Browned crispy rice with Parmesan cheese おこげのパルメザンチーズ

japanese cake

Although automatic rice cookers made cooking rice very easy and consistently successful, one major drawback is not having the burned or browned crust that formed on the bottom of the pot or “okoge” おこげ. As a kid, I remember “okoge” was a good snack. My mother used to make rice in a traditional Japanese pot called “okama” お釜 with a heavy wooden lid when I was a little kid. After the rice is cooked, rice has to be transferred to a wooden vessel called “ohitsu” お櫃 (see the image) leaving a charred crust on the bottom of the pot. This crust is called “okoge” and it was nicely crunchy and flavorful. With just a small amount of miso, you could have the entire meal just eating “okoge”. 

This dish is trying to recreate this “okoge” with some Italian twists. I must have seen it in one of the many Japanese drinking food cook books that I have. I did not find or check the original recipe this time and I may have changed something but it is a simple preparation of leftover rice rather than a recipe.

I use leftover frozen rice (about one cup for two servings). I defrost it in a microwave oven so that rice grain can be separated but still cold. I add the rice and 1-2 tbs of chicken broth (my usual Swanson no-fat, low-sodium) to a small pan on a medium flame and mix them with a silicon spatula until the rice gets heated up and absorbs the broth and becomes somewhat sticky. Remove from the heat and place the rice in a metal bowl and let it cool down a bit. I then grate a good amount of Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese (about 3 tbs but the amount is arbitrary) and mix it in the rice.

Using a non-stick frying pan (on a medium flame), I add a very small amount of light olive oil (1/2 tsp) and add back the rice-cheese mixture. Using a silicon spatula, spread the rice mixture in a thin layer and brown (5-6 minutes on one side) and then flip over (either by siding it onto a plate and then transfering it back to the pan or just flipping it like a flapjack – remember “its all in your wrist!”).

I browned the other side for another 5 minutes. When desired brownness and crispiness are attained, take it out and break it into small manageable pieces. I served this as the last shime 締め dish with sautéed (in butter) broccoli rabe (pre-blanched) seasoned with salt and pepper, which sort of matches the Italian aspect of this dish. To me, I still like just simple “okoge” and miso better but this is close albeit a bit “oily”.

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