Chazuke with teriyaki salmon recipe

Posted on February 11, 2013

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Isn’t it funny how some dishes we eat have a bigger effect on us than others? For whatever reason, this relatively simple and homely dish of chazuke (steamed rice in green tea) with salmon flakes has stuck in my mind. I first tried this dish years ago at the much loved Japanese restaurant, Yu-U (137 Flinders Lane, Melbourne VIC), and ever since then I’ve been meaning to reproduce it, but somehow haven’t got around to it till now.

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One of the reasons being due to some resistance to try this dish at home, because apparently eating rice with what is usually regarded as a beverage (ie. the green tea acting as a broth) is too strange to comprehend. But while chazuke is a new concept to some, it’s an age old comfort food for the Japanese. It is very traditionally served with either steamed or grilled fish and very simple garnishes such as sliced spring onions and nori (dried seaweed). I love the simplicity of this, it’s so easy to make. Basically cook rice and fish, then pour a cup of freshly brewed green tea over the top. How’s that for a quick mid week dinner?! It’s a meal and drink in one. It was after some conviction that I managed to sway my housemate into trying chazuke and was finally able to fulfill my desire to make this dish at home.

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Japanese green teas such as sencha or bancha is usually used, but I decided to used genmaicha (Japanese green tea with roasted rice puffs) instead for my version. Given my guinea pig’s hesitation in letting green tea behave as a broth, I figured using genmaicha was a good compromise since that variety of tea already has a savory element to it. In the long forgotten past, genmaicha was a tea for the peasant class, where the roasted rice puffs acted as a filler ingredient to mix with more expensive green tea leaves. Stick to the more commonly used sencha or bancha leaves if you are after a more pure green tea taste in your dish. You will need to alter the below recipe’s water temperature and brewing time depending on the tea you use. Remember, green teas should be brewed at around 80°C and steeped for about 3 minutes (higher grades of green teas may require even lower temperatures). Genmaicha can take temperatures of about 90ºC and should be steeped for less than a minute. Tea bags are not suitable for this dish, you need the flavour from loose tea leaves.

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Also instead of using a plain pan fried salmon, I decided to use a teriyaki glaze to inject some flavour into an otherwise rather plain dish. It’s a very basic teriyaki marinade with no aromatics, just 1 part mirin to 1 part soy (half each of standard soy and dark soy). For garnish, slivers of spring onion and Japanese rice seasoning was used. The rice seasoning I used in the following recipe contained a mixture of bonito flakes, nori flakes and toasted sesame seeds. This can be purchased from select Asian grocers. If you can’t find any, nori flakes (dried seaweed flakes) and sesame seeds are fine.

RECIPE – Chazuke with teriyaki salmon (serves 2)

Ingredients:

  • 1 cup sushi rice (or other short grain rice), washed
  • 1 1/2 cups water
  • ~300g piece of fresh salmon
  • 1/2 tablespoon soy sauce
  • 1/2 tablespoon dark soy sauce
  • 1 tablespoon mirin
  • oil for cooking
  • slivers of spring onions and Japanese rice seasoning for garnishing

Genmaicha

  • 2 1/2 tablespoons genmaicha leaves
  • 400mL water

Method:

  1. In a small bowl, mix the 2 soy sauces and mirin together.
  2. Divide salmon into 2 equal pieces and coat with marinade mixture. Allow to marinade for ~10 minutes.
  3. Place washed rice and water into rice cooker to cook. If you do not have a rice cooker, place rice and water into a medium saucepan and bring to the boil. Once boiling, reduce to a low simmer and cook until all the water has been absorbed and the rice is tender.IMG_6022
  4. While the rice is cooking, using medium flame, heat oil on a non stick pan until just smoking. Place salmon in skin side down and cook until the skin is crisp (about 3 minutes). As there is sugar in the marinade (from the mirin), you will need to keep an eye on the fish to make sure it doesn’t burn. Flip over and cook until still slightly rare in the centre. The cooking time will vary depending on the size and thickness of your salmon.
  5. To prepare tea, boil water. Once boiled, wait ~10 seconds before pouring over tea leaves and steep for about half a minute.
  6. To assemble, scoop rice into a bowl and top with grilled salmon, slice spring onions and rice seasoning. Finally pour hot tea over the top. Serve immediately.IMG_6031IMG_6034

How perfectly homely is that? As comforting as a bowl of chicken noodle soup. And what did the guinea pig think of this dish? Well I can’t say this will become his favourite dish any time too soon since it lacks the prerequisite big flavours he so prefers. But in any case, he has finally conceded that green tea as a broth over rice can work. It may be petty, but I love being able to say ‘I told you so!’.

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