Six years into his run at Makoto Restaurant, a partnership with Stephen Starr at Bal Harbour Shops, Chef Makoto Okuwa still gets excited about new dishes he creates. Like his Shake Ochazuke. The traditional Japanese comfort food stars a grilled salmon fillet atop brown rice and fresh vegetables, all swimming in a shallow pool of hot dashi spiked with soothing green tea. Makoto, ever generous with his art, shares his restaurant techniques and tips for making the dish at home.
Why add Shake Ochazuke to the menu at Makoto?
“In Japan, where I’m from, people eat this after a night of drinking or as a late-night dinner. It’s a Japanese-style complete meal: starch, vegetable, soup and protein in one dish! My goal is to introduce my country’s food culture to our guests.”
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What are your tips for cooking salmon?
“I always cook this salmon to medium doneness. At the restaurant, we cook it over charcoal with the skin on. The harder the heat hits the skin, the better flavor you’ll get. Cooking with the skin on is critical. The umami from the skin flavors the rest of the fish. Then at the end we remove the skin and replace it with toasted nori, which looks like crispy skin but it doesn’t impart such a fishy element to the dish.”
How did you come up with the Green Tea Dashi for this dish?
“My favorite way to eat ochazuke is just by pouring hot green tea over the salmon, rice and vegetables. But I wanted to create a more complex flavor for the menu at Makoto. So we added the dashi blend with the green tea, which makes it more flavorful and soup-like.”
What’s the most important step of this recipe?
“You have to pour the broth when it’s very hot. If the dashi is not hot enough, you’ll enjoy it half as much!”
Makoto Restaurant at Bal Harbour Shops, 9700 Collins Avenue, Bal Harbour; 305-864-8600; makotorestaurant.me.
Recipe: Shake Ochazuke (Salmon with Green Tea Dashi)
Makes 2 servings
2 (6-ounce) salmon fillets, skin-on
2 tablespoons ponzu sauce
2 tablespoons butter mixed with fresh shiso
1 cup beets or other seasonal vegetables, quartered
2 cups Green Tea Dashi (see recipe)
1 cup cooked brown rice
2 1/2 teaspoons kizami (chopped) wasabi
2 sheets toasted nori
1/4 cup microgreens or fresh herbs
For Green Tea Dashi:
3 tablespoons loose-leaf green tea
3 tablespoons bonito flakes
5 cups dashi
2 1/2 teaspoons lemon juice
1 1/2 teaspoons soy sauce
1 1/4 teaspoons salt
- Season the salmon with salt and pepper and place on a grill over indirect heat. Baste with ponzu sauce while cooking, about 7-9 minutes, depending on thickness. Finish with shiso butter before assembling rest of the dish.
- While salmon is cooking, bring a pot of water to a boil. Add a generous amount of salt, then blanch the vegetables. Remove from water.
- Meanwhile, make the Green Tea Dashi: Combine green tea and bonito flakes in a tea bag or tea strainer, and place in an empty tea pot. Heat the dashi to just below boiling, 195 degrees, then pour it into the tea pot with the tea bag. Add lemon juice, soy sauce and salt, and allow to steep.
- Place the brown rice in a bowl, and top with kizami wasabi. Arrange the blanched vegetables next to the rice. Remove skin from the salmon fillets and replace it with the toasted nori sheets. Place salmon on top of the rice. Pour Green Tea Dashi as desired. Garnish with microgreens.
Notes: Adapted from a recipe by Chef Makoto Okuwa of Makoto Restaurant in Bal Harbour. Ingredients like ponzu, shiso, kizami wasabi, nori, bonito flakes and dashi are available at Miami-area Asian markets or online.