Since I started this blog, a key goal has been to show that Japanese cooking is much more than sushi. For that reason, I’ve mostly avoided sushi recipes – the only exception being Inarizushi. Now, after a long break, I’m breaking my initial promise once more.
Last time I went back to Japan and visited my grandmother in Kyushu, she made a traditional dish, Gomokuzushi, for our family reunion. Gomokuzushi is Gomoku (a mix of many ingredients) Sushi. It was so delicious I wanted to share the recipe with you.
Gomokuzushi is often served for a special occasions, such as birthday parties, family reunions and Hinamatsuri (Girls’ Day celebration). It is a perfect dish for a party because it looks gorgeous but you don’t need special ingredients, such as super fresh fish, so it’s not too expensive to make, and it’s easy to scale it up to feed many people. You wouldn’t want to bring sushi with raw fish to a potluck or a picnic, but Gomokuzushi is perfect for these sorts of occasions.
It’s is one of those dishes where the exact recipe will vary from family to family. The main ingredient in my grandma’s Gomokuzushi is chicken. The process seems complicated, but that’s just because I’m writing all the “insider tips” you need to get it just right in full detail. So don’t be afraid. Once you get the knack, it’s quite simple.
My grandma’s original recipe is just 4 lines!
Hello loyal readers! Sorry for disappearing but I’ve been really busy with my non-cooking life. I don’t want the blog to stay dormant forever, though, and my husband really wanted me to add this recipe for his new favorite way to eat chicken: minced!
When you think about it, it’s funny: ground beef and ground pork are common enough, but how often do you see ground chicken? Our local supermarket sure doesn’t sell it, so for this recipe, we mince it ourselves. It’s not the most pleasant of kitchen tasks, granted, but it’s not actually hard either…just chop some chicken thigh and breast meat into blocks and put it through a food processor. Takes a minute or two.
Torisoboro Gohan isn’t really a fancy dish, but it’s very flavorful and always seems to be a major hit when I’ve served it to Westerners. To make it really appealing, you want to pair it with brightly colored garnishings – usually green beens and silk-thread eggs – aiming for a tri-color effect at the end.
August is when ginger is at its best. At this time of year, prices are low and you can find the fresh, fragrant roots everywhere.
If you read this blog regularly, you already know that Japanese home cooking is seasonal cooking. So, at this time of year, we make lots of deeply ginger-perfumed recipes – in part because of an old folk belief that this root helps fight off the sluggishness and lethargy you get when the weather gets really hot.
Here’s a flavored rice that puts ginger to good use. This spicy and refreshing ginger-scented rice goes great alongside fish. Best yet, it’s very easy to make: you just add some sliced ginger and a little bit of simple sauce, and cook it as you would plain white rice.
Inari is sushi, but not as you know it. Variously called Inari, Oinari-san, or Inarizushi, it’s made by filling Abraage pockets with Sushi-rice. As I wrote some time ago, in Japan people don’t really make sushi at home very often (see: Fight the Sushi Monoculture), however Inari is the exception. This is not a fancy dish; it’s a popular food you make and eat at home.
The other day when I was talking with my mother on the phone, she told that she made Inari for dinner. This made me all nostalgic and I got inspired to make Inari, too.
Tradition says that the name inari came from a Japanese shinto divinity that is often associated with a fox. The favorite food of this sacred fox was Aburaage. Sacred foxes or no, historic documents show Inari was already a popular form of sushi in the mid-1800s.
As you know, I’m not a big fan of sushi. On an average day, making sushi is far too much work for the home cook to take on: you have to make the rice, flavor it with vinegar, then let it cool, then make each sushi shape by hand, plus you need several different types of fish for credible sushi. It’s expensive, it’s time consuming, who needs it?
But what if you have a craving for raw tuna, but don’t want to go to all the trouble to make sushi? In that case, try this maguro zuke-don recipe, a kind donburi (see also Oyako-don) made by placing sashimi (raw fish – in this case, tuna) over a bowl of normal white rice.
The great thing is that even very lean tuna – which doesn’t make for very good sushi – works quite well in Maguro zuke-don. The result is this easy, quick, and really satisfying dish.
Everyone knows rice is the cornerstone of the Japanese diet, but the stuff has one fatal flaw: there’s no way to eat it with your hands. Not, that is, unless you learn to make Onigiri, Japan’s original solution to the problem of how to render rice not just delicious, but portable and snackable too.
If you like manga or anime, you’ve certainly seen characters munching on these odd, triangular rice balls. Why manga characters are fixated with Onigiri I have no idea – maybe because within Manga’s conventions, onigiri work as a kind of code for “food” in general. (“Gohan” does, after all, mean both rice and meal!)
If you don’t like animation so much, you may never have seen them. But the next time you need to pack a lunch and want some rice in it, you’ll be glad you know how to make these.
I’m very much aware that non-Japanese people find plain white rice quite boring, so I’m always looking for quick little recipes that add some flavor to it. This one does that with sesame seeds and shiso leaves.
A few years ago, you would’ve had the hardest time finding the leaves, but suddenly Shiso leaves are all the rage in Western cooking, so finding these should be no problem for you.
In Japan, rice with store bought shiso-flavored furikake (“yukari”) is quite popular, but making shiso-gohan with fresh shiso leaves is much better, with a far more delicate taste. I often make shiso-gohan for guests, because this is the kind of flavor that makes you feel special.