Wednesday, November 26, 2008

Recipe - Japanese Rice Salad 海洋の饭 (Rice of the Sea)

Another recipe to share with all of you.

I am rice-lover. I never hesitated to answer people that I like rice when asked what is my favourite food. I like how a small bowl of rice can satisfy your hunger and fill you up almost instantly. I like how the simple rice can be accompanied with so many dishes, but still retained its delicate favour. I also like the slight sweetness of rice which can be eaten alone or with a spoonful condiments such as samba chili.

Weeks ago, my colleague whom we affectionately addressed as Aunty (clarify: we called her Aunty out of respect, not because she is an aunty...) had this very interesting looking lunch. It was a simple almost salad like scallop steamed rice dressed with wakame (marinated seaweed).

She caught me hawking over her lunch thus gave me a mouthful of her homecooked meal to try it out. Goodness, that mouthful of rice was so delicious! She had steamed high-grade dried scallop from Japan together with the rice which gives it a unique aroma and taste. The rice captured the essense of the sea which exploded in your mouth . Though I descibed that way, the taste wasn't that empowering that it would put you off. It has a very nice balance.

I like it so much that I asked her for the recipe. Over last weekend, I altered the recipe slightly and cooked my own version of the steamed scallop rice. I named it aptly - 海洋の饭 (Read as Umi no Gohan) - Translated as Rice of the Sea.

To cook Rice of the Sea, you will need:

There is no hard and fast rule that you have to follow the quantity exactly. The measurement are all by estimation. Also, instead of steaming which is not easy, I cooked the rice using rice cooker.

  • Dried Scallops - Depending on the size, 5 to 6 pieces (can use more if you like) These has to be soak overnight.
  • Ginger - About 2 to 3 cm knob, sliced thinly.
  • Rice - I used 3 cups to feed my big family, please adjust it to your usual size.
  • Optional - one Chinese Sausage cut into small cubes.

Preparation Work:

First, soaked the scallop overnight so that it will be easier to cook in rice cooker. However, in Aunty's version, she actually steamed the scallop thus there is no need to soak overnight. She also said that the scallop will taste better as their essense are not diffused in soaking water. I overcomed that by using the soaked scallop liquid to cook rice as well.

Please note: In any case, you are not supposed to throw away the scallop liquid. They are all essense.

For use, shred them slightly. Just for laughs, you know scallop aren't cheap. I actually got a scolding from my mum for using too much scallop. I mean Aunty uses more than me for that small bowl of rice which I am trying to imitate ... Forgot she is a tai-tai...

Erm... how do I explain this? Lup Chiong (Chinese Sausage) is not exactly made from sea creature, but I think it will added another layer of flavour, complexity to the taste of the rice.

Very simply, wash the rice as you normally would. Drained dry. Pour in the scallop with liquid, ginger, Chinese Sausage. Topped up the rest of the liquid needed to cook rice with water. In rice cooker, cook rice as you normally would. Not sure how fluffy you like the rice to be, for this dish, the rice should be cooked firmer.

Cooked Rice. I like the colour of the rice. Because of the scallops, the rice is not exactly white. It is in pale gold colour and the scallop shreds seems to be gittling under the light. The smell is just extrodinary, gingery and seafoody.
How to we eat it?

With marinated seaweed. I did not buy the seaweed myself. My mum bought this packed preserved seaweed (See below). I dressed it with vinegar, soy sauce, sugar, sesame seed oil etc. (Will provide exact recipe next time round).

Here's how the packet seaweed looked like. It is not easy to prepare the seaweed though. Don't know why, there are actually grind-like salt crystal and sand in the seaweed. You have to rinse it before use. Then when rinsing, it cannot be soaked for too long which otherwise resulted in slimy seaweed. It should have a crunchy and chewy texture.

Scoop the seaweed salad over the hot rice. Topped it up with some small ikan billis. Yosh, you got yourself a healthy warm rice salad - 海洋の饭 (Rice of the Sea).

いたたきます!(Itatakimatsu: Let's eat!)

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