Ochazuke is ultimately rice and green tea! It is a fantastic way to use up left over rice and is a really pretty and delicate dish where all the ingredients have their chance in the spotlight. Rice is such an important food source for Japanese people, and Nori’s family, who grow their own rice, take it pretty seriously. In fact, if a few grains are left in someone’s bowl, they call them ‘the tears of the farmer’ – no rice is wasted in our house! The left over rice is transformed into something special with a subtle broth of dashi, genmaicha and soy.
Genmaicha translates to ‘brown rice tea’ and is a green tea combined with roasted rice. It has a lovely nuttiness and compliments the dish really well. You can find Genmaicha in Japanese supermarkets, like Hinoki Japanese Pantry, in Fitzroy, which is our go-to for all Japanese items. If you are unable to find any, just use normal green tea! For the dashi stock, you can buy it already prepared in granule form or make some with bonito flakes, like we do. Whichever you choose, simply follow the directions on the packet.
Ochazuke is quite a traditional dish, quickly prepared in the home with left over rice and fish or just pickles or shiso flakes, and for this reason, it is not often seen on menus here in Australia. In Japan, however, restaurants and Izakayas do serve fancy versions with top quality produce and expensive fish. For me, this dish epitomizes Japanese cooking – good quality ingredients, simple preparation and clean flavours. We love to eat this dish during the week when we feel like something nourishing, but simple and easy.