Monday, October 18, 2010

chirashi sushi

Much to my dismay, on Saturday night, my roasted butternut squash was not developing the color I'd hoped for. Instead of caramelizing and crisping along the edges, it was practically steaming, in a 400F oven set to ROAST. To reiterate, it wasn't roasting, it was steaming. Frustrated, I glanced to my right and noticed Mark Bittman's How To Cook Everything, a Christmas gift I received last year but hadn't yet given it the full attention it deserved. I flipped through the index, looking for roasted butternut squash and found: nothin'. How To Cook Everything couldn't tell me how to properly cook roasted butternut squash. Slightly discouraged and muttering, "Seriously, Bitty?" under my breath, I flipped through a couple more pages and ended up on a chart of sorts explaining Sushi Bowls, also known as Chirashi Sushi. Bittman explains:

"Chirashi means 'scattered' and that's exactly what this is: various ingredients scattered over sushi rice."

I don't know about any of you, but I've been stuck in a lunch and dinner rut. I've exhausted all my go to options to the point where I'm developing a less than palatable reaction to them. But a sushi bowl (for a girl who craves sushi on the regular) was just the answer to my epicurean question of: what ELSE is for dinner?!

Here are a few of the combinations I found the most interesting. Each bowl of sticky rice gets a protein (meat, fish, or tofu), a vegetable, and a suggested sauce and/or topping:

Broiled or grilled chicken, Japanese style* with shredded vegetables (i.e. grated raw cucumber or carrots) topped with a soy dipping sauce and/or soy-based marinade

Pan-roasted tuna steaks with sliced avocado and mayo flavored with wasabi and topped with thinly sliced scallion

Grilled or broiled pork chops with Japanese pickles (found in Japanese market) or spicy Asian-style pickles, topped with toasted sesame seeds

Pan-cooked salmon with roasted scallions, Asian style**, and topped with ponzu sauce

Oven-fried sesame chicken with quick-cooked bok choy and pickled ginger

Broiled (or grilled) Chicken, Japanese Style*

1/4 cup soy sauce
3 tbsp. sake or dry white wine
2 tbsp. mirin (or 1 tbsp. honey mixed with 1 tbsp. water)
3 scallions, roughly chopped
1 tbsp. minced garlic
1 tbsp. minced fresh ginger
1 whole chicken (3 to 4 lbs.) trimmed of excess fat and cut into 8 pieces, or any combination of parts
neutral oil, like grapeseed or corn, for brushing
lemon wedges for garnish

Mix everything together except the oil and lemon wedges in a large baking dish or heavy plastic bag. Cover and refrigerate for at least 2 hours and as long as overnight, turning occasionally. When you're ready to cook, heat the broiler to moderate heat and put the rack about 6 inches from the heat source.

Start with the skin side down and broil, making sure the bird does not burn, until it's nearly done, about 15 minutes, then turn and cook until done, 5 to 10 minutes longer.

Serve hot, warm, or at room temperature with the lemon wedges.

Roasted scallions, Asian Style**

Heat oven to 400F. Drizzle 2 bunches of scallions with 1 tbsp. peanut oil, 1 tbsp. dark sesame oil, salt and pepper. Spread scallions out on baking sheet and roast, turning once or twice until lightly browned and tender, about 20 minutes. To finish, drizzle with 2 tbsp. rice vinegar, toss, and serve.

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