After the culinary revels of the holiday season, it’s nice to settle into the homey comfort of chazuke, a traditional Japanese dish, made by pouring usually green tea over cooked rice topped with any leftover nubbins of chicken, seafood or vegetables lurking in the refrigerator.
Whether my version is traditional or not, it is warming and elemental. Spiked with fresh gingerroot and enriched by a thin drizzle of toasted sesame oil, leftover steamed rice served in a nice rustic ceramic tea bowl takes on new character when bathed in the bottom inch or two of properly brewed sencha. Accentuating the marine quality of the tea, I like to use bits of leftover roasted or broiled salmon and add an earthy note with a few fingersful of enoki or other mushrooms, thinly sliced. A few drops of soy sauce amps up the umami.
Here’s a non-recipe to give you an approximation of how I do it. But feel free to improvise to accommodate whatever bits of cooked protein are in your refrigerator and raid the pantry too for any dried seaweed. Sprinkled with shichimi togarashi, a mix of pepper and sesame seeds, is a fixture on my kitchen table, always at the ready to add to any dish which needs a bit of oomph, my own personal chazuke might stray from the original but it is delicious nonetheless. Let me know how you riff on the standard concoction.
Serves 2 as lunch. a first course or a midnight snack
8 ounces of cooked white rice, hot
4 ounces leftover cooked chicken, skin and bones removed, broiled salmon, skin removed, cut or broken up into bite-size pieces
Dried seaweed sheets broken into bits or thinly sliced, as you wish
2 c. hot, well-brewed Japanese green tea
Soy sauce, to taste
Toasted sesame oil, to taste
Salt, pepper and shichimi togarashi, as desired
Place the rice into the bowl of your choice. (I always like to heat the bowls I am using by pouring boiling water into them a few minutes before serving; empty and then proceed.) Scatter the chicken or fish over the rice. Pour the hot tea over all in the bowl. Scatter the sea weed over the top of the liquid. Season with soy, sesame oil, salt, pepper and shichimi togarashi, as desired. To extend the pleasure, add more hot tea as you consume what’s in the bowl.