Nikkei Cuisine: Sea bream with jalapeno rice
This dish – according to Luiz Hara, creator of The London Foodie blog and the capital’s packed-out foodie hotspot, the Nikkei Supper Club – is proper Japanese home cooking, the kind you’d never find in a restaurant.
‘Sea bream rice is a classic of Japanese home cooking, and is a dish I have always loved. It can be made in a rice cooker or in a clay pot; the latter to be served at the table for added wow factor,’ he writes in his new book Nikkei: Japanese Food The South American Way (Jacqui Small, £25). ‘ The fish is cooked over the rice, imparting a delicious flavour to the dish.’
The South American twist comes in the dressing: a tangy mix of olive oil, yuzu juice and jalepeno green chillies, which is mixed into the disk before serving. According to Hara, it perfectly exemplifies the essence of Nikkei cuisine: ‘traditional Japan embracing the spice of South America.’
600g short-grain white rice
100ml light soy sauce
2.5cm piece of root ginger, peeled and cut into fine julienne strips
4 sea bream fillets, scaled and pin-boned
Sprinkle of sansho pepper
For the yuzu and green jalapeño dressing
1 green jalapeno chilli, deseeded and finely chopped
4 tbsp finely chopped spring onions (scallions)
4 tbsp yuzu juice
4 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
1. Wash the rice in a bowl with plenty of fresh water using a circular motion with your hand. Drain the water and repeat this rinsing three or four times until the water runs clear. Let the rice drain in a colander for at least 15 minutes.
2. Meanwhile, prepare the soaking and cooking broth. Combine the water, mirin and light soy sauce and set aside. Soak the drained rice in the cooking broth in a clay pot or a rice cooker for 30 minutes (see further explanation, below).
3. To make the dressing, simply put all the ingredients in a bowl and mix together well. Pour the dressing over the fish and rice just before serving.
Rice cooker method
After the soaking and before cooking, scatter half of the ginger strips over the rice, lay the sea bream fillets on top and turn the rice cooker on. It should take about 15-20 minutes to cook. Once the rice cooker’s alarm beeps indicating that the rice is cooked, let the rice rest for at least 15 minutes before opening the rice cooker. To serve, do not take the rice cooker to the table! Make all the necessary preparations and serve the rice in individual bowls at the table. Then top with the remaining strips of ginger in the centre of each bowl, followed by a sprinkle of sansho pepper and serve immediately.
Clay pot method
Tightly wrap a tea-towel (dish towel) over the lid of a Japanese clay pot (known as donabe) or if you do not have one you can use a heavy casserole pan. After the soaking and before cooking, scatter half of the ginger strips over the rice, lay the sea bream fillets on the top (I like to arrange the fillets to look like an open flower), place the lid on top and bring to the boil. Once boiling, bring the temperature down to the lowest setting and cook for 15 minutes. Turn off the heat, and without opening the lid (don’t open the lid at any stage of the cooking process), rest for a further 15 minutes. To serve in style, take the unopened clay pot to the table, open it in front of your guests and, if desired, carefully remove the skin of the fish. Pour the dressing over the fish and rice then using a wide wooden spoon, fluff the rice well, breaking the fish into tiny pieces and mixing it together with the dressing into the rice. Mix thoroughly.
Nikkei Cuisine: Japanese Food The South American Way by Luiz Hara is published by Jacqui Small, £25, available from Amazon here