Yakitori 焼き鳥 Part 5

japanese cake

Grilled Rice Ball 焼きおにぎり

Salted vegetables 浅漬け 

This is also our favorite to complete a yakitori meal. Mark’s book has a more elaborate version of this old favorite,

Grilled Rice Balls with Vegetable Miso (p148).

You can make this using a frying pan and/or in a toaster oven but you never get the crunchy surface you could get when it is grilled over a direct charcoal fire. I usually use  simple miso paste (white or red miso or a mixture of the two), mirin, add sugar, sesame oil or tahini if you so desire, and heat and mix well to reduce to the original consistency of miso). Of course, you could follow the recipe in the book to make Vegetable Miso. This time, I was too lazy to make the miso mixture and used a mixture of soy sauce and mirin (in equal parts) instead. Just brush it on the rice ball toward end of the cooking process. It will penetrate the surface and further caramelize (because of the sugar in the mirin). It makes a nice crunchy crust and adds flavors. My wife likes it extra crunchy and squeezes lemon over it as she eats it. One of the reasons I like this so much is that this reminds me of “okoge” おこげ  or burned rice in the bottom of a rice cooker when rice is made in the old fashioned way rather than with an electric rice cooker. As a kid, I liked to munch on “okoge” with a bit of miso. My wife likes it because “what is not to like about crunchy on the outside soft and piping hot on the inside”.

The small vegetable dish on the side goes well with grilled rice balls or any rice dishes, for that matter. We made a simple  “asazuke“.  We cut up cucumber, carrot, Nappa cabbage (“hakusai” 白菜) or regular cabbage, diakon, myoga, radish or whatever vegetables are available.  They can be whatever size you like but not too small or too thin so as to give some texture. I add thinly sliced Jalapeno pepper (seeded and deveined), lime slices, finely minced ginger, red pepper flakes, and/or hydrated thinly sliced kelp (“konbu” 昆布). I add enough salt to sparsely coat the veggies ( I never measure) and mixed well by hand. Place it in a Japanse pickling pot. This can be bought at Amazon or simply use a bowl with a plate which can fit inside and weigh it down with whatever is heavy enough (such as a large unopened jar of pickles). In, at least, 4-5 hours or overnight, a surprising amount of water comes out over the vegetables. Move the vegetables in a plastic container and into a refrigerator. This will last at least several days. Use of Jalapeno pepper and lime is our modification of the basic recipe but works well.

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