This dish is usually served in the spring with tai (sea bream), and tinted sweet rice: the pinks are associated with cherry blossoms. Autumn is beginning here so I’ve used wild salmon and flavored the rice with shiso from my garden. 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.
Japanese cooking is not always difficult. Once you set up your steamer, this satisfying dish is a easy to make as a casserole. Original recipe called for chicken thighs with skin and bones. When I first made this last October (before the blog), I found that the bones made this dish difficult to eat. The skin was not very appealling. This time I skinned and boned the chicken. For more flavor, you can cook the bones with the food and remove them before serving. Occasionally I’ve made gribbenes with the skin to sprinkle on top.
Ms. Shimbo says that the daikon has enzymes which keep the pork tender and juicy. This food is familiar and exotic at the same time; it would be a nice meal to serve to guests who don’t usually eat Japanese. I think it will also be a great “planned leftover” dinner. At least I hope so—I fell asleep for the night before the pork was finished so Mr. Tess served himself, took a photo of his plate, and ate by himself. He said the ponzu sauce was just right with the pork.
Ms. Shimbo provides this interesting recipe for making a steamed chocolate cake with candied orange peel. It seems that traditional Japanese homes do not have ovens for baking/roasting in their kitchens. From my reading of many current blogs about Japan, perhaps some (or many homes?) now have ovens, though they may not be as large (nor as hot) as ovens in the U.S.
The weather is crazy: 65°F in January, in Michigan!! This is a nice summery meal with lots of vegetables and cold pork roast. We wrapped thin slices of pork and julienned vegetables with romaine lettuce leaves and dipped them in a spicy, garlicy sauce. It would have been very nice to have this out on the patio because it was a bit messy to eat, but though we were warm, we were also very wet.