Japanese Rice with Sesame Salt and Celery

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Serves 6 | start to finish: 30 minutes (or if soaking the rice, 1 hour)

CF8_riceA little extra care and forethought goes into cooking good Japanese rice, but the exquisite result makes the extra steps worth it. Rinsing the rice several times gives the grains a glossy finish, with a barely sticky consistency. Soaking the rice in advance makes it tender, but not mushy. Stirring the rice to release excess steam after cooking also helps to prevent mushiness. With a little practice, preparing rice this way becomes easy.

Sesame salt (gomashio in Japanese) serves as a nutritious and savory seasoning, both in Japanese cuisine and also in Macrobiotic diets. According to Macrobiotic principles, sesame seeds with rice provide a complete protein. While a bowl of rice with sesame salt can create a simple pleasure all its own, the refreshing crunch of diced celery adds a satisfying complement to the dish.

1 1/2 cups medium-grain rice, such as Calrose
1/2 cup white and/or black sesame seeds
1 1/2 teaspoons sea salt
1/2 teaspoon sugar
5 stalks celery

Rinse the rice in three changes of cold water, swishing it with your hands, until the water is clear. Drain the rice and follow the package directions for cooking. After measuring the rice and water in the pot, let the rice soak in the water for 30 minutes before cooking it (if time permits). Once the rice is cooked, stir it in a lifting and folding pattern with a rice paddle or large spoon to release excess steam. Cover until ready to serve.

Meanwhile, toast the sesame seeds in a small non-stick or well-seasoned pan, stirring occasionally over medium heat for 5 minutes, or until the seeds are slightly toasted. Add the salt and toast for 1 minute more. Pour the seeds into a small bowl, stir in the sugar, and let the mixture cool. If desired, grind half of the mixture in a mortar and pestle or a clean spice grinder, and mix it back into the bowl.

Chop the celery into 1/4-inch dice.

To serve, place a half-cup of rice into a small bowl or bento, and sprinkle with the celery and the sesame salt.

gluten-free ● vegetarian ● vegan ● dairy free


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