My new thing is to mix two kinds of rice, hakumai (short-grain white rice) and genmai (brown rice). I used to alternate between brown and white depending on the day, but found brown rice alone to be too heavy sometimes. For example, eating a delicate condiment such as tai-chazuke (white fish condiment with tea poured over it) did not mesh well with brown rice. The brown rice would overpower the tai fish. But, I love the fact that brown rice has all the good nutrients and provides nice give and savory umami!
On the other hand, white rice is very fluffy in texture and sweet in taste. Sometimes this can be too monotonous. The unmistakable mochi-quality of white rice will not compete with softer fish.
To enjoy the best of both worlds, I have been steaming what I call "half-and-half," half brown and half white rice. The result is rice that is pleasing to the eye, with brown and white hues - think cute, fluffy bunnies in the field. The brown rice is beautifully bound together by the white rice, giving the mixture a plump, luxurious quality.
To jack up the umami quotient, I steam my rice with homemade dashi. My dashi is very simple and puts aroma over taste. I soak about combined 4-by-4 inch square of kombu (my kombu comes from the trimmings of the tips of the seaweed plant, purchased from Tsukiji) in 6 cups of room temperature water for 30 minutes.
I then add about a 2-by-1 inch shaving of dried katsuo (bonito) to the pot.
Over medium-high heat, I bring the contents up to a rolling boil then turn the heat off. I let the mixture sit for about 20 minutes to cool off and soak in all the flavors from the kombu and katsuo.
Now that the dashi is done, I ladle in the amount of liquid necessary into the rice cooker. I like to top the rice off with the kombu piece that was in the dashi stock.
Turn the switch on the rice cooker and wait for the magic to happen.
Pop open lid for the magic.
Misozuke saba, canned (don't tell mom.)
*Yoko lives in Tokyo. She loves dips, dashi and deals.