October 22, 2004

fishy comfort food

Wednesday, October 20

Everyone probably has some sort of food they would go back to when they are sick or exhausted (physically or mentally), or just don't have much appetite. At least I do. And in my case, it is definitely rice. Plain cooked Japanese rice, or rice porrige when my stomach is being sensitive, with some small condiments.

Well, even when I am healthy and can eat a lot, I like to have some freshly-cooked rice for breakfast, with something - most of the time it is likely to be fish things. I am aware that people over here hardly ever eat fish for breakfast, and I don't even try to surprise or offend folks by eating fish for breakfast when I am with someone. It's something I keep it to myself

I have mentioned this numerous times here, but he doesn't eat fish or seafood. Never, as long as he can recognize it's there (well, he does it a bit when he thinks he should). So I rarely cook fish at home. What I eat with a breakfast bowl of rice is store-bought condiments, usually from Japan.

Yesterday I opened one of such products for breakfast, this time ochazuke. Ochazuke, literaly meaning "(soaked) in tea", refers to a dish of rice with some garnish (fish and/or pickles, seaweed, small rice puff, etc.) in a hot soup - sometimes it's green tea, sometimes dashi broth. It is a typical quick and easy, light dish in Japan. But this one with sea urchin, from an old and established shop in Tokyo was one of their specialty "luxury" line of ochazukes, or so they claim.

To be frank I hadn't really had so much expectations, but it turned out pretty good; dashi soup was tasty and the sea urchin was decent; I had never had sea urchin for breakfast before, even not pouch-packed semi-dried ones, but this one wasn't bad at all, specially when I don't have much access to traditional Japanese food products.

For today I had something else, fishy again. I got two kinds of chirimen-jako or seasoned dried baby sardines from another such establishment in Kyoto.

One was with tarako or cod roe and the other with seaweed and shiso - I opened the tarako one first.

I made the rice with tarako chirimen into a couple of small, 3-bite-sized onigiris or rice balls for a change; onigiris have something magical that makes the same rice taste better, or at least makes you think it tasting better, I guess. It's a silly thing, but it works for me.


Cat said...

mmm i lurrrve Japanese food! it seems so easy for you to get everything, id have to drive the 2.5hrs to Amsterdam to get anything remotely decent, you're lucky :)

Anonymous said...

Hi, i'm a new reader... i really like your blog.. the pictures are gorgeous and i love japanese food! I'm looking forward to seeing more delectable posts soon. =)

Reid said...

Hi Chika,

I've never had ochazuke with sea urchin, but I'm sure it was really least it looks good in the photos. A few days ago, I had ochazuke with just green tea, umeboshi and shiso. That really hit the spot. Sometimes it's nice to have something plain and simple for a change.

The musubi that you made looks good too! =) I can find those kinds of rice condiments at either Daiei or Shirokiya...haven't been able to find yuzu kosho yet though. =(

Anthony said...

I thought the fish for Japanese breakfast always seemed a bit sad. Pregnant shishamo (sp?) or some poor fish halved and flattened. That said salmon is always great for breakfast and I love wasabi salmon ochazuke.

I don't know what the secret of onigiri is biut you are right.

chika said...

Hello there,

Cat - but I am jealous you have an easy access to all the European goodies!! :P

someone - thanks for dropping by, I hope my latest post was soon and delectable enough :D

Reid - I had never had ochazuke with sea urchin, either! It's a bit unusual, for sure. Umeboshi & shiso ochazuke sounds absolutely divine to me, I very much appreciate something simple and good like that.

I can try and get a yuzu-kosho for you when I'm in Japan the next time, if you can wait till early next year?

Anthony - Pregnant shishamo! Halved and flattened fish!! I am so much used to seeing such a sight on my breakfast table, but they really are a bit pathetic, that's true...

salmon ochazuke is an all-time favorite of mine too :)

Estelle said...

I am continuouly amazed by how picky "he" is! Reminds me of "him" :) Don't you sometimes wish he would eat more variety? As far as I am concerned, I do!!!

chika said...

Hi Estelle,

I do, I do, but I can't complain much as he's been doing way better than he used to... just about a year and half ago, all he would eat was pizza (just sauce and extra cheese, nothing else), sandwich (turkey and cheese, no vegetable), breakfast cereal, and ice cream (okay, plus a selection of sweets). :P