If there's one thing 6 days in paradise (Kauai) reminded me about life, it's that cooking rice on the stove top (and not in a rice cooker) is so easy! I used to do it all the time when I worked as a server at a restaurant called Konohana in Tokyo. That was the only thing that they would let me do in the realm of cooking -- the rice for the lunch special. That was now over four years ago!
Fast forward to last week, when I was maxing and relaxing in Kauai with a Mai Tai in hand.
This was my first time in Hawaii, and I am officially smitten. I am the generic "adult" whom I feared I would become as a teenager -- vacationing in Hawaii, reading John Irving books by the beach and sleeping by 10pm. BORING!!!
We stayed in a condo during our time in Kauai. There was no rice cooker, so we had to cook our rice on the stove top. It's much faster than a rice cooker, but doesn't yield rice that has the same mochirikan (plump texture) that you would find in rice that has been cooked in a rice cooker. That's not to say that the rice that's cooked on the stovetop can't be totally satisfying.
So, today, back at home in Berkeley, I am inspired by our escapades with stovetop rice in Kauai, and decided to make a ika-shiitake takinomi gohan. That translates to squid-shiitake steamed rice. But instead of cooking the rice in a regular pot, I'm going to use my clay nabe pot to achieve a little bit of okoge (crispy rice).
2.5 cups of rice
2.5 cups of dashi
8-10 shiitake mushrooms, cut in thin slices
1 surume ika, cleaned
1/4 cup soy sauce
1/4 cup mirin or sake
1. Wash rice and raise it in a colander for at least 20 minutes.
2. Clean the squid. Cut the body into slices of O's. Cut the legs into small pieces.
3. Combine the dashi, soy sauce and mirin in a bowl or Pyrex pitcher.
4. Put the rice in the nabe, then the dashi mixture, then lay the squid and shiitake on top of it.
Adding the dashi mixture...
Pile on the squid...
Top with a mound of shiitake.
5. Close the lid of the nabe, turn on the heat to high and bring to boil. Once it comes to a boil, turn down the heat to the lowest setting. Resist the urge to open the lid before the rice is ready. Take it easy! Your patience will be rewarded. Depending on your stovetop, the rice will be ready in 20-30min from the moment you turn down the heat from boiling.
Once the 20 minutes are up, open the lid and check to see if it's done, if the rice cores are still a little firm, continue simmering for another 5 minutes.
Once the rice is done, keep the lid on the pot and turn the heat on high for 1 minute. This will create a layer of okoge (crispy, toasted rice) at the bottom of the pot. You should soon be hit with a slight toasty scent. Be careful not to keep the stove on for more than 2-3 minutes.
6. Mix well so that the squid, shiitake and rice co-mingle.
This is the first dish of the season that I am cooking something in my nabe, mainly because the past few months have been a crazy, busy blur. I am looking forward to a quieter couple months ahead, spending many more nights with my nabe. This squid, shiitake rice is the perfect dish to break in my nabe this winter.
Notice the achievement in okoge (crispy rice) on the top left side of my bowl.
In addition to reminding me about how easy it is to cook rice on the stove top, Hawaii also taught me that I should accept my adult self and take it slow.