Seasoned rice and sake lees marinated cucumber 炊き込みご飯,胡瓜の粕漬け

japanese cake
One evening, I made a short Japanese course dinner for a visiting friend. Among the dishes we served, I made a type of seasoned rice which I served with grilled salmon. I posted a similar dish previously (scattered sushi cooked in Donabe). In this version, the ingredients that went into the rice was not pre-cooked. The next day, we had the rice that was left over from the dinner for lunch. I served it with my sake lees cured cucumber and garlic chives, tofu and egg clear soup.

For this seasoned rice or “Takikomi gohan” 炊き込みご飯, I used burdock root ごぼう, carrot 人参,  shiitake mushroom 椎茸and hijiki seaweed ひじき. I could have added more items such as abura-age 油揚げ and proteins such as chicken but I restrained myself.

When I made sake lees marinade, I mostly marinated fish but I also tried cucumber called cucumber kasu-zuke 胡瓜の粕漬け . This is my truncated version.

Since we have new tender garlic chives coming up in our herb garden, I made this classic clear soup with garlic chives, silken tofu and egg.

1. Seasoned rice (Takikomi-gohan) 4-6 servings:

Ingredients:

Rice, 2 cups (by the small 180ml cup came with the rice cooker), washed, and drained.

Shiitake mushroom, dry, 4, hydrated by soaking in warm water for 2-3 hours,  moisture squeezed out and sliced into small strips. I reserved the soaking liquid.

Burdock root, 1/3, skin scraped off with the back of the knife, thinly sliced on the bias, cut into fine strips, immediately soaked in acidulated water (I used a splash of rice vinegar) for 10-15 minutes, washed and drained.

Carrot: 1 medium, peeled, sliced on the bias and then cut into thin strips.

Hijiki: I soaked dry hijiki in plenty of water. Washed them and changed the water a few time until they were hydrated (20-30 minutes). I drained and washed and set aside.

I placed washed and drained rice in the rice cooker and added the shiitake soaking liquid (through a fine meshed strainer). I added mirin (1tbs), sake (1tbs) and light colored soy sauce (1 tbs). I could have added salt but I did not since I could always add more salt after it was cooked. I added water to make the specified amount required (in this case, the water level mark “2”). I then added the vegetables into the rice. I turned on the rice cooker.

After the rice was cooked, I let it steep for 10-15 minutes. Using a rice paddle, I mixed the cooked rice and served. 

2. Cucumber kasu-zuke:

The formal way of making this dish, requires making salted cucumber or “shiozuke”. I took a short cut. I coated the surface of the cucumber with Kosher salt and placed them in a Ziploc bag and let it sit in the refrigerator for several days.

Ingredients:

Cucumbers, I used American mini-cucumber but Japanese cucumber would be the best, washed, I used the short cut method described above and let it stand in the refrigerator for several days.  The cucumbers look shriveled and the bag had a quite a good amount of exuded water. 

Kasu-doko,   This is the same one I used when I made “cod kasuzuke“. I just placed the salted cucumbers into the kazu-doko. I dug it out after 3 weeks (below).

I removed the sake lees and washed.

The rice was quite good but my wife added a pat of butter. She thought the butter made it it much better. The cucumber was not like real kasuzuke but it had rather strong sake lees flavor and was qualified success.

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