I once had a very close friend. I say “once” because she had passed away. We had met through pottery making and she was near my mothers’ age, but we were very close. Not only we made potteries together, we went out on small trips every once in a while, until one day, we find out she had cancer. She always called me on her way to her chemo and we would chat and laugh over the phone. When she reaches the hospital she always thanked me for helping her from not thinking about the pain that was to come. She was so energetic, so creative and had inspired me in so many ways. One of the things she inspired me and what I still follow, is this recipe; SAKURA GOHAN.
At this time of the year, when the cherry blossoms start blooming, she would pick the blossoms and salt them. With the salted cherry blossoms, she always prepared us this SAKURA GOHAN/ cherry blossom rice. I remember how I was taken away with the pretty little blossoms in the rice and was so excited when she told me they were salted herself. Ever since then, I try picking cherry blossoms and salting them, whenever I have a chance. (I still have her cherry blossoms in my freezer, even after 17 years since she passed away)
She never kept a recipe for the rice, and so it is not exactly the same as her’s, but no matter how good or bad, I always remember her when I cook this recipe.
So here’s a recipe dedicated to my dear friend, Michiko-san. Hope she likes it too!
INGREDIENTS (serves 3 to 4):
|150g / 1 GO*||glutenous rice|
|150g / 1 GO*||sticky rice|
|25g||salted cherry blossoms|
|5 cm||KOMBU (dried kelp) [can do without if not available]|
|380 ml **||water|
|1 tsp||SAKE (cooking liquor) [can do without if not available]|
* GO=Japanese rice measuring cup
1 GO = about 180 ml
** If cooking in a pot. Otherwise, specified amount of water marked on the rice cooker pot.
- Rinse glutinous rice and non-glutinous rice (a). Drain through a sieve (b).
- Transfer drained rice in a bowl or rice cooker pot. Place a piece of dried kelp, salted cherry blossoms (with all of its salt) , add SAKE and water. Let it sit for at least an hour for the rice to soak in kelp and cherry blossom flavor (c).
- Remove all of cherry blossoms, reserve 20 blossoms as toppers and cut up the rest into smaller pieces (d).
- Mix the cut up cherry blossoms into the rice and cook (You can cook with or without the kelp) by starting the rice cooker or by placing the covered pot over high heat and bringing to boil. Once the pot is boiling and steaming, reduce heat to low and cook for another 10 to 15 minutes (depending on your pot). Turn off the heat and let sit for about 10 minutes for the rice to settle.
- Stir and mix gently (untangle the rice!) with a wet rice paddle or wooden spoon, top with reserved cherry blossoms and serve.
Spring is here!
READY TO COOK ??
You can shop everything you need from below to create the recipe in your kitchen.
You can find the links to the more commonly used, more widely available food ingredients here but if you wish for something organic or more authentic, please refer to “About Ingredients” page.