5 dried shiitake mushrooms
1 (5-6 inch) piece of dried kombu
1 cup katsuobushi flakes (dried smoked bonito)
2 Tbsp kukicha green tea (or sub Japanese green tea)
Optional for more flavor, 4-5 niboshi (dried sardines)
2 Tbsp shio koji
2 Tbsp red miso (can use other miso as well, to your tastes)
4-6 (4oz) salmon fillets, skin on
2 Tbsp butter
1 bunch scallions, chopped, whites and greens separated
2 1/2 cups sushi rice
Salt and/or Smoked Salt N8
3-4 pieces of kirimochi, cut in half
1 lemon, halved, seeded, and cut into wedges
For the Kukicha Dashi Stock
In a large saucepot add the shiitake, kombu, if using, and 2 quarts of good water and bring to just below a boil, skimming any surface impurities. Allow to simmer for 10 minutes then remove the kombu and shiitake and set them aside. Add the katsuobushi and niboshi (if using), plus a few and turn off the heat. Let stand for 10 minutes then strain and set the solids aside.* Add the kukicha and let steep for 5 minutes, then strain once more and bring the stock up to just below a boil.
Poach the salmon fillets in the stock just until just set (about 60 seconds), then set them aside on a clean kitchen towel or paper towels.
Add the miso and shio koji to your stock and stir well to distribute.
* mottainai tip: finely chop the leftover kombu and fry in a dry skillet along with the katsuobushi. Once it all crisps up a bit, mix with soy sauce and sesame and continue to cook until dried. Allow to cool on a baking sheet and then use this topping on rice, pasta, and more.
For the Paella
Remove the stems from the rehydrated shiitake and set aside. Chop the caps into small pieces.
Preheat your grill (medium heat) and place a clean half sheet pan (9 x 13 in) on the grate. You'll want to make sure you also have space to cook the salmon and mochi so position the pan accordingly. Add the butter, scallions, and chopped shiitake caps to the center of the pan and cook, stirring occasionally, until the onions are translucent (about 5 minutes).
Add the stock to the pan, turn the burners to high, and allow it to come to a boil, stirring to distribute the ingredients. Carefully taste and adjust seasoning with salt or Smoked Salt.
Scatter the rice evenly across the sheet pan, using a spatula to break up any clumps, and cook for about 10 minutes.
Reduce the heat to medium low and cook until almost all of the liquid is absorbed (about 15 minutes).
At this point start toasting the mochi and searing the salmon on the grill. Start the mochi first, and when one side is done (about 3 minutes), flip them and start searing the salmon skin side down.
Remove the salmon pieces once the skin is crisp, placing them skin side up on the cooked rice. Turn off the heat and close the grill cover, letting the rice rest for 5 minutes and letting the residual heat cook the salmon to just set.
Scatter the roasted mochi over the rice and remove the whole pan to trivets on a table.
Garnish with scallion greens, shichimi or Yagenbori, nori strips, and dots of umeboshi paste or sumac.
You can eat this communally using wooden spoons so as not to scratch the pan, or serve in individual bowls. Provide lemon wedges and hon-wasabi for acidity and zest.
Variations & Ideas:
For an aromatic treat, try adding some salt-pickled cherry blossoms, or ground mahlab in the final few minutes of cooking.
Some optional garnishes: Japanese mayonnaise, Espelette, raw or grilled mentaiko (spiced salted pollock roe), trout or salmon caviar.
For another fun seafood topping, marinate whole squid in soy sauce and Noga N17 and grill for a couple minutes on each side over a hot flame.
A simple and fun treat that captures some of the flavors. Cook kirimochi on the stovetop (directly over a flame), or in a toaster oven (you can also microwave the pieces and they will puff and soften but they won't brown). Then wrap in seasoned nori and dip into a sauce made with dashi, soy sauce, and scallions.
Food images and recipe © Christian Leue.
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