I love simple, broth-y noodle or rice bowls that can be flavored to your own liking by adding various toppings and condiments. This dish fits the bill. And it happens to be one of the first cooking with tea dishes I ever tried making.
This version is a bit more spiced up than a traditional Japanese tea rice dish, which is typically made with plain white rice and a broth of green tea. I made this into a hearty vegetarian dish with veggie broth, brown rice and tofu. You could easily make this into a seafood dish by using clam juice, sushi-style white rice and scallops instead.
In this version, I use my own Zanitea Lemon Sencha organic green tea blend for the tea part of the broth. My Zanitea Lemon Sencha is a blend of Japanese Sencha green tea, lemongrass and lemon verbena. Japanese Sencha has a sweet, smooth, sea-like flavor, and the light lemon infusion from the herbs in this tea blend adds a nice layer of flavor to this delicate dish.
But a plain Sencha green tea would work just fine here, too.
Happy cooking and sipping!
Japanese Tea Rice
Adapted by Suzanne Klein, Tea Foodie from the Scallop Tea Rice recipe from Bon Appétit, January 2004, on Epicurious.com.
Makes 4 servings
14 oz. block very firm tofu, cut into eight pieces
¼ cup soy sauce
¼ cup sake
1 teaspoon Szechwan peppercorns, crushed (optional)
1 cup brown rice
2 cups plus ½ cup vegetable broth
2 teaspoons fresh ginger root, peeled and minced
1 teaspoon sugar
½ teaspoon kosher salt
2 tablespoons canola oil
2 ½ cups boiled water
2 tablespoons loose leaf lemon and sencha green tea blend (a plain sencha would work too)
For toppings (optional):
Thinly sliced or shredded vegetables, e.g. bok choy, carrots, spinach, mushrooms
Chopped herbs, e.g. basil, cilantro, mint
White or black sesame seeds, toasted
Green onion, white and green parts thinly sliced
Siracha chili sauce
Nori (dried seaweed), sliced in thin strips
1. Marinate the tofu: Mix the soy sauce, sake, and Szechwan peppercorns together in a small bowl. Pour the mixture over the tofu pieces, cover, and allow the tofu to marinate for 2 to 4 hours in the refrigerator. Turn the tofu over in the marinade every once in a while.
2. Prepare the rice: Rinse the brown rice in a strainer until the water runs clear, and drain well. In a medium saucepan, add the rice, 2 cups of the broth, ginger, sugar, and salt, and bring to boil. Reduce the heat to low, cover, and simmer for 50 minutes. Remove the rice from the heat, and let stand, covered, until the liquid is absorbed and the rice is tender, about 10 minutes.
3. Simmer the marinade liquid: Take the tofu pieces out of the marinade, and set them on a paper towel-lined plate. Pour what remains of the marinade liquid into a small saucepan. Add the remaining ½ cup of broth to the same saucepan, and bring the mixture to boil. Reduce the heat, and allow the mixture to simmer until you’ve finished searing the tofu in the next step.
4. Sear the tofu: Heat the oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat. Add the tofu pieces, and sear for about 3 minutes on each side, or until the tofu has nice dark brown spots on each side. (Note: Be very careful, because the liquid from the tofu marinade may cause the hot oil to splatter.) Remove the seared tofu pieces from the skillet and set them on a fresh paper towel-lined plate to soak up some of the oil.
5. Prepare the tea broth: Steep the loose leaf green tea in the just boiled water for 5 minutes. Strain the tea, and discard the tea leaves.
6. Assemble the rice bowls: Divide the cooked rice among 4 shallow soup bowls. Place 2 pieces of the seared tofu on top of the rice in each bowl. Spoon some of the simmered marinade mixture over the tofu and rice, and then pour some of the hot green tea into each bowl. Serve, passing the various prepared toppings alongside.
- For a seafood version, use clam juice instead of veggie broth, white sushi-style rice instead of brown rice, and 8 scallops instead of the block of tofu. You can follow the same preparation.