One of my favorite dishes to eat during the spring is Tai Meshi (Sea Bream Rice), made in a donabe. I cook the rice with a whole Tai (sea bream), so it’s not only very flavorful but the dish is perfect for festivity. I usually cook this dish with my double-lid donabe rice cooker, Kamdo-san, but since the fish I got this time was much bigger than my 3 rice-cup size Kamado-san, I decided to make it in my large-size donabe (I used my donabe steamer, Mushi Nabe, without the steam grate). By bending its tail, I could barely fit it in my donabe! To garnish, kinome (sansho leaves) are typically used in Japan. But since it’s hard to find kinome here in LA, I used dill and it paired with the rice beautifully.
EquipmentClassic-style Donabe (2.5-qt/ 2,500 ml or larger)
If you are using double-lid donabe rice cooker, Kamado-san (3 rice-cup size or smaller), scale down the recipe amount by 1/3 or more.
Servings6 - 8
- 1 whole small sea bream (can substitute with sea bass), scaled and gutted (mine was about 1.5 lbs/ 700 g but it can be 2/3 of the size or smaller)
- 1 1/2 teaspoons sea salt
- 3 rice-cups (540 ml) short grain rice, rinsed
- 2 cups (480 ml) dashi or water
- 3 tablespoons sake
- 2 tablespoons usukuchi shoyu (light-color soy sauce)
- 1 piece (about 2” x 4”/ 5 cm x 10 cm) kombu, soak in above dashi or water until soft
- 1.5 oz (50 g) ginger, cut into very fine shreds
- 4 – 6 medium shiitake mushrooms, sliced into 1/4” (6 mm) thick
- Some dill for garnish (optional)
- Season the fish all over with 1 teaspoon sea salt. Let rest for 30 min and pat dry with paper towel.
- Combine the rice, dashi, sake, usukuchi shoyu and the remaining salt in a donabe. Let the rice soak for 20 minutes.
- (Optional process) Wrap the tail of the fish with aluminum, cut a few incisions with a knife on the skin of the fish and broil with a torch just until the skin is lightly browned (but not cooked through).
- Spread the ginger over the rice, followed by the shiitake, in even layers. Place the kombu on top and gently place the fish over the kombu.
- Cover the donabe with a lid and set over high heat. Once the contents starts boiling (6 – 8 minutes), turn down the heat to low and cook for 12 – 14 minutes or until the rice absorbs all the liquid. (If using Kamado-san, follow its standard rice cooking method.)
- Turn off the heat and let it stand for 20 minutes.
- Uncover and gently debone the fish, and fluff with the rice. Serve into individual bowls and garnish with some dill if you like.
My fish was really large, so I had to bend the tail to let it fit. If your fish is too large to fit your donabe, you can cut off the head also.
The rice and fish cooked together perfectly. The aroma is very nice, too.
After the fish is deboned and the head is removed, the fish is mixed with the rice.