Have you ever ordered a meal at a restaurant and then spent your entire dining experience glancing at your neighbor’s dish with shifty eyes? This is what we call food envy. A common condition, often the result of hasty or premature ordering. Or, if you’re me, ignorant menu reading.
In DC there’s a really cute tea house by the name of Teaism. As one would appropriately assume, I spent the majority of my menu reading time in the “tea” section. The result was quite an enjoyable cup of (and current obsession with) Golden Monkey Tea. I quickly skimmed the “lunch” portion of the menu. It wasn’t very large, but maybe that’s because I completely skipped over the part titled “Ochazuke.” I had no idea what that was, saw the word “soup” as part of the description and immediately moved on. Hot soup with a side of hot tea…I’m too impatient to wait for all of that to cool. I did something I don’t normally do and ordered a veggie burger. It was the organic shiitake mushrooms that caught my eye. I have to enjoy mushrooms at restaurants whenever I can, since I married a mushroom-hater and am deprived of them at home.
The burger was terrible. It was boring and just did not taste good, made worse by the fact that there at the table next to me was a beautiful, bright, steaming, fresh bowl of Ochazuke. Food envy.
The dish was so beautiful that I actually re-read the menu in order to figure out just what I had passed up. Turns out I had missed a few critical words – “green tea soup” not just “soup.” You know the number one reason to order soup at a tea house? Because there’s tea in it. Genius. After a little research, I learned that Ochazuke is a Japanese dish commonly made by pouring hot tea or water over rice. I like to think of this dish as one of those kitchen wrongs turned right. Like accidentally dropping your strawberries in chocolate. Perhaps someone spilled green tea on their rice and voila an appealing, healthy soup.
Teaism offered many variations including salmon, shrimp, tofu and plum. I wanted to try each of them, but instead, I decided this would be a great recipe to try out on my cooking club. I attempted to create a salmon version which has now become a frequent dinner in this house. It’s a simple dish, a sort of build-your-own soup with endless adaptations. Brown rice, edamame and baked salmon are layered and sit in a shallow pool of tea spiked broth. Ginger and garlic are present in both the broth and baked with the salmon creating a savory, warm, delectable soup. A soup packed full of healthy ingredients. A soup good enough to cure two cases of bronchitis, one case of laryngitis, one sinus infection and most importantly, that nagging case of food envy.
Ochazuke (serves 4)
For the salmon:
1-1.5 lbs salmon filet
2 cloves garlic, crushed
1 teaspoon freshly grated ginger
1 tablespoon soy sauce (or tamari for gluten free substitute)
salt and pepper to taste
For the soup:
2 cups cooked brown rice
1 cup cooked shelled edamame
4 cups chicken broth
2 cups water
4-6 green tea bags (regular or decaffeinated, whichever you prefer)
1 clove garlic, crushed
1 teaspoon freshly grated ginger
2 tablespoons soy sauce (or tamari for gluten free substitute)
1/2 teaspoon Sriracha sauce (optional)
freshly ground black pepper, to taste
chopped scallions, for topping
chopped cilantro, for topping
Posted on February 5, 2011