Previously, on tastingmenu.wordpress.com –
While I was at Nobu 57 for an omakase dinner, I took the opportunity to pick up a copy of Nobu: The Sushi Book. While I was perusing its contents, I noticed a dish entitled Traditional Chirashi Sushi Bowl (p.106,107). It’s basically a braised chicken and root vegetable on sushi rice dish. During the New Year’s holiday, NHK was running a TV special (http://www.nhk.or.jp/dwc/recent/2016/160101.html) which described a dish very similar to what was in Nobu’s sushi cookbook. That dish went by the name ‘nishime’. Anyway, the braising/simmering liquid for the dish as described in Nobu’s book was:
1 cup dashi
2 2/3 T mirin (2 T+2t)
2 2/3T soy sauce (2T+2t)
which is brought to a boil before adding the chicken and root vegetables. A julienned thin omlette, soy simmered shiitake, and soy simmered kampyo garnishes the dish. As a note from Matsuhsia-sama: If you can’t find all the ingredients at your Asian market, just make the dish with what you can find. With that in mind, I decided to try the dish with just the chicken and root vegetables. So I was thinking bite-sized chicken thighs (Whole Foods only had the boneless, skinless variety), carrots, and my wife would go and get the lotus root/renkon.
The full ingredient list specified for this dish was:
5 oz chicken thighs skin-on (cut into bite size pieces – we got the boneless skinless variety)
1/2 burdock root (2 1/2 oz), cleaned, peeled and cut into bite size pieces
4″ lotus root, cleaned, peeled and cut into bite size pieces
1 8oz bamboo shoot (boiled), cleaned, peeled and cut into bite size pieces
1/2 carrot, cleaned, peeled and cut into bite size pieces (4 oz)
3 soy simmered shiitake
2/3 oz, (3 feet) soy simmered kampyo
julienned thin omlette
8 ginkgo nutes (toasted, shells removed)
mitsuba cut into 1/2″ lengths
and apparently this was to fit into 4 masu sake boxes (…and these boxes tend to be on the small side). This was perhaps appropriate for a rice course in a multipart kaiseki or omakase menu. So, I was going to double the amount to serve 2 as a main course.
The soy simmered kampyo begins by washing the kampyo and then boiling it for 30 minutes. The boiled kampyo is then transferred into a braising liquid of 2 c of dashi, 1/2 cup each of soy, mirin, sake and 10 oz of sugar. The whole thing is brought to a boil and then simmered for 30 minutes. The kampyo is pulled out of the braise and then cooled. The braising liquid is saved to simmer sushi eel (anago) […and I have to wonder if I could use this for mackerel or sardines?]. Unfortunately, I didn’t see them at Ebisuya in Medford.
The soy simmered shiitake are dried shiitake reconstituted with an overnight soak in water and then simmered in 2 cups of the soaking water (the recipe says to start out with 1 quart for 10 dried shiitake), 1/2 cups of both sake and mirin, 4 T of sugar and 4 T of soy. The mushrooms and the soaking liquid are brought to boil, the heat turned down to a simmer. At that point the seasoning are added the whole thing cooks for about 30-40 minutes until the liquid is reduced to a syrup. I didn’t have the
dried shiitake but I been gifted with large dried ‘royal princess’ mushrooms (aka himematsutake). So I soaked them overnight
and realized I only got 2 cups of soaking liquid as a result. So I tried to simmer them with added 4 cups of water for about an
So, to do this dish, I would have to prepare at least a day in advance – just to prepare the soy simmered himematsutake.
So I measured out the mirin, sake, sugar and soy and brought the soaking liquid and the extra water to a boil.
While that was coming to a boil, I trimmed off the mushroom stem, cut them up into 16 pieces and got them into the
the braising base which brought up to a boil.
I skimmed the braise as best I could and added the seasonings. It turned out adding the extra water was a good idea since it managed to submerge and partially cover the mushrooms for the braising process. At that point, I had to let it cook down for about an hour (only because I was using himematsutake rather than the thinner/smaller shiitake). When that was done, I set it aside to cool to room temperature and stored it in the refridgerator for the meal the next day.
The next day, I went shopping and got most of the vegetables I wanted from Ebisuya. Unfortunately, they seemed to be out of the mitsuba, kanpyo and ginko (and no yuzu juice either!). When I got home, I started the preparations by turning my attention to the gobo (burdock). I
washed and peeled 1 root (which all told, came to about 4 oz).
After cutting up the gobo and getting them into a bowl of cold water, I focused on the bamboo shoot. Now, after rinsing it off
and cutting them up, I noticed a number of hard white spots on the cut pieces which I had to spend time getting off the diced
bamboo shoots. The cut up bamboo shoots went into another bowl of cold water. The last two vegetables were the lotus root and carrots
The lotus root, I split lengthwise and then diced it as I had the bamboo shoots and got them into a last bowl of cold water. My
wife volunteered to cut up the carrots for me whilst I was busy with the other vegetables (she weighed out 8 oz and then cut them up). Since I was making this for my wife and I as a main course, I would double the amount of chicken, and then double
it again for a total of about 20 oz (and in this case it ended up being about 1 1/2 lbs) of boneless skinless chicken thighs. I chose to go skinless since I wanted it to have a somewhat cleaner after taste. I prepared the chicken by cutting them into bite size
pieces (basically quartering each of the thigh pieces). So to make the nishime, I got 2 cups of hot dashi into the braise pot with
5 tablespoons+1 teaspoon each of mirin and soy sauce. I then loaded ALL the prepared ingredients into the boiling braise,
brought it back to a boil and then lowered to a simmer for about 15 minutes.
While the braise was cooking, I turned my attention to making sushi rice! As it would turn out, one of my rice bowls could hold
exactly 8 oz of water, so I used that to portion out 4 cups of rice to make shari with 2T+4t sushi vinegar (at my wife’s request).
After mixing the sushi rice and letting it rest for 10 minutes, we started plating the meal.
This was mild, but very tasty and satisfying dish. ‘Chirashi’, according to Morimoto: The New Art Of Japanese Cooking (p. 46), means “scattered”; and indeed the toppings on the sushi rice bed are certainly ‘scattered’. But the fact this dish contains cooked elements should help disabuse one’s notion that chirashi has to be raw. Indeed, Nobu Now contains a recipe for Seafood Bara Sushi (p. 191) where all the elements topping the bed of sushi rice are cooked. To recast Iron Chef Morimoto’s comments from the introduction to his book “…we love the chirashi we’ve eaten but it wasn’t raw…” with the rejoinder “….why isn’t it chirashi and why must it be raw…?” I think the important take away from this is that a ‘chirashi’ can be topped with either raw or cooked elements. It certainly opens up the possibility of all sorts of chirashi’s one could make.
An observation: While ‘chirashi’ conveys the notion of scatter (a top something), the notion of tiradito has its roots in the Spanish word ‘tirar’ which the fish is ‘thrown’ into a mixing bowl with ceviche seasonings (Nobu: The Cookbook, p. 120). In Matsuhisa-sama’s case, the sashimi is carefully plated with aji rocoto chili dots on each piece and yuzu,lemon juices and salt are drizzled/scattered atop the sashimi.
Burdock root, boiled bamboo shoot, lotus root (renkon) – Ebisuya, Medford, MA
11″ hangiri/handai – Ebisuya, Medford, MA