Genmaicha green tea contains crunchy nubs of toasted rice that deepen both the color of the tea and its light, grassy flavor. When steeped, it takes on something close to the color of yellow jade. It's one of my favorite afternoon teas, and practically cried out to be the basis for a rice pilaf. Its gentle flavor combines with ginger and garlic to perfume the two colorful rices, Bhutan red and jasmine, to create a dish that is at once delicate, earthy, and elemental.
I've served this both hot and cold; it makes a lovely, delicate chilled salad in summer. Know that when done, the Bhutan red rice will have more texture to it than the Jasmine. Each bite you take will begin with that toothiness, then move through the tender jasmine rice, and finish with the mushroomy morsels of shiitakes. Finally, the spritz of lemon re-awakens the original genmaicha flavor, bringing your senses full circle. —boulangere
Test Kitchen Notes
The genmaicha green tea broth brims with toasty, savory notes, naturally enhancing the umami of earthy shiitake mushrooms and adding delicate depth to this warming pilaf dish. Aromatic citrus (opt for meyer lemons for a sweet, floral zest) and spicy ginger add bright nuance. Be sure to brew the tea in 180 degree water for 2 minutes to achieve the perfect flavor, and treat yourself to an extra cup to sip as everything gently simmers in the pot. —teaspoons&petals
In a glass or pottery mixing bowl (they retain heat well), pour the boiling water over the loose tea -- I measured it with the palm of one hand. Cover with a plate and allow to steep for 5 to 7 minutes. When you taste the tea, it should have a bright, clean flavor and aroma. Set a strainer over another bowl, or your original liquid measuring cup, and pour the tea through it. Discard the tea leaves.
Return the steeped tea to the bowl and add the dried shiitake mushrooms. Stir them around to immerse them, cover the bowl, and allow the mushrooms to steep for 15 minutes. Again pour the mixture through the strainer, reserving the mushrooms. NOW taste the tea! You'll of course recognize the flavor of the shiitakes, but that lingering tart flavor is the aromatic genmaicha. Its color is now closer to a glittering amber.
While the mushrooms are steeping, peel and mince the ginger and garlic. Begin warming a saucepan over medium heat. Add enough sesame oil to cover the bottom, about 2 to 3 tablespoons. When it begins to form ribbons, it is hot enough to go ahead and add the ginger and garlic. Sauté them until nicely fragrant, about 2 minutes, stirring now and then. Add the rices and stir to coat each grain with oil. Let them toast for a couple of minutes, then add the genmaicha-shiitake tea and the reserved shiitakes. Let the pot come to a gentle boil, then cover it and reduce the heat to a simmer. Cook for about 35 minutes, until the rices are tender, neither crunchy nor mushy.
Remove the pot from the heat and season the rice to taste with salt and pepper. Divide among plates or bowls. Serve with lemon wedges (use Meyer lemons if you have them) and chili oil so that guests may season as they wish.