…and sometimes I just want comfort food: Ocha Zuke, Matsuhisa-style

Previously, on tastingmenu.wordpress.com –

* https://tastingmenu.wordpress.com/2011/03/04/nobu-weekend-dinner-at-home

Sometimes I want something simple, either to finish a meal or as a little something to address that “I’m a little bit hungry”.  When I was in college, I was sometimes able to get a packet or two of Nagatanien chazuke mix for a bowl of rice with hot water.

 I recently came across a picture of Matushisa-sama’s Ocha Zuke on the web at http://www.10best.com/destinations/california/los-angeles/beverly-hills/restaurants/matsuhisa .  That did it. These days, I really like making things like this from scratch. So, I made a quick phone inquiry to Exec Chef Yasuhiko Homma at Matsuhisa, LA @8pm EDT Sat 1 Nov 2014 (just before dinner service).  He confirmed to me that they use a tea/dashi broth combination.  In particular, Yasu-san indicated that the broth is basically a suimono with matcha tea added to it until the suimono just changes color. He also mentioned that I might need to add a little salt to correct the seasoning

For the suimono (based on mushroom soup write up at https://tastingmenu.wordpress.com/2011/03/04/nobu-weekend-dinner-at-home )

1/2 c + 1 T + 1 t dashi
2 t sake
1/2 t usukuchi soy sauce
1/8 1/4 t salt (I had to add another 1/8 t to correct the seasoning)

the initial 1/8 teapoon of salt (I would have to add 1/8 t of salt more to correct the seasoning)

the initial 1/8 teapoon of salt (I would have to add 1/8 t of salt more to correct the seasoning)

getting the 2 teaspoons of sake for the suimomo

getting the 2 teaspoons of sake for the suimomo

Getting the 1/2 t of usukuchi soy sauce for the suimono base

Getting the 1/2 t of usukuchi soy sauce for the suimono base

the suimono dashi base

the suimono dashi base

The suimono portion completed

The suimono portion completed

But how to make the matcha tea? Shizuo Tsuji’s Japanese Cooking: A Simple Art (p. 334) suggests whisking 2 teaspoons of matcha powder with 1/2 c of water.  The details can be found online here:

http://books.google.com/books?id=fby2Er0seMMC&lpg=PA334&ots=K0_N0zCE_k&dq=%22shizuo%20tsuji%22%20matcha&pg=PA334#v=onepage&q=%22shizuo%20tsuji%22%20matcha&f=false

So perhaps I could make the matcha tea from 1 teaspoon of matcha powder and 1/4 c of hot water (it turns out you want to use 3 tablespoons of the resulting matcha tea for this dish).

Matcha for the ochazuke

Matcha for the ochazuke

Getting a teaspoon of the matcha powder

Getting a teaspoon of the matcha powder to be mixed with 1/4 cup of boiling hot water

Combining 3 tablepoons of matcha tea to the suimono so that the suimono JUST turns color

Combining 3 tablepoons of matcha tea to the suimono so that the suimono JUST turns color

As for the rice and toppings, the picture from Matsuhisa-sama (see: http://img1.10bestmedia.com/Images/Photos/230442/7627439094-53dfef186f-b_54_990x660_201404241158.jpg ) suggests a bowl of rice with sesame seeds, finely minced scallion greens, finely sliced scallion whites (or is that shredded daikon?), wasabi, nori and sashimi before the addition of the dashi/matcha

a scallion whose green parts were to be finely minced and the white parts 'shredded'.  Yes, that's a scallion shredding tool on the cutting board

a scallion whose green parts were to be finely minced and the white parts ‘shredded’. Yes, that’s a scallion shredding tool on the cutting board

mix. For my version, I would do the rice, sesame seeds, finely minced scallions, nori, and bits of smoked salmon.

A bowl of hot rice, shredded scallion white, a teaspoon of black sesame seeds and some shredded scallion greens

A bowl of hot rice, shredded scallion white, a teaspoon of black sesame seeds and some shredded scallion greens

Once I prepared my ‘toppings’, I needed to get out some smoked salmon.

I was going to roll three slices of commercial smoked salmon for the ocha zuke

I was going to roll three slices of commercial smoked salmon for the ocha zuke

I was now ready to assemble the dish. Rice went to the bottom of the bowl, sprinkled with sesame seeds, covered with minced scallion greens, layered with three rolled pieces of smoke salmon, topped with a bit of the shredded scallion whites (be careful, the scallion whites can be strong!) and garnished with the shredded nori.

Loading up the bowl rice. Rice, sesame seeds, green scallion, smoked salmon, some scallion whites and shredded nori

Loading up the bowl rice. Rice, sesame seeds, green scallion, smoked salmon, some scallion whites and shredded nori

I now reheated the suimono/matcha mixture.  Upon tasting the broth to correct the seasoning, I estimated that I needed to add another 1/8 of teaspoon of salt. I mixed in the added salt  and then carefully poured the broth into the side of the bowl.

Adding in the hot dashi/matcha broth mixture

Adding in the hot suimono/matcha broth mixture

And so I mixed the bowl contents together to enjoy.  Compared to the Nagatanien chazuke mix, there was a wonderful ‘freshness’ and balanced savoriness to the dish. I think I’m going to try the dish with a little shredded daikon using my Benriner Kanekichi Turning Slicer.  This was a really nice dish to have at the end of a cold slightly snowy evening. Yasu-san, Matsuhisa-sama, thank you for helping me out with this dish!

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