Ochazuke (お茶漬け) literally means “soaked in tea” and is a traditional Japanese breakfast food that’s somewhere between a soup and a porridge. Unlike most porridge the rice isn’t cooked in a liquid. Instead, it’s heated by pouring boiling water over it and then draining off the starchy water to ensure the tea stays clear when it’s added.
While there are a lot of toppings that can be used such as konbu, pickled umė or pollack roe, the idea is to use something salty and flavorful, so that the tea is able to make a broth by drawing flavor from the toppings. For the tea, I like using genmai-cha (roasted brown rice green tea) because of the toasty flavor the rice imbues, but a standard sen-cha (green tea) or even hojicha (roasted tea), will work fine. It’s worth noting that there are some versions of this dish that use a dashi broth instead of tea, but I’ve always found this a little odd since it contradicts the name of the dish.
This sake chazuke is one of the simplest and tastiest incarnations of this dish, using nothing more than some grilled salmon and some fresh herbs. The tea draws flavor from the cured fish, making a light broth that seasons the rice. If you make the salmon ahead of time and use leftover rice, it comes together in less than five minutes making it a marvelous way to start the day with an easy warm breakfast.
Ochazuke (Japanese Tea Rice)
- 11 ounces (300 grams) salmon
- 1/2 tablespoon salt
- 2 cups cooked sushi rice
- herbs (such as mitsuba, shiso or scallions)
- meyer lemon zest
- 1 pot green tea
- Sprinkle the salt evenly over all surfaces of the salmon, and let it cure overnight in the refrigerator.
- The next day, grill the salmon on a wire rack under the broiler until cooked through. Break the salmon up into bite-size pieces, removing and discarding any skin and bone.
- Prepare the rice by adding it to a large bowl and pouring boiling water over it. Stir to break up any clumps, and then strain the rice, discarding the water.
- Portion the rice into two bowls and top with the salmon, herbs and lemon zest.
- Brew the tea, and pour it over the rice. Stir together and eat with Japanese pickles.
Yield: 2 bowls
Marc Matsumoto is a culinary consultant and recipe repairman who shares his passion for good food through his website norecipes.com. For Marc, food is a life long journey of exploration, discovery and experimentation and he shares his escapades through his blog in the hopes that he inspires others to find their own culinary adventures. Marc’s been featured in the New York Times, Wall Street Journal, and USA Today, and has made multiple appearances on NPR and the Food Network.