Ochazuke a warming, classic Japanese dish which can be made easily using leftovers or ingredients found in your cupboard. It’s perfect for all those in a bind; a fast, healthy snack for a student short on time (and cash), a salaryman returning home late or a weary traveller suffering from jet lag -or all of the above!
It is possible to buy instant ochazuke packets, containing rice crackers, seaweed and other salty seasonings. They use a tea powder, which in no way compares to the rich flavour of real, loose-leaf green tea. Also due to their MSG content, the instant version might not be suitable for everyday consumption. Besides, ochazuke is quick and easy enough to make without too much strain, and without the MSG.
The tea used in this recipe is genmaicha, tea with roasted grains of brown rice. This tea can be found with or without added matcha, powdered green tea. Since it adds a vibrant green colour, genmaicha with matcha is recommended. The rice gives the tea a slightly nutty flavour, similar to hazelnuts. Genmaicha is extremely popular in Japan and can be found anywhere, particularly in cheaper sushi bars, with hot water taps placed alongside the rotating dishes of maki-zushi and sashimi.
Feel free to adapt this recipe to your liking. It can be recreated with a variety of toppings, this is by no means the definitive version – if such a thing exists. Ochazuke dates back to the Heian period, where water was traditionally poured over rice. Using tea became popular during the Edo period, as more varieties of tea were being developed. Toppings have always varied, ranging from pickled vegetables, such as umeboshi salted plum, furikake or dried rice seasoning, as well as different kinds of fish. If you’re feeling adventurous and have access to speciality ingredients, you could try using tarako or mentaiko (pollock roe) to add a spicy kick. For vegetarian/vegan options include tofu or steamed vegetables, with the benefit of added nutrients. Soy sauce and wasabi can also be added to enhance flavour.
Cooked rice is always handy, as a base for curries, a stir-fry or even natto. Cooked rice can be kept frozen to microwave or reheat when needed.
Note: Use cooled rice with iced green tea for a refreshing, summer alternative.
Prep time : 5 mins
- 1 bowl cooked rice
- choice of topping: baked/tinned fish (i.e. salmon), tarako/mentaiko, tofu/steamed vegetables
- 1 cup genmaicha
- shredded nori seaweed (cut into thin strips using clean, sharp kitchen scissors)
- furikake/arare/crushed rice crackers*
- sesame seeds*
- soy sauce*
*optional, to taste
Place rice in a small to medium-sized bowl and add choice of topping(s), followed by nori seaweed and any optional extras.
Make genmaicha. Check temperature and time of infusion for your genmaicha, usually 100degrees C for 1 min. Pour hot water into teapot and allow to steep for 1 minute.
Pour genmaicha over rice and toppings.