No one does breakfast better than the Japanese. Roasted salmon, mackerel, miso soup, pickled vegetables, steaming hot rice, egg custard…I could go on. Nothing is fried, almost nothing has sugar and almost everything on the plate is solid energy.
A traditional Japanese set breakfast is a beautiful affair. I had an amazing one at a bed and breakfast in Kyoto called Ishihara. The same bed and breakfast that Akria Kurosawa frequented during his lifetime. Rumor has it that part of Rashomon was written here.
Here’s baby me at Ishihara drinking out of Kurosawa’s tea cup:
Back in reality, a full Japanese breakfast is hard to replicate. There’s also a lot of prep work involved, not to mention the dishes. If you want a real Japanese breakfast experience I HIGHLY recommend you try En Brasserie in the West Village. It’s a cavernous restaurant with traditional and hearty Japanese food. They do a Japanese brunch that is truly out of this world. It’s not cheap though.
For something a bit more manageable, I’ve created this simple rice bowl with edamame beans and salmon. There’s pure protein from the edamame and salmon, plus energy from the rice. Health freaks: please don’t shy away from fluffy sushi rice, brown rice just won’t do in this dish. I made this dish with leftover salmon from last night’s dinner but I’ve included a simple recipe for roasted salmon. You can easily make all the ingredients the night before and simply mix it all together in the morning. Don’t be afraid of screwing up the sushi rice. If you follow my recipe exactly, you will have perfect rice even if you use a shitty pot. There are two things you need for perfect sushi rice: a pot with a tight-fitting lid and the will power not to touch the lid while the rice is cooking.
Japanese Power Breakfast with Salmon and Edamame
You will need:
1/2 lb. thick salmon filet
1 teaspoon Togarashi (Japanese red pepper) or regular pepper
1/2 teaspoon coarse salt
1 cup frozen edamame beans in their shells
1 cup high quality sushi rice
1 teaspoon miso paste
1 teaspoon rice vinegar
1 teaspoon sesame oil
1 teaspoon lime juice
1. Place the salmon filet on a baking tray coated in aluminum foil skin side down. If there is no skin on your filet, put a little oil on the foil. Coat the salmon in togarashi (or black pepper) and salt. Broil the salmon for 8 minutes so that scorch marks appear. The fish should be very very close to the flame. Turn off the broiler and let the salmon rest in the hot oven for another 3 minutes, then set aside.
2. Make the sushi rice by combining 1 cup of rice with 1 cup + 2 tablespoons of cold water in a medium-sized pot with a tight-fitting lid. Cook over high heat until the water boils, the pot lid will start to shake. As soon as it boils, without removing the lid, turn the heat down to a simmer and cook for 15 minutes. DO NOT TOUCH THE LID AT ANY POINT. After 15 minutes, remove the pot from the stove and allow the rice to steam off the flame for another 5 minutes without removing the lid. Finally remove the lid and fan the rice slightly to release steam, then replace the lid until you’re ready to use the rice.
3. Boil 4 cups of water in a small saucepan and cook the edamame for 5 minutes or according to the package instructions. Drain and quickly run under cold water. Remove the beans from the pod and set aside.
4. In a medium-sized bowl, whisk the miso, rice vinegar, sesame oil and lime juice. Add the salmon filet and edamame beans and mash gently with a fork.
5. It’s likely that a layer of rice stuck to the bottom, that’s okay just leave it. Use a wooden spoon to remove about 1 1/2 cups of cooked rice from the pot and divide between two bowls. Spoon 1/2 of the salmon edamame mixture into each bowl and serve with sesame seeds if you wish.
You might also enjoy these recipes from the archives: