Today we learn about ochazuke, rice submerged in green tea and flavored with toppings. Though we’ve included some instructions on how to spice up these super convenient instant ochazuke packets, ochazuke is a true no-recipe recipe. At its simplest, this dish prevents food waste: a pour of green tea into one’s rice bowl ensures no grain goes untouched at the end of the meal. Being a food-focused people here at Bokksu, we couldn’t help but gussy up our ochazuke with some fun flavors and textures we had around the kitchen.
Sencha: Green Tea for Ochazuke
The phrase “green tea” in English refers to a confusingly wide range of tea varieties and preparations. Sencha is the green tea of choice for ochazuke: it’s the translucent green tea served hot or cold at many Japanese restaurants. For an earthier, toasted flavor, try hojicha (roasted green tea leaves) or mugicha (roasted barley tea). Peruse the selection of teas at Bokksu Market and get creative.
If you want a little extra umami, we recommend adding a pinch of instant dashi granules to your tea. Dashi is the simple, flavor-amplifying broth at the base of nearly every savory Japanese dish. (You can read more about dashi umami magic here!) If you don’t already have instant dashi stocked in your pantry, get thee to Bokksu Market stat. It’s a pantry staple for any busy at-home chef.
Instant Ochazuke: A Tiny, Easy, Quick Meal
Bokksu Market now offers several flavors of ochazuke, including the popular salmon and umeboshi (pickled plum). Each instant ochazuke packet contains dried instant green tea along with a confetti of toppings like nori, crispy rice puffs, dried scallions, dried shredded salmon, and sesame seeds.
Combine with plain white rice and a few ounces of boiling water for a flavorful bowl of ochazuke in seconds. If you should have some extra time and inspiration, we encourage you to experiment. Here’s what we came up with when we tried out the salmon instant ochazuke:
The beauty of instant ochazuke is that you really only need hot water and leftover rice. Once we had our bowls out, we couldn’t resist adding a few items we had around the kitchen for a really satisfying mini-meal. We encourage you to do some experiment with whatever is in your pantry. This is what we used—
Nagatanien Ochazuke Rice seasoning (salmon)
1/2 cup cooked Nishiki Premium Rice: Medium Grain
1-2 green onions
1/2 thumb fresh ginger
a pinch of dashi powder
a dash of wasabi
And for some extra crunch:
Start with Rice
If using leftover rice, heat in microwave with a pinch or two of water to replenish moisture lost in condensation. If you are cooking fresh rice, start soaking immediately! Each serving calls for about 1/2 cup of rice.
How to Make Sticky Rice: A Quick Detour
The next two paragraphs are for the rice cooker newbies. Rice cookers are super convenient and reliable, but to make truly delicious rice, you need to rinse and soak it before you hit the START button! Run your uncooked rice under fresh water and stir with your hand. Drain and repeat until the water is no longer cloudy. For medium-grain white sticky rice like Nishiki Premium, you want a minimum of 30 minutes to soak, ideally 1 hour. If you are using brown rice, you’ll need to soak for longer to penetrate the grains. Two hours of soaking time is not excessive!
This may all seem boring, but excellent rice texture is essential to any good Japanese meal. If you’re new to using a rice cooker: measure rice using the special measuring cup that came with the cooker. It is actually a traditional measuring unit of 1-"go." With your rice already in the cooker, add in water until you hit the line that corresponds with the number of cups you are cooking.
Assembling your Deluxe Instant Ochazuke
Once you’ve cooked/ reheated your rice…
- Cook shrimp and cut into bite-sized pieces
- Grate fresh ginger and thinly slice green onions
- Bring approximately 2/3 cup water to a boil.
- Pour your ochazuke instant packet over about 1/2 cup of rice. We added a tiny pinch of dashi granules at this stage.
- Pour water into the bowl and stir until tea and dashi granules have dissolved.
- Add shrimp, ginger and green onion, and wasabi. Sprinkle in tenkasu and sesame seeds. You now have a healthy, hearty, delicious bowl of ochazuke. Itadakimasu! Enjoy!