November 20, 2012
Last week, Sakura wrote about chirashi sushi in London, a dish you can find at many Japanese restaurants throughout the world. I grew up in Kansai so when I was young, our chirashi (called bara-chirashi or gomoku chirashi) consisted of cooked root vegetables like bamboo shoots, carrots and yams — all mixed with sushi rice, and topped with thinly sliced egg omelet. I actually find it very comforting and definitely cheaper to make than the edomae (Tokyo) version with raw fish.
This week, I made an extreme version of bara-chirashi. Have you seen Jiro Dreams of Sushi? It’s one of the most famous sushi restaurants in the world, thanks to the documentary. There’s a lot of arguments that Sukiyabashi Jiro (the name of his restaurant) isn’t the best in Japan. It’s just Michelin starred, and the film made the place über famous. Good for them.
I’ve never eaten there, nor do I think I will ever shell out 50,000 yen ($600) for about 20 minutes of sushi. I am sure it is superb, but food is just food, and spending $600 for 20 minutes isn’t me. Hell, spending $250 in 90 minutes made me very suspicious about luxurious restaurant in general — remember?
When your restaurant becomes famous, what do you do? Start selling your dressings, cutleries, pots, and frozen foods, right? Apparently Jiro has lent his name to some company that makes his “style” bara-chirashi, which you can buy online (I can’t find any links, maybe it’s over?).
Based on a couple of recipes I saw, I created my own Jiro bara-sushi. I don’t even know if this is served at his restaurant. Since this involves a day full of work, I am not going to even bother to write recipe, but here is what I did.
First cook rice, and make sushi rice. Mind you, this has a lot more vinegar than sugar compared to usual sushi rice. You will know why.
I cooked dried shiitake mushroom with a soy/sugar/mushroom soaking liquid, and made tamagoyaki (egg omelette) and chopped it up pretty small. I also cooked shrimp, that I also marinated in sugar/vinegar. Sprinkle on top of the rice evenly.
Here comes the extreme part.
From left, shrimp soboro (boil shrimp, cool, process it, then cook with sugar, mirin and water until it becomes completely fluffy), cod soboro (boil cod, get rid of all the skin and bones, process, then cook with sugar, mirin and water until it become completely fluffy), and egg yolk soboro (boil egg, separate yolks and let cool, process, then cook with sugar, mirin and water until they become completely fluffy).
Soboro is a Japanese dish, usually consisting of ground meat that has been cooked with soy sauce, water and sugar, until all the liquid evaporates. Usually chicken and egg soboro are popular ingredients for rice bowls. But you can go the extra mile and use fish for soboro and make toppings for sushi. Each item takes about 1-1.5 hour to make it a completely fluffy/dry texture. You also have to continuously stir in order for water contents to evaporate and not let it burn — this is a pain in the neck.
But look how pretty these are.
I topped with snow peas, and halved shrimp just to make it extra cute and professional.
You can be pretty creative how you decorate the top with three soboro. Soboro, either made by meat base or fish, is a very good way to decorate your bentos. This is one of the most popular items to make chara-ben (bento box filled with anime characters).
I am sure these bentos would look nicer if I used lacquerware, but this clear side makes it exciting. Layers of goodness!!!
Toppings are very sweet, hence the rice shouldn’t be too sweet. If you eat each item individually, it would either be too sweet or too bland, but by mixing the whole thing together, the combination of sweet, shrimp, and vinegar, make it all heavenly.
If you want to know the recipe, let me know. I gave this to a friend, and he basically finished the whole container by himself, in like 10 minutes. Worthwhile effort, indeed.