I’ve just got back from spending a long weekend in Amsterdam and Paris catching up with old friends from far-flung places, going to galleries, drinking coffee, eating food, taking photos and reading books, which anyone will tell you is as close to heaven as I can ever get.
It also meant, however, that I ate a lot of bread, bready things and bread-based pastries, so on my first morning back at home I wanted something vastly different; something savoury, interesting and something to comfort my tummy back in not-quite-so-warm Edinburgh.
I was inspired by two very disparate things for this recipe; the British-Indian breakfast dish Kedgeree (or Kichiri), and Manpuku, a tiny Japanese restaurant near OCAD in Toronto. I used to go to the latter often when I lived in TO, as their food was amazing, cheap and full of personality. Where else in Toronto can you eat for less than $5?
When I began thinking of a rice-based breakfast like Kedgeree, then, my favourite dish from Manpuku jumped into my head. Ochazuke is soup-style dish of green tea and rice, and at Manpuku they fry the rice into triangular patties that are sometimes stuffed with tofu. (You can find my version of that dish here.)
Stuffed rice patties are known as Yaki Onigiri in Japan, and I always loved the crispy edges on the rice patties and the surprise of the food in the middle – so, I thought, why not stuff the patties with breakfasty vegetables and leave off the green tea? I love the taste of the nori in this dish, so along with some ginger and a bit of soy, I added that to the stuffing. It was glorious.
This is a dish perfect to make with leftover sushi from the night before – and when you do so, it’s a very quick meal. However, if you don’t have leftover sushi rice in your fridge, it’s still easy enough to make with just-made rice, and just as delicious.
You can change the veggies as you see fit; you can add tofu, or switch the spinach for kale, or whatever you feel like. Make it yours – but don’t leave out the Sriracha on top!
1 1/2 cups sushi rice and 2 cups water OR 2 cups cooked sushi rice*
1 tablespoon rice vinegar
Grated fresh ginger – as much as you like!
1/2 an orange pepper, sliced thinly
3-4 shiitake mushrooms or similar, sliced thinly
1/2 a spring onion, sliced thinly
A little shredded nori
2 large handfuls spinach
soy sauce (make sure its GF if you are)
*Please note; the 20-minute time frame for this recipe is based on using pre-cooked rice. It will be more like 30 if you have to cook the rice.
Cook the rice (place the rice and water into a pan, bring it to the boil, then simmer with the lid on until cooked) and let it cool. If you’re using leftovers, just take it out of the fridge
Stir in the rice vinegar; if you’re using leftovers and they’re a little dry, add in a little more vinegar
Allow the rice to rest and heat a little sesame oil in a frying pan
Add in the grated ginger and pepper slices, cook for 3-4 minutes then add in the mushrooms (with a little more sesame oil if necessary), spring onions and nori. Cook for 3-4 minutes
Remove from the heat, add a splash of soy sauce and add in the spinach and stir until the heat from the veggies wilts the spinach
Take 1/2 cup of the rice and place onto a piece of cling film / Saran Wrap
Spread out the rice a little and place 1/4 of the veggie mixture in the middle
Compact each portion of rice into a tight triangle around the veggies using the cling film, pressing together as much as possible. Press, press then press some more. Repeat for the 3 other rice patties and remove each one gently from the cling film
Fry a little more sesame oil in the frying pan, heat on high then gently add each rice triangle in, browning on each side quickly
Top with sesame seeds and black pepper and serve 2 to a bowl – with Sriracha on top if you’re like me and love the damn stuff.
If you’re making these one day for yourself, why not save 2 of the patties for the next day? Just keep them in the cling film and pop them in the fridge; the next morning, it’ll be a 2-minute job to fry them and serve them up. Perfect!
If you have some vegan kim chi or other pickled or fermented condiments like sauerkraut, they’ll be fantastic when served up with this, and should set you up really well for the day, nutrition-wise. Anything fresh and colourful will go well, really, and if you want to make this dish into a deconstructed Ochazuke dish, enjoy with a cup of good green tea and skip off to work feeling happy as a clam.