- Paw desperately through fridge. Find leftover rice. Pour boiling water directly into rice container. Shake contents of ochazuke packet into container, mix impatiently with spoon/chopsticks/finger. Consume.
More civilized ochazuke for one:
- Fill the kettle. Get out your leftover rice. Put it in a bowl.
- While the kettle is boiling, throw a few flavour additions into the bowl: green onion, spinach, a bit of zucchini, fish (tinned, flaked or otherwise), bean sprouts, tofu, broccoli, Japanese pickles, whatever's on hand. Leftover stir-fry would do. Mind you won't be cooking this, so no raw potato or other hard vegetables.
- Make green tea or open ochazuke sachet (which seems to usually have, along with tea, seaweed, vegetable flakes, sesame seeds, and other such flavourings). Pour tea over rice. Season, if you like, with soy, sesame oil, whatever. Eat.
If I have more time, or if I've got someone with me, I do a little ochazuke smorgasbord, which I think is more authentic, considering the dish seems to be the traditional meal loving Japanese wives prepare for their drunken husbands' midnight snacks. The more elaborate, the more loving. It satisfies my need to dirty far too many dishes than necessary for a single meal, and also the Kitchen Nazi in me-- I have my food exactly the way I like it, without having to compromise with my eating companion's differing tastes. It's like assemble-it-yourself soup; given North Americans' obsession with Having It Their Way, I don't see why it hasn't taken off in cafeterias here. Ochazuke Smorgasbord Suggestions: Pickles -Takuan (pickled daikon, or, as it was called in a poorly translated Japanese novel I once read, "Giant white radish"). As making takuan is a difficult process involving drying, hanging, etc, I would suggest buying it at an Asian supermarket (you'll find it in the fridge section). I would also suggest avoiding the kind with added aspartame (this goes for pickled ginger, as well-- read labels!). Takuan is one of my favourite foods: sweet, sour, pungent, crunchy, fluorescent yellow. Slice into bite-sized chunks, in whatever shape appeals to your sense of aesthetics. Cucumber: an easy cucumber pickle is as follows. Slice long English or Japanese cucumbers lengthwise. Deseed if you want, but I usually don't. Sprinkle with salt to draw out the excess moisture. Leave for a few hours. Rinse very well with cold water and pat dry. Cut into little chunks. Dress with a mixture of rice wine vinegar, soy and sugar (heat it a bit to dissolve the sugar), in proportions that taste pleasant to you. I usually like 3:3:1 (ie 3 tablespoons of vinegar and soy to one tablespoon of sugar). Alternatively, try rice wine vinegar, lemon juice and sugar. These pickles will add a salty hit and crunch to your ochazuke. Green onion: spring onion, scallion, whatever. Some days I like them cut into rounds, other days, julienned. Egg: My favourite part! Make an omelette with an egg or two, then slice into strips and place on a plate. Drizzle with soy, sesame oil, yakisoba sauce, tonkatsu sauce, or leave plain. Artfully sculpted dollop of miso Toasted sesame seeds Green peas Cubed tofu And any or all of the ingredients from the one-person recipe, but put them on attractive little plates, providing an appealing contrast of colours, textures, and flavours. Leftover steak, thinly sliced, gives this a shabu-shabu/pho-ish feel. Add shredded nori, too, though if you don't have ochazuke flavour sachets, it's unlikely you'll have dried, roasted seaweed kicking around your pantry. Fill your bowls with the hard leftover rice, sprinkle on your seasonings, and add whatever you wish. Top up the bowl with hot tea. Stir around to let the rice soften and the flavours meld. Yum, yum. In a tight spot, plain hot water right from the kettle does work-- just oomph up the seasoning. If you can't find the ochazuke sachets, try rice seasoning, which, I think, is the same thing, in a bigger container. I prefer something called "yasai fumi furikake", which has something to do with vegetables ("yasai")-- "furikake" may mean "rice seasoning", I don't know. It's delicious, and it's good on rice, ochazuke'd or not.