Salmon Steamed with Sweet Rice

This dish is usually served in the spring with tai (sea bream), and tinted sweet rice: the pinks are associated with cherry blossoms. The first time I made this, I was a bit too generous with the red food coloring, and my pictures, taken with my blurry old camera, made the dish look almost obscene.
Red Snapper Steamed with Sweet Rice

Autumn is beginning here so I’ve used wild salmon (and omitted the artificial coloring) and flavored the rice with shiso from my garden. It’s still pink and white, but looks much more appetizing.
Salmon Steamed with Sweet Rice
Note that this recipe uses a different kind of Japanese rice: mochigome (glutinous rice), sometimes called “sweet rice.” This rice is used in dishes that require more stickiness. It requires soaking (at least 3 hours, to overnight) because it absorbs less water when it’s steamed.

Ms. Shimbo suggests that the tai can be substituted with sea bass, red snapper, cod, or salmon.
Original Recipe: Sea Bream Steamed with Sweet Rice
Tai no Sauramushi

Today’s variation:

Salmon Steamed with Sweet Rice

serves 6
page 382
The Rice:

  • 1 1/2 cups mochigome (glutinous rice)
    I had a lot more rice than needed: make only half this amount.
  • drop of red food coloring, optional
    Keep it optional, or be very careful!
  • 8 salt-pickled cherry leaves, or shiso or basil leaves

Wash the rice. When the water is clear, soak the rice in a large bowl for at least 3  hours to overnight. Shorter soaking will mean a longer cooking time.
Soak the pickled cherry leaves in salted water (1 1/2 Tablespoons per quart) for half an hour. If you’re using shiso or basil, omit this step. Mince the leaves. Toss the shiso or basil with 1/4 teaspoon salt.
Have a steamer ready with plenty of water at high steam production. Place the drained rice in a square of coarse cotton cloth or triple-layered cheesecloth. Transfer the bundle to the heated steamer, smooth the rice, and make a dent in the center to facilitate good steam circulation. Cover the rice completely with the edges of the cloth. Cover the steamer and steam the rice over high heat for 30 to 40 minutes. During the steaming, sprinkle 1/2 cup cold water over the rice every 15 minutes.
Remove the rice from the steamer, and fan it vigorously with a hand fan  or square of cardboard to cool the rice quickly. Toss the rice with the herbs.
The Fish:

  • Four 4-inch wide pieces boned salmon fillet, with skin, about 1pound
    I used 1 12 pounds, in 3 fillets and still had too much rice!

Lay the fillet skin side down, and make a very shallow cut along the center line of the fish, and then cut parallel to the work surface toward the outside edges, one cut to the left, and one to the right. Carefully open the back of the fish in butterfly fashion.
Salt the fish on both sides, and let it stand for 1 hour in a flat-bottomed colander. Dry the fish with paper towels to remove the salt and exuded liquid.
Assembling the fish rolls:

  • Salmon Steamed with Sweet RicePotato Starch, or cornstarch

Place four sheets of plastic wrap, each about 10″ by 12 inches. Place the fish, skin side down, on each sheet of plastic wrap. With a pastry brush, dust the fish with potato starch or cornstarch.
Place one-quarter of the cooled rice across the center of each fish piece, parallel to the short sides, and roll the fish and rice into a tight cylinder. (Just put as much rice as you can—fish does not stretch!) Wrap the fish rolls tightly in the plastic wrap.
Cooking the fish rolls:
Transfer the wrapped fish rolls to the heated steamer, and cook them over high heat for 12 to 15 minutes.
Remove the fish rolls from the steamer, and let them stand for 10 minutes.
The Sauce:

  • 10 ounces nanohana (rape blossoms) or young broccoli raab
  • 2 cups dashi (fish stock)
  • 3 slices bacon
  • 1 Tablespoon shoyu
  • 1 teaspoon sugar
  • 2 Tablespoons mirin

In a pot of boiling water, parboil the broccoli rab until heated through but still crisp, 1 to 2 minutes. cool the vegetables under cold running water, drain them immediately, and squeeze them to remove excess water. Cut them into 2-inch lengths, and set them aside.
In a saucepan over medium heat, bring the dashi to a boil, with two slices of bacon, the shoyu, sugar and mirin.  Cook the mixture for 3 minutes. Remove the saucepan from heat. Remove the bacon from the stock and discard it.
In a skillet, cook the remaining slice of bacon until crisp. Cut the crisp bacon into small pieces.
Unwrap the fish rolls, and arrange each over a portion of vegetables. (I cut the steamed fillets in half.) Pour the sauce over the fish. Garnish the fish with the crisp bacon, and serve.

Salmon Steamed with Sweet Rice

Other Steamed Japanese Recipes from Tess

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