And I’m baking Grace some matcha (green tea) cookies to help her settle in!

Slice-and-Bake Matcha Cookies with White Chocolate Chips

matcha cookies

Matcha powder is available at specialty tea shops and Asian markets. Buy a good-quality Japanese matcha powder, and not green tea leaves.

Time: 30 minutes
Makes: About 4 dozen cookies

2 tablespoons matcha powder
2 cups all-purpose flour
2 sticks (8 ounces) unsalted butter, at room temperature
1 cup organic cane sugar
2 large egg yolks, at room temperature
Pinch of salt
1 teaspoon vanilla or almond extract
¾ cup white chocolate chips

  1. Sift the matcha and flour into a medium bowl and set aside.
  2. Put the butter and sugar into a large mixing bowl and use a hand mixer (or a stand mixer, you lucky thing!) to beat at medium speed until well blended. Beat in the egg yolks, followed by the salt and vanilla. Reduce the mixer speed to low and add the flour/matcha mix in batches, beating until just incorporated. At this point, it’s better to underbeat than overbeat. Fold in the white chocolate chips with a rubber spatula. If the dough is still crumbly and/or there’s still errant bits of flour/matcha at the bottom of your bowl, just work everything into a smooth dough with the spatula, or your hands!
  3. Have two 15-inch pieces of plastic wrap ready. Divide the dough into half and shape/roll into logs about 8 to 10 inches long and 1 to 1-1/4-inch in diameter. Wrap each log tightly in plastic wrap and refrigerate for at least 30 minutes or overnight. To prevent it from flattening at the bottom, I’ve seen suggestions from rolling it out every so often to laying it in a bed of rice. I didn’t have a problem with flattening though.
  4. Position your racks to divide your oven into thirds and preheat to 350 degrees F. Line two cookie sheets with parchment paper.
  5. Roll the logs on a counter a couple of times to smooth it out. You may have to let it sit for a few minutes until it becomes more malleable to reshape it. Cut into discs 1/3-inch-thick with a small sharp knife.
  6. Arrange the cookies on the parchment-lined cookie sheets with about a 1/2-inch between them.
  7. Bake the cookies for 12 to 14 minutes, swapping their positions halfway, until they are set but not browned. Leave them to cool on the cookie sheets for about 10 minutes (or they’ll be too soft and break apart) before transferring to a cooling rack to cool completely.

For more recipes check out Twitter using the hashtag #LetsLunch or pin with us on our Pinterest boards. A recipe round up of the other “Let’s Lunch” food writers with links to their blogs will be posted here shortly.

Happy Bento “Box-ing”

A few weeks ago, my food writer friend Debra Samuels (co-author of The Korean Table and author of My Japanese Table, both by Tuttle Publishing) came to Washington D.C. to do a bento box demonstration with the Smithsonian Associates.

Deb and I have only communicated via email and social media, but when I heard she was coming to town, I eagerly volunteered to help. I was delighted to discover that Deb is every bit as lovely in person!

We spent the day of the event (we were expecting 150 people!) prepping, prepping, and prepping.

Here is a slideshow with some highlights:

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

I’m sure many of you are dying to try your hand at bento “box-ing” so I asked Debra to give us some guidance on putting one together. Note that her focus is on kids’ bento boxes.

A cherry blossom-themed bento box for a girl
A cherry blossom-themed bento box for a girl

1. What are the most important elements of a bento box?

  • It’s all about balance and using foods that span 5 different colors: red, black/brown, white, green, yellow. With those colors it is deemed that you have a balanced meal
  • Have a variety of foods, whether in texture, cooking methods (boiled, stir-fry, fried) as well as types of food
  • Make it visually pleasing
  • Pay attention to nutritional value and portion sizes. Have smaller amounts of each food but a greater variety (see above, they are closely linked)
  • And my Japanese friends say “LOVE” is in the box
  • Usually rice or a carbohydrate (bread or pasta are fine too!) takes up to at least 1/3 of the box for a girl and up to half for a boy
  • Protein is also important. Sometimes boys will get 2 kinds of protein
  • Otherwise, meat, fish and chicken are often seen as okazu–side dishes–so they share equally in portion size with vegetables, fruit, etc.
These nori (seaweed) cups are a fun edible cup for holding rice or other foods
These nori (seaweed) cups are fun edible receptacles for holding rice or other foods

2. What tips can you share with us newbies?

  •  Look at a bento box as a food sampler of sorts
  • Concentrate on the colors
  • Have a few neat picks so that you can create a kabob, for example: skewer a turkey meatball, steamed broccoli and a cherry tomato and brush all with a glaze of teriyaki sauce (find cute picks and more bento accessories on Amazon.com!)
  • View this as a good opportunity to give your child some new foods in smaller amounts
  • Stock up on silicon cups and put mini salads in them: pasta, leafy greens
  • Prepare ahead of time: Have several (see-through) containers of precut and cooked veggies, corkscrew pasta, cut fruit, mini-meatballs
  • Good leftovers equal a good lunch so make more than you need for dinner. The point is to re-fashion it creatively
  • Definitely add a small treat (try Deb’s matcha mochi cupcakes below)
  • For me, there are almost no ‘no-no’s.

3. What’s the difference between an adult’s and a kid’s bento box?

Mainly the difference is volume. There are also differences in volume between bento boxes for men and women. Men’s boxes have an interior space that can contain about 30% more food. Also the types of food that go into the box could be heavier on protein and carbs for men, and more fried foods as well.

As far as presentation is concerned, it still has to be pleasing to the eye. The Japanese say “me de taberu” they eat with their eyes. The same care is given to a 5-year-old’s lunch as is to a 15 or 50-year- old. A bento box for an adult may be less cute, but it will still be attractive.

For more info and tips, please visit Deb’s site: Cookingatdebras.com

Happy bento “box-ing”!

~~~

Matcha Mochi Cupcakes

From My Japanese Table (Tuttle Publishing, 2011) by Debra Samuels

matcha cupcakes

“Thai sweet rice (glutinous) flour doesn’t work in this recipe. The best results are with Koda Farms Mochiko. I first learned about mochi cupcakes when a Boston friend who is married to a Japanese-American man. She got the recipe from her mother-in-law’s Buddhist Temple Community cookbook from Los Angeles. It has since been tweaked several times by other cooks.” ~ Debra

Makes about 16

3 cups (one 1-pound box) Koda Farms Mochiko (sweet rice flour, available at Asian Markets and some Whole Foods Markets)
2 teaspoons baking powder
1/4 teaspoon salt
2 teaspoons matcha (green tea powder)
3/4 cup canola oil
1 cup sugar
3 eggs
1 1/2 cups milk
1 can (15 ounces) sweet adzuki beans (optional)

Set the oven at 375 degrees F. Line a muffin tin with paper or foil cups.

In a bowl, combine the rice flour, baking powder, salt, and green tea. Whisk well.

In another larger bowl, mix the oil and sugar. Add the eggs and milk and whisk vigorously.
Add the rice flour mixture and mix with a rubber spatula until completely blended.

Fill the cupcake papers half full with the batter. Add a scant tablespoon of the adzuki beans. Spoon a little more batter over the beans. This should come just below the tops of the papers.

Bake the cupcakes for 20 to 25 minutes or until they begin to crack. Set on a wire rack to cool.

Black Sesame Soba Noodles

soba

Soba, made from buckwheat flour, is prettily packed in bundles about 8 to a package. Note that many sobas are also made with wheat flour so it isn’t a gluten-free food.  Juwari, the finest–and usually most expensive–soba is made entirely of buckwheat, but please please read the labels especially if you are allergic or intolerant to wheat!

Black Sesame Soba Noodles

{Adapted from 101cookbooks.com}

black sesame noodles3

This is turning out to be my go-to recipe for a simple summer lunch. It’s done in 15 minutes, even less if you make the sesame paste ahead and refrigerate. Top the noodles with whatever you have on hand—poached chicken, pan-fried tofu, pickles, your options are only limited to what you have in your fridge!

Makes: 4 servings
Time: 15 minutes

1/2 cup toasted black sesame seeds
2-1/2 tablespoons rice vinegar
1-1/2 tablespoons soy sauce
1 tablespoon sesame oil
1-1/2 teaspoon mirin or dry sherry
1 tablespoon sugar
Pinch of chili pepper flakes or cayenne
12 ounces soba (3 bundles)
1 small cucumber, shredded
1 small carrot, shredded

Grind the sesame seeds with a mortar and pestle, or in a small food processor, until it resembles coarse black sand.

Stir in the rice vinegar, soy sauce, sesame oil, mirin, sugar, and chili flakes and mix until a smooth paste forms. Taste and adjust accordingly.

Cook the soba according to package directions, reserving 1/3 cup of the cooking water. Rinse the noodles with cold water and drain.

Thin the sesame paste with the cooking water and toss with the noodles. Garnish with cucumber and carrot and slurp up! This dish is tasty eaten at room temperature or chilled first.

~~~

Tea and Marriage, Separation and Fried Chicken

Tea and poetry–what a beautiful marriage!

“With a smile and the warmth of

… a cup of tea, you caught me”

In black ink scrawled across college ruled paper, these simple words are strung together like precious pearls gracing a debutante’s soft neck. They offer a fleeting taste of the entire pie–a heartfelt poem of several stanzas that arrived in the mail, charged with the emotion of separation, the faint scent of a faraway place lingering between the lines.

Tea, like grey Seattle skies and the inconsistency of constancy, has always been a part of our lives. My husband claims he fell in love with me when I served him a cup of tea at my brother’s house all those years ago. We gave away sachets of jasmine tea at our wedding. And on many a cold, wintry evening, when the chill seeped deep into our bones, we’d share a hot pot of tea to thaw ourselves out.

On this day, my husband and I celebrate 10 years of marriage. Our hearts proudly bear the battle scars.

As newlyweds in England, I, lonesome and failing miserably at being a wife in a foreign land, fled home to Singapore to seek comfort under my mother’s wing and the familial company of old friends. He thought I was never coming back. I did.

Then came the arrival of a child we waited five heartbreaking years for. Silly us. We had absolutely no clue what we were in for. The sleep deprivation. A super-fussy baby whose wails could rival the queen of the banshees. To “cry it out” or not to “cry it out.” Did I mention the sleep deprivation? That baby is now a beautiful toddler, and a beacon who shows us the way and reminds us why we’re journeying.

Over the years, oh, how the seams of our relationship have heaved and ho’ed under the strain of having a spouse who’s just as obligated to his country as he is to his family. One transatlantic move, three cross-country moves (and counting), and two run-ins with the USCIS later, like rock that’s weathered by wind and rain, we’ve been through rough times but we’re not broken. We’re just transformed.

We’ve come a long way, but the journey is not yet over.

Sadly, at this milestone, we’re separated by 11-1/2 hours, 6,720 miles, 2 continents, and a damn war that won’t go away.

So here I am, raising my cup of tea to a decade of married life, with a plateful of mochiko chicken on the table and an Omar-shaped hole in my heart.

~~~

Mochiko Fried Chicken

mochiko chicken_edit3
One of my husband’s favorites, mochiko fried chicken, with mixed grains and burgundy tomatoes

My husband eats just about everything I cook but his eyes light up and he gushes every time I make mochiko chicken. This is one recipe from my cookbook that he didn’t mind me testing over and over and over again. I can almost guarantee that it’ll be one of his first requests for a home-cooked meal when he returns from his year-long deployment. In his honor, I’m sharing it with you today so you can share it with your loved ones near and far.

I made this dish my own by using tapioca starch (Southeast Asian cooks prefer this to cornstarch) which I think gives the chicken a crispier edge and nira (Japanese chives) instead of green onions.

Seek out Koda Farms Blue Star brand of mochiko, flour made from Japanese sweet rice (which is similar to glutinous rice) in the Asian aisle of many supermarkets.

Time: 45 minutes, plus marinating
Makes: 4 to 6 servings as part of a multicourse family-style meal

2-1/2 to 3 pounds bone-in chicken thighs
2 eggs, lightly beaten
1/4 cup soy sauce
1/4 cup mochiko
1/4 cup tapioca starch (or cornstarch)
1/4 cup sugar
Small bunch nira (or green onions), chopped (1/4 cup)
2 cloves garlic, minced
Vegetable oil for shallow frying

Debone the chicken, and reserve the bones to make stock. Cut the meat into 2-inch chunks.

In a large bowl, mix together the eggs, soy sauce, mochiko, tapioca starch, sugar, nira, and garlic. Tumble in the chicken and toss to coat evenly. Cover and marinate in the refrigerator for at least 4 hours, or preferably 12 hours.

Bring the chicken to room temperature before frying.

Line a plate with paper towels. In a large heavy skillet, heat about 1 inch of oil over high heat until it becomes runny and starts to shimmer. Reduce the heat to medium. Using tongs or cooking chopsticks, carefully lower thickly coated chicken pieces one at a time into the oil. You are shallow-frying, so the pieces will only be half submerged. Fry in a batch of 7 to 8 pieces (don’t overcrowd the pan) until both sides are crispy and evenly golden brown, 2 to 3 minutes on each side.

Remove the chicken with a slotted spoon, shaking off excess oil, and drain on paper towels. Use a slotted spoon or a wire mesh strainer to remove any debris from the oil and repeat until all the chicken is cooked.

Serve hot with freshly steamed short-grain rice, or cold as an appetizer or picnic food.

Mushroom Mania

One cannot complain about living on the gorgeous Monterey Peninsula along the California coast just blocks from the water. Yes, I have a view of the bay from my kitchen’s picture window but please allow me this one gripe — moving from Seattle has deprived me of the plethora of fabulous Asian restaurants and the bounty of Asian produce and products.

So you can’t blame a gal when she gawks openmouthed and almost trips over her own two feet upon stepping into the Mecca of Japanese and miscellaneous Asian food called Mitsuwa Marketplace  in San Jose. (The San Jose/Sunnyvale/Silicon Valley area is about an hour 15 minutes north of here). Trust me, I was like a bee buzzing about fastiduously in a wildflower meadow.

After picking up some powdered matcha, kuri dorayaki (chestnut-filled pancakes) and Tamaki haigamai rice, I came across these cute little button-like shimeji in the produce section.

I must admit I was a little wary because the mushrooms were packed in plastic and they were imported from Japan but I just couldn’t resist the mushroom cartoon (see below) beckoning to me, “Buy me, buy me!”

buna-shimeiji

Isn’t it so cuuute?

In the end, I succumbed, burdenened with guilt that I had substantially upped my carbon footprint and food miles, and bought two kinds of mushrooms: buna-shimeji, also known as the brown beech or brown clamshell mushroom, and bunapi-shimeji, white beech or white clamshell.

 

When I got home, I typed the Web site address http://www.hokto-kinoko.co.jp into my internet browser to find out more about the company that produces and exports the shimeiji. With each sentence I read, I breathed a little easier. They use environment-friendly Polypropylene film for their packaging and 100 percent organic culture mediacorncob meal (pulverized cobs of non-genetically-modified corn) and rice bran.

white_mushrooms by you.

 

Edible mushrooms native to East Asia, shimeji is rich in umami, i.e. the fifth taste. Buna-shimeji has a somewhat bitter taste which develops into a nutty flavor when cooked. The cooked mushroom has a pleasant, firm, slightly crunchy texture and is excellent in stir-fries, and sauteed with seafood. Or toss it into soups, stews and sauces. On its own, shimeji tastes lovely topped with a dab of butter and slow-roasted in the oven.

As I had a ready supply of pea shoots in my fridge, I made a pea shoot and buna-shimeji stir-fry.

 

Wok-Fried Mushrooms and Pea Shoots

mushrooms_and_doumiao by you.

Pea shoots, sometimes called pea vines are available at farmers markets and Asian markets (under the name dou miao), they should include a top pair of small leaves (the tip), delicate tendrils attached to the young stem, and a few larger leaves or blossoms. Select bright green, undamaged shoots.

Time: 10 minutes

Makes: 4 servings as part of a multicourse family-style meal

 

1 pound pea shoots, rinsed and drained well

7 ounces buna-shimeji or bunapi-shimeji mushrooms

2 tablespoons vegetable oil

3 cloves garlic, minced (1 tablespoon)

1/4 cup chicken stock or water

2 teaspoons soy sauce or fish sauce

Sesame oil for drizzling (optional)

Trim the pea shoots and remove any tough stems. Break up the cluster of mushrooms to release the individual mushroomettes.

Preheat a large wok or skillet over medium heat. Swirl in the oil and heat until it becomes runny and starts to shimmer. Add the garlic and cook until fragrant, 15 to 30 seconds.

Raise the heat to high, throw in the pea shoots and toss to coat evenly with the oil and garlic for until the leaves are just wilted, 1 to 1 1/2 minutes. Add the mushrooms, stock and soy sauce and toss until the liquid has reduced to a few tablespoons and the shoots are tender and bright green, another 1 to 2 minutes. Drizzle with sesame oil and serve immediately with freshly steamed rice.

Pat’s Notes: Pea shoots are often confused with pea sprouts, the whole baby pea plant. However, shoots and sprouts can be used interchangeably. Just vary the cooking time.

 

As grandma always says, please share!

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Washing Rice/part deux

In response to my previous post, Marisha asked, “What is the effect of washing rice (besides cleaning it from dust)?” and “Do you know something about it from Japanese tradition?”

I have posed this question to several people from different ethnic backgrounds and it turns out that every answer is almost identical. In developing countries and in times past, rice was adulterated and contained dust, talc, bugs and other impurities that the act of washing removed. This habit has somehow stayed with us even in modern times and even though the FDA ensures that the rice we buy in the U.S. is perfectly safe to consume without repeated washing.

As it so happens, I was reading Linda Furiya’s latest book How to Cook a Dragon: Living, Loving, and Eating in China (Seal Press, January 1, 2009). It’s a candidly told food memoir detailing her years living abroad as an expat in China, punctuated with food and cooking of course,  as well as a tale of self-discovery. In one chapter, she vividly describes the soothing experience of watching her mom wash rice.

So to answer Marisha’s second question, I asked Linda if she remembers any Japanese rice traditions when she was growing up. Linda told me that her mom grew up in pre-World War II Japan eating brown rice, which was associated with poverty. Not surprisingly, Linda didn’t eat brown rice growing up and had her first taste in her 20’s.

Both her parents always washed their rice before cooking it. “I remember my dad took pride in washing the rice and having the water in the bowl run clear before my mom!” she says with a laugh.

Here is an excerpt from Linda’s book available from Amazon.com.

howtocookadragon_web

Mom decided to make ochazuke (rice soaked with tea) for supper for the two of us. It was one of my favorite childhood comfort foods-homey, simple, and uniquely Japanese. She used to make it at times like these, evenings when Dad took Keven and Alvin to a baseball game, or after my older brothers moved out and my mom and I were often alone at dinnertime.

I watched silently as she rinsed the rice. I took comfort in the familiarity of her movements, as I had watched her go through this ritual hundreds of times before. She swirled the rice with her hand in a whirlpool motion, producing a pleasant swish sound as the grains hit the rice cooker’s metal bowl. I could have gone off somewhere in the house and done something else, but there was an unsettled feeling between us that I hoped we could resolve.

As she set up the rice cooker, Mom asked me to get the tall canister of green tea from the cabinet. I saw containers there that I hadn’t seen in years. There were Howard Johnson and Holiday Inn plastic ice buckets holding open sacks of confectioner’s sugar, brown sugar, and gravy flour. In the drawers were ashtrays used to store rubber bands and twist ties. As survivors of the Depression, and having experienced great loss in their lives, my parents kept and recycled everything. My mother always surprised me by wearing my old clothes that I had long forgotten, including the sweater she’d had on when I arrived for this visit.

We had some time before the rice would be done, so we went into the living room with our cups of hot tea. Usually Mom turned on the television to watch CNN, but she didn’t reach for the remote control. Instead she pulled a package of osembe (rice crackers) from the bottom shelf of her china cabinet. Each golden-brown disk, shiny with a soy sauce glaze, was individually wrapped to retain its freshness. The crackers were mouthwatering and crunchy, delicious with the green tea. We munched in silence.

Excerpted from How To Cook a Dragon: Living, Loving, and Eating in China, by Linda Furiya. Excerpted by arrangement with Seal Press, a member of the Perseus Books Group. Copyright (c) (2009)

Linda’s Recipe for Ochazuke

ochazuke1

Ochazuke means “tea and pickles,” but as long as you include the bonito flakes, rice crackers, nori, and pickles, you’ll create the essential seasoning base. The Japanese tea is a key ingredient, not an option. Linda prefers hoji-cha or genmaicha. If you want to make more of a meal, you can add cooked egg, scrambled with a drop or two of soy sauce and mirin (seasoned rice wine).

Time: 15 minutes
Makes: 4 servings

4 cups cooked rice (fresh or leftover)
6 cups hot green tea
1/4 cup bonito flakes
1/2 cup arare (rice cracker pellets) or crumbled rice crackers
1/2 cup nori (cut into 2 x 1/4-inch strips or purchased preshredded)
4 pickled plums
1/4 cup chopped takuen (pickled daikon)
1/4 cup chopped green onions
1/4 cup toasted sesame seeds
2 cups bean sprouts
Wasabi to taste
Leftover salmon (cut into small bits) or beef (sliced thin)

Divide the cooked rice among 4 bowls. Arrange the assortment of toppings in individual bowls. Create your own flavors by adding the toppings and seasonings to your liking. Pour hot tea over rice and toppings, enough to cover the rice. Allow the rice and tea to sit for about a minute so that the flavors will meld (and will warm up the rice if it has been refrigerated).

Pat’s notes:

I used furikake, a Japanese condiment typically comprising sesame seeds, seaweed, sugar, salt. Look for a brand that doesn’t contain monosodium glutamate.

furikake

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

As grandma always says, please share!

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The Ritual of Rice

pouring_rice by you.

Jasmine rice is the staple of my childhood 

As a little girl, one of my very first tasks in the kitchen was cooking rice.

Imitating my mum’s every move, I’d scoop 4 cups of rice into the steel rice bowl–purists may balk but when I was growing up, rice always came out of a rice cooker ringed in pink peonies–and place it in the sink. A couple of turns of the tap and whoosh, a steady stream of cold water rushed into the bowl. When the water reached halfway up the bowl, my tiny fingers swished and sloshed the rice grains until the crystal clear water graduated to cloudy white. Then I’d tilt the bowl over the sink to drain the water out, cupping my free hand along the container’s edge to prevent rice from falling out. After I repeated this procedure three or four more times, the water would run clear and only then was I done.

You would think that the measuring lines inside the rice bowl were there for a reason. Well, I guess my mum didn’t trust them. Following her lead, I’d stick my index finger into the bowl, its tip barely touching the surface of the rice, and fill the bowl with water until it reached the first joint of my finger. Once the lid of the rice cooker snapped shut, I’d wait about 20 minutes before opening it again to fragrant, perfectly steamed rice.

For many of us, rice washing is a ritual. It dates back to the good old days when it was essential to remove bits of debris, rice hulls, and, yes, bugs. Plus, rice used to be coated with talc and washing removed most traces of the powder. Some also believe that washing breaks down the starchy surface producing shiny, pearly grains of rice that is the fluffiest and tastiest when cooked.

I think it all boils down to the simple matter of preference.

As an adult, I’ve gotten somewhat lax in my rice washing regimen, only washing my rice once or twice. (My excuse, and it’s a good one: Since the U.S. Food and Drug Administration mandate that all milled white rice be fortified with an enrichment coating, I don’t wash away all the good stuff!) While I may have reneged on this one little detail, I’ve learned another valuable lesson.

Traditional Japanese cooking relies heavily on quality ingredients and water is no exception. Japanese culinary instructor Hiroko Sugiyama uses only pure spring water to make her rice and dashi because she believes any ‘off’ odors or tastes in tap water will be transferred to the final dish. She follows this credo not just for special occasions but for everyday consumption. Several times a month, she makes the 30-mile trek to a wellspring that’s certified pure by the city of Lynnwood in Washington State, bringing home 10 two-gallon containers.

Not all of us are as fortunate to have a free, ready source of spring water, or are willing to go to such great lengths to obtain some. But there’s no harm in seeking out the best quality ingredients you can find, be it water or other foods. I’ve found that even just using Brita-filtered water improves the taste of my rice. It’s even more noticeable where I now live because of the hard, nasty-tasting water that comes straight from the tap.

hagamai5 by you.

Beige-colored, translucent haiga mai grains. Can you spot the brown germ at the tip of each rice kernel?

Hiroko also introduced me to haiga mai (which means “rice germ”), a specially milled Japanese short grain rice. This process removes all the bran from the rice kernel while retaining the nutrient laden rice germ rich in Vitamins E, B1 B2 and B6. Hence it’s just as nutritious and full of fiber as brown rice but is easier to chew and very tasty.

To introduce more fiber into our diets, I’ve always cooked half-and-half rice (half white and half brown). But it wasn’t always welcome on the dining table. With haiga mai, even my husband digs in with relish!  Cook it as you would white rice or use Hiroko’s clay pot method below. Tamaki, a brand from California, is Hiroko’s preferred brand.

Haiga mai may be padi fields away from the jasmine rice of my childhood–and much pricier– but just as my cooking has evolved, so have my rice-eating habits.

 What about you? Do you wash your rice? Do you care? What’s your favorite type/brand of rice? Do write a comment and we can compare.  

Japanese Rice Cooked in Clay Pot (Gohan)

perfect gohan by you.


Whenever Hiroko craves for rice with a slightly burned bottom (okoge), she uses a donabe or Japanese clay pot. This basic recipe is so easy. Unfortunately, once the rice cooker was introduced, most Japanese no longer cooked rice in this traditional manner. If you don’t have a donabe, cook the rice in a rice cooker using the same proportions. Do not use this method to cook rice in a regular pot on the stove. I tried and the bottom of my pot still bears the scars!

Time: 30 minutes
Makes: 4 to 6 servings

2 1/4 cups Japanese short grain rice
2 and slightly less than 2/3 cups spring or filtered water
Japanese clay pot (donabe)

In a large bowl, wash the rice in 3 to 4 changes of water until the water runs clear. Drain the rice in a colander for 1 hour.

Put the rice and water in a clay pot and cover tightly with the lid. Set the pot on the stove over high heat. As soon as you see steam escaping from the hole in the lid, set your timer for 3 minutes (don’t reduce the heat). When the time is up, remove the pot from the stove.

Let the rice stand for 5 to 10 minutes. Lift off the lid carefully. Stir the rice gently with a Japanese rice paddle (shamoji) and transfer it to a wooden rice container (ohitsu) if you have one, or lay a cotton cloth (fukin) over the rice and cover with the lid.

 

As grandma always says, please share!

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