Ochazuke (“ocha” meaning green tea, “zuke” meaning submerged - together meaning “soaked in tea”) is a simple Japanese rice soup often enjoyed on cold winter days or nights, when you’re feeling under the weather, or after a night of over-indulging. We always have a supply of the various flavors of instant “chazuke” soup packets - like pickled plum (umeboshi), salted salmon (sake), nori (seaweed), green tea (ochazuke) - in our pantry which you can buy on Amazon or in the Asian section of many supermarkets (image at right), which make for a quick and easy meal, but taking just a little bit of time to make this cozy soup from scratch is worth it. And all it takes is salting salmon overnight (or at least 8 hours), cooking some rice, and brewing some green tea. Once grilled, the salty salmon imparts such a delicious flavor on both the green tea and rice.
For a vegetarian version we like to use fried tofu in place of the salmon along with umeboshi (pickled plum) to lend a nice salty-sour flavor.
(Green Tea Rice Soup with Salted Salmon)
The basics of this recipe was inspired by Marc Matsumoto from Norecipes.com, though we adapted it with our favorite seasonings.
1/2 pound fillet of salmon, preferably skin on
1/2 tablespoon salt
2 cups cooked short grain rice
1 pot green tea
2 green onions, finely chopped
Shredded nori (seaweed)
Toasted sesame seeds
Sprinkle salt on all sides of the salmon, gently rubbing it in. Cover or wrap the salmon and place it in the refrigerator overnight to cure (or for at least 8 hours).
After the cure in the refrigerator, place the salted salmon on a wire rack and grill under the broiler until cooked through, watching carefully so that it does not scorch. This will only take a few minutes. Meanwhile, brew the green tea (we prefer a fairly strong brew for this soup).
Remove the salmon from oven and break up into flaky bite-size pieces with a fork, removing any skin and bone.
Divide the cooked rice among two bowls. Top with the salted salmon, chopped green onions, nori, and toasted sesame seeds.
Pour the tea over the rice and serve.
Serve soy sauce and wasabi on the side for extra seasoning if desired.