Ochazuke is a Japanese dish consisting of rice topped off with green tea and a variety of ingredients. It is a simple description for such a satisfying and comforting bowl of food. When you hear people talk about ochazuke, their memories can range from parents making it as an after school snack to a needed fix after a late night out. Which makes sense because ochazuke can come together quickly, using leftovers and things you have (or should have) in your pantry. It’s a canvas for a lot of different flavors to come together so you can mix and match and always walk away happy.

There are a few common building blocks in the different versions of ochazuke.

  • Rice - Leftover sushi rice.

  • Green Tea - Usually Houjicha, Sencha, or Genmaicha

  • Main topping - Salmon, Umeboshi (pickled plums), or Sashimi

  • Additional toppings can include roe, rice crackers, strips of nori, wasabi, soy sauce.

For this bowl of ochazuke, I chose to use Genmaicha and play off the flavor of the toasted rice in the tea. I added some leftover salmon, Toasted Sesame Seeds, Shichimi Togarashi for even more nutty sesame flavor and some heat, Nori, and sliced scallions.
Rice crackers can be crushed and sprinkled on top for some added texture. I did not have rice crackers but I did have puffed rice (a common ingredient in some Indian snack foods) so I added those on top for crunch and again to carry over the flavors of the Genmaicha.

Brew a strong cup of whichever green tea you choose. I doubled up the amount of tea, using 2 tsps for 8 ounces of water.

And that’s it. Build you bowl while you wait for your tea to steep. Then pour the hot tea over your bowl.

So deceptively simple! The toasted flavor of the Genmaicha comes through like a broth that has been simmered for hours. The vegetal, green flavor helps cut through the oily salmon. Layers of texture, a nice amount of salt and heat. It hits every flavor component. Of course, if you don’t have leftover rice on hand, you would have to make it and if you don’t have pickled plums, you will have to go get them. But knowing how easy this can come together, doesn’t it make you want to stock up your pantry and fridge?

I loved this flavor combination. But for my next ochazuke, I’ll add roe and maybe a dash of soy sauce. And then the next one, use Houjicha instead and pickled vegetables. And the one after that, umeboshi instead of salmon. And the one after that…

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