Ochazuke is a simple, one-bowl Japanese dish typically made with leftover rice steeped with hot water, broth, or green tea. In this recipe, I put my own twist by incorporating Wild Alaska Pollock surimi seafood in both the dashi and the topping. You might recognize it as imitation crab, but the surimi seafood I used here is anything but: This flavorful, sustainable protein is made from real, wild-caught Wild Alaska Pollock, which is high in vitamin B12 and omega-3 fatty acids; it also happens to be a versatile (and tasty) substitute for shellfish and tuna in salads, sandwiches, rice bowls, and more.
Unlike other dashis or stocks, this recipe saves the ingredients that get strained out and repurposes them. The light and delicate flavors of the surimi, along with aromatics like garlic and onion, are infused into the dashi first. Then, once they’re removed, they get set aside and pan-fried for a crispy, protein-rich ochazuke topping. To bring even more flavor to the dish, I like to finish my bowl with a sprinkle of aji nori furikake (a roasted sesame and seaweed seasoning), chopped scallions, and tangy pickled ginger on the side, but wasabi and bubu arare (tiny Japanese rice crackers) would also make delicious garnishes. —Catherine Yoo
Test Kitchen Notes
This recipe is shared in partnership with Genuine Alaska Pollock Producers. —The Editors
- Prep time 20 minutes
- Cook time 50 minutes
- Serves 4
(1 package) Wild Alaska Pollock surimi seafood, roughly torn
garlic cloves, peeled and smashed
small yellow onion
kombu, about 5x5 inches
soy sauce, divided
sesame oil, divided
aji nori furikake, plus more for garnish
baby bok choy (about 6 ounces), halved
medium carrots (about 6 ounces), thinly sliced
cooked short-grain white rice, divided
Fresh scallions, thinly sliced
Pickled sushi ginger
- Make the dashi: Fill a large pot with 2 quarts of water and add the surimi, garlic, onion, kombu, and 1 teaspoon soy sauce. Bring the surimi dashi to a boil, then simmer for at least 30 minutes.
- Strain the dashi into another pot, reserving the surimi, garlic, and onion on the side; discard the kombu. Let the surimi, garlic, and onion cool until you’re able to handle it. Once cooled, slice the onion and garlic, and roughly chop the surimi. Meanwhile, simmer the strained dashi on low heat.
- Prepare the topping: To a large sauté pan set over medium-high heat, add 1 teaspoon of sesame oil, plus the sliced onion and garlic. Sauté until fragrant and the onion and garlic starts to brown, about 3 minutes. To the same pan, add the remaining sesame oil, the neutral oil, ½ teaspoon soy sauce, and half of the chopped surimi. Pan-fry until the surimi turns crispy and golden-brown, about 6 minutes. Place the pan-fried surimi in a bowl, then repeat with the remaining surimi and soy sauce. Once finished, add the second batch of pan-fried surimi to the bowl. Season with 2 tablespoons of the aji nori furikake and toss until well combined.
- Bring the simmering dashi to a boil over high heat. Once boiling, add the carrots and bok choy, and cook for 2 to 3 minutes; the vegetables should be cooked, but still have a nice crunch to them.
- Assemble the ochazuke: Fill a serving/soup bowl with 1 cup of rice. Next, add about 1 ½ cups of dashi along with some of the bok choy and carrots. Top the rice with a generous portion of the pan-fried surimi and garnish with extra furikake and scallions. Repeat with the remaining 3 bowls and serve with pickled sushi ginger on the side, if you’d like.