Tuesday, March 8, 2011

Recipe - Japanese Tsukemono Layered Rice

As with most families, we have a bunch of family recipes and foods that remind me of my childhood.  I plan to share them on my blog, I am sure other families have similar recipes to ours!  I don't know where this recipe originated, I just know we make it for family gatherings when the theme is Japanese food.  Like our recent Mochi Making day, I figure, if we're going to get together to do a Japanese tradition, we should probably have Japanese foods!   

Tsukemono are Japanese pickles and are common in most Japanese households.  Some may be an acquired taste, and some smell awful!  But even my SO, who isn't Japanese, and wasn't exposed to them until he met me, enjoys them.  If you enjoy pickled vegetables, give them a try!

Japanese Tsukemono Layered Rice

Makes 20-25 servings
  • Assorted Japanese Tsukemono pickles
  • 15 cups of cooked Japanese calrose rice (short grain)
  • Furikake (Japanese seasoning packets)
Some of these ingredients are difficult to find if you don't live near a Japanese market.  Fortunately I live near a few stores that carry these items.  You can also find these online at some specialty retailers. 

For the layered rice pictured above, I used the following tsukemono pickles:

  • 1 jar Takuan or Takuwan - These are bright yellow pickled radish slices.  They are sweet, crunchy, and they smells absolutely horrendous!  I prefer the Hawaiian brands, they seem sweeter than others.  This particular brand, Hilo Co-co, is my favorite.  They also have a hot version that is made with red pepper.  If you can get past the smell, you will see that these pickles taste nothing like what they smell like. It must be something with the radish when it's pickled.  eww.
  • 2 packages Shiba Zuke or Shibazuke - These are bright magenta pickled eggplant with Shiso.   The flavor is sour, tangy and very similar to Ume, or sour plums. 
  • 2 packages Aokappa or Ao Kappa - This are bright green pickled cucumbers.  These are crunchy, sour and salty.   
  • also pictured is Fukujinzuke or Fukujin Zuke - These are sweet pickled vegetables.  I didn't use these for the layered rice, well, because I ran out of room in the dish! 
First, drain and finely dice all of the pickles and set them on paper towels to dry.  Set aside.  

Use a large clear deep dish to show the layers of the rice. I used a large glass oval dish.  The first layer should be rice - spread a 1/4 - 1/2 inch layer of rice and with damp hands, press the rice down.  Cover the rice with the an even layer of one of the pickles.   

Add a second layer of rice over the pickles.

Press the rice down firmly again.

Repeat the process, pressing the rice down firmly after each layer.  Finish with a layer of rice, pressed down firmly. 

Furikake is a soup base seasoning that can be found in Japanese or Asian markets.  My favorite one is in a yellow, red, green and black package, pictured below. 

Sprinkle the top rice layer evenly with Furikake, but be careful not to use too much.  These seasoning packs can be really salty! 

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