O-cha-zuke… tea on rice.

Ochazuke, the Japanese tea soup.

Sarah from Simply Cooked was our November Daring Cooks’ hostess and she challenged us to create something truly unique in both taste and technique! Click here (later today) to see other challengers’ dishes and 3 recipes.

As you may know it, I already had a number of recipes with tea as an ingredient (don’t click on photos) :

click here for savory dishes with tea.
click here for sweets with tea.

That’s something people prepare quickly for a light dinner. Or after a long night of drinking, before letting the guests go back home, you feed them a hot bowl. There is a nasty story about it. People of Kyoto are said to be very well mannered, you know, so they avoid saying things directly and harshly. Hypocritical ? nah… Let’s say you are invited in their home, and after a while, they think you should leave, they won’t tell it. They will ask if you’d like to eat an ochazuke. And if you are polite, you say : “No, no, I am soooo sooooorry, but I have to leave now.”.

You need cooked rice (here genmai, brown rice) and stuff to garnish : sesame seeds, leaves of kikuna (chrysanthemum), ribbons of nori seaweed…

A small slice of salmon. It is salted, not smoked, not dry. We can buy it this way here. It can be kept longer than fresh but still needs refrigeration. No need to soak it, it’s not so salty. Just don’t add salt in the rest of the dish.
I grilled it under the broiler.

Tenkasu are crumbs of tempura.

Everything in the bowl…

Just pour hot Japanese green tea. This time I have a mix of sencha (green tea leaves) and matcha (green tea powder).

Oswego tea miso soup

Another Japanese classic ? No ! I found Oswego tea, AKA bee balm… and according to the label, that was bergamot. I found that in my balcony herb garden. That’s how I discovered that existed.
Of course, the grains were not brought by the birds nor the butterflies. The local flower shop was discounting all their herbs and I took one of each. I thought I had “bergamot mint” as I had another year.
Looking close, tasting… I found that was different and surely not citrus bergamot.

What is it ? More here.

…an aromatic herb in the family Lamiaceae, native to eastern North America from Maine west to Ohio and south to northern Georgia. Its name is derived from its odor, which is considered similar to that of the bergamot orange…Beebalm has a long history of use as a medicinal plant by many Native Americans, including the Blackfeet. The Blackfeet Indians…The name “Oswego tea” comes from the Oswego Indians who taught the immigrants how to use it for tea

Good, it’s not poisonous. I can cook and eat it !

Well that tastes, er, different, and not like bergamot. Tangy like rocket salad, maybe the closest thing is lemon balm. That’s original.

The soup is totally simple : carrot, miso.

And I had just cooked white daifuku-mame beans.

And this “tea”, in and on it.
I got a delicious and original meal soup.

A wind of Burma (via gourmande in Osaka

Last year, Shan Burmese cuisine…

Click here to read more.

Appetizers of tea leaves, then fried Shan tofu. That’s a nice week-end meal…

Click here to read more.

Le rouleau de printemps du jour : crevettes, estragon et matcha miso (shrimp, tarragon and green tea miso)

I know that looks weird, but that tasted really great. I’ll make it again.
It seems the soup series will be replaced by the fresh Spring rolls, AKA rouleau de printemps in my native dialect. I have a big pad of rice paper, maybe 500 pages, so you’ll see more in future.

Shrimps, boiled and refreshed on ice-cubes.

Negi leeks and tarragon.

With mungo bean sprouts, rolled inside rice paper.

Voila !

So that’s the UFO. It’s not water from Mars. I simply mixed chunky white miso, rice vinegar and matcha (green tea powder).

You could think the encounter of shrimp, negi, tarragon, miso and matcha is explosive in taste. Sure, it was. Like fireworks. Really pleasant.

Yuzu tofu, with kinome. I have a little tree with these leaves, I’ll show you soon. This pair was great too.

Another Spring fun meal, ready in a few minutes.

Midori okowa bento for flower time – Green tea rice lunchbox

Bento today. It’s a leisure lunch, a picnic for a park bench. I do it for the fun. For the pleasure of using nice boxes too.

I don’t live the lunchbox at work lifestyle. I don’t need to as most days, either I work at home or I can arrange my schedule to be back to eat.

Then, it’s inconvenient in a Japanese big city. There is no place to eat in business areas. No parks, you don’t have your own desk anywhere. In small towns, I have visited friends at their job, and all the staff stopped working for lunch break, so the office was turned into a dining room. No such thing in Osaka. That never stops, people take their break in turn, if they take it. You can eat in from of customers, not very professional. So if your only option is to eat your packed lunch standing in the company’s closet or in emergency staircase, it’s better to have a sandwich. It’s good for the mood to get out of the workplace for a few minutes, and there are countless delicious shokudo (small restaurants).

Green rice. The idea comes from the Shizuoka Gourmet’s eki-ben cha meshi.Okowa means it’s sticky rice, mochigome. It’s 50% sticky and 50 % brown rice here. I added a few used tea leaves and macha green tea powder diluted in water at the end.

Veggie side. Steamed carrot and green peppers, white beans with sweet chili sauce.

Protein side. A ball of ikanago (eel fish bait) with curry spices, rolled in bread crumbs and black sesame. Dices of konnyaku

The whole lunch with a crisp apple as a dessert.

Don’t forget to put the flower in the box. That will be nice to see it at lunch time.