Farm Fresh Mashed Potato and Butter Bean Cakes with Green Onion

August – hot, muggy, unbearable across the mid-Atlantic coast.  What does the entire populace do?  Migrate down Hwy’s 158 and 12 to the Outer Banks, NC on a weekly basis to enjoy beautiful weather and the cooling ocean and Pamlico Sound.  What do I do?

Our Outer Banks neighborhood, Surf or Sound in Frisco, NC

Our Outer Banks neighborhood, Surf or Sound in Frisco, NC

Fly 5 hours from California, where the beach is only 20 minutes away, max.  Why do I do it? One word – family is everything.  And it’s pretty darn gorgeous out there, nothing like west coast beaches.

During this weekly migration, the highways get pretty backed up, especially on Saturday’s.  One great way to take a break is to stop at one of the many farmer’s markets.  These markets are literally in middle of farm fields that surround all the highways.  It doesn’t get fresher than this!

Grandy Greenhouse Farm Market Butter Beans

Grandy Greenhouse Farm Market Butter Beans

And what is one to do when a bag of freshly shelled butter beans (aka baby lima beans)?  Buy it and figure out what to make with them later, which is exactly what I did.  I looked at a bunch of recipes, but settled on potato and bean cakes with green onion for an appetizer.  Who doesn’t like a fried potato cake?!

This recipe from couldn’t be easier.  It was a great little snack before the delicious mean of grilled greek chicken and lemony orzo pasta salad my cousin’s wife made.  The recipe called for canned beans, but I one upped them and

All mashed up

All mashed up

had fresh.  In order to make them a little closer to the creamy texture of the potato, I par boiled the beans for a few minutes then shocked them in a bowl of ice water.

Coated in panko and ready to fry. In olive oil of course. That's healthy right?

Coated in panko and ready to fry. In olive oil of course. That’s healthy right?

If I was in my own kitchen, I would’ve added some hot sauce into the mash mixture as well.  The onions gave it a little zing, but it still could’ve used a little assist.  Unfortunately, we were in the middle of no where and hot sauce wasn’t in the cabinet so I went without.










Recipe from (


  • 1 1/4 pounds russet potatoes, peeled, cut into 3/4-inch cubes
  • 1/2 cup whole milk
  • 2 tablespoons (1/4 stick) butter
  • 1 15-ounce can butter beans, drained, coarsely mashed or (Fresh, par boiled)
  • 4 green onions, chopped
  • 1 1/2 cups panko (Japanese breadcrumbs) or fresh breadcrumbs
  • Extra-virgin olive oil (for frying)


Cook potatoes in large pot of boiling salted water until tender, about 10 minutes. Drain and return to pot; stir over medium heat until dry, about 1 minute. Add milk and butter; mash. Mix in mashed beans and green onions. Season with salt and pepper; cool 15 minutes.

Place panko in large bowl. Drop 1/4 cupfuls potato mixture into panko; turn to coat. Coat bottom of 2 large nonstick skillets with oil; heat over medium heat. Divide potato cakes between skillets. Using spatula, flatten each potato cake to 2-inch round. Fry until golden, about 5 minutes per side.

And if all else fails, drink Pimm’s cups with your sisters!!!  🙂

Pimm's cups anyone?! Delicious and refreshing

Pimm’s cups anyone?! Delicious and refreshing




Your appetizer - ready to eat!  Now where is that hot sauce??

Your appetizer – ready to eat! Now where is that hot sauce??






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Baked chicken chile verde stuffed poblanos

I’m keeping the theme rolling for yesterday and will not be behind anymore.   And in keeping with that theme, I got a new pair of running shoes in the mail today when I got home from work and went for a run…no more big behind!  Har har, right?!

Yesterday I posted about the roasted tomatillo and poblano salsa verde.  Tonight’s catch up is what I did with it.  This post is only a month an a half late.  My apologies to those who were waiting for it.

I am fascinated with the idea of chile rellenos, but can never skin the pepper enough with leaving the flesh intact or get the breading right without making a greasy fried mess.  Well, with the next batch of garden fresh poblanos I was ready to get rid of those fears.  Well, at least one.  I could do without the frying.

Step one of this process was to take some chicken thighs, put then in the slow cooker and cover them with a jar of the roasted tomatillo and poblano salsa verde, add some whole cumin and coriander, turn it to low, cover and go to work.  When I got home, the chicken was fall apart  tender delicious.  I shredded the thighs and put them back into the salsa and juices.  Yum.

Next was blistering the peppers.  I did them under the broiler on a sheet pan, turning them a few times until they were charred but not too charred, putting them into a bowl covered with plastic wrap next, to cool and steam.   The skin came off great while keeping the peppers intact!

I was kind of winging it this time and remembered some jalapeño poppers I made that weren’t deep fried (a Emeril Lagasse recipe of all things), so I decided to take the same approach with the poblanos.

I stuffed the poblanos with the chicken chile verde and set them all on a tray and got my dishes ready for the pepper coating.    One had scrambled eggs, the next had some flour with a little smoked paprika, salt and pepper stirred in, and the next had panko break crumbs.  I dregged each stuffed pepper first in the flour, then the egg, then the panko crumbs making sure it was coated well.  After all the peppers were coated, I put them in a baking dish sprayed with a little cooking spray.   I sprinkled a little more smoked paprika on top and popped them into a 350 degree oven for about 30 minutes, or until the crust was golden.    BEST NON DEEP FRIED NO CHEESE CHILE RELLENOS EVER!!

Baked chicken chile verde chile rellenos

Baked chicken chile verde chile rellenos

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Roasted tomatillo and Poblano Salsa

I’m behind.  Way behind.  Specifically on keeping this blog up to date, but being behind isn’t a new thing to me.

I will never forget the grand dame of engineering mathematics, Professor Vera Granlund, once infamously (well to me at least) said that as long as she had known me I was always playing catch up.  She was not a woman to take for granted either, regardless of the fact that she wore a sun dress year round, accompanied by a cardigan when it was cold.  She was a human calculator in the era when it was still thought women couldn’t “do math”.    Everyone who went through the UVA School of Engineering and Applied Sciences for several decades, definitely in the 80’s and 90’s had her for calculus.  I had her for 4 semesters of it.  And then some.   One of our “math labs”,  where she was known for standing in front of you saying, “Well get your pencil moving!  Math is not going to do itself!!” conflicted with my Naval R.O.T.C drill period.    Her solution:   one on one with Professor Granlund and me in her office.  It was terrifying.  I’m pretty sure she resented me for having to spend the extra time with an individual student, but understood my commitment to becoming an officer so she did it.   The “always behind” comment in front of my classmates was her way of revenge.  In retrospect, I was privileged to have such attention from such a pioneer and smart woman!

This blog isn’t about my college memories, nor math.  It is about the food I cook and eat and I’ve got tons of food porn sitting on my laptop, waiting to be lovingly written about and posted.    I’ve resolved to do my best to not be behind in this endeavor and write more.  It counter balances that “engineering thing” I still have going on.  Oh…that and cooking more.   Always more cooking.

Through those puppies in the oven to roast up!

Through those puppies in the oven to roast up!

This one is a no brainer.  Got poblanos?  Got tomatillos?  Make roasted tomatillo and poblano salsa!!  It’s easy as throwing then on a sheet pan, roasting, cooling, blending, seasoning and eating.   Makes a great gift too!

The roasted veggies, ready to be made into salsa

The roasted veggies, ready to be made into salsa

Roasted Tomatillo and Poblano Salsa

  • 4 small poblano chiles, halved lengthwise
  • 2 jalapeño chiles, stems removed and halved lengthwise
  • 24 fresh tomatillos, husks removed
  • 2 tablespoons canola oil, divided
  • 4 garlic cloves, coarsely chopped
  • 1 white onion, quartered
  • 2 small bunches fresh cilantro, trimmed and coarsely chopped
  • 1 teaspoon salt


  1. Place peppers, tomatillos, garlic, onion on a large rimmed baking sheet. Drizzle with 1 tablespoon oil, turning to coat with a wide spatula. Place peppers cut side down, and broil vegetables 15 minutes or until charred, turning tomatillos but not peppers. Remove from oven; set aside and cool
  2. Process roasted vegetables and accumulated juices in food processor until finely chopped; pour into skilled or deep sauce dish and add 1 1/2 cups water. Bring mixture to a boil; reduce heat, and simmer 10 minutes. Stir in cilantro and salt. Cool completely; cover and chill.




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Whole Wheat No Knead Bread

Yesterday was a warm one. The kind of day that is super good for rising bread without having to turn an oven on to get that temperature that makes the yeast eat up those sugars and produce gas that produces a nice puffy dough. It was a genius plan, so it seemed in the morning.20130901-081214.jpg Until I had to turn on the oven to full tilt boogie at 8:30 pm, when the house was already in overdrive baking mood and my little window unit wasn’t hacking it. I had to proceed though, or my dough would have gone to waste. I bit the bullet, and this is what I was rewarded with – yummy, taste, 100 percent whole wheat, organic home made bread! And a delicious breakfast next morning as well. My brother and sister-in-laws kumquat jam was perfect on it.
I’ve made no knead bread before, but wanted to try it with whole wheat. I picked up a bag of Rob’s Red mill organic whole wheat at Sprout’s the other week so I decided to go for it. My first attempt was 1 for 1 replacing whole for the white wheat in the normal recipe. Not so much…. Can you say brick of bread? So I did some research and found this link:

Brilliant! It works like a champ and is super easy and delicious. Give it a shot!! And if you are having a lazy day like I was yesterday (think heat and small ac unit), just producing a beauty of a loaf like totally makes up for all that other unproductiveness!!!!


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Blanco de verano

Inspired by a recent trip to Spain, a find at the local market on Hatteras Island, and “vacation time” -where every hour is cocktail hour – I present to you the latest drink recipe that is sure to be all the craze for the rest of the summer: BLANCO DE VERANO!! My first boozey post! Ok, my first post about booze…there may have been a few posts inspired by booze. Just saying. Creative juices and all.


Spain is known for sangria, but an even more refreshing beverage when the temperature soars is “tinto de verano”. Sangria, fortified with brandy among other things, can really throw one for a loop in the heat. Tinto de verano, a much more palatable version when the outdoor oven is cookin, is a mixture of half tinto (red table wine) and half Casero, a Spanish lemon lime soda – all served over a generous amount of ice with a wedge of citrus thrown in. It is delicious!

My version began when I fortuitously set an impulse purchase of San Pelegrino Pomelo soda next to some chilled bottles of Pinot Grigio on the counter before a family beach time dinner. I had a guinea pig who was willing to try out my experiment, aka flash-of-genius: San Pelegrino and white wine spritzer, aka Blanco de verano. A new summer drink was born! Well, at least in my world… I was going to name it Bianco di estate due to the origin of the ingredients, but the Spanish name flows much better, not to mention it is the source of inspiration. The tasting proceeded, and the Pomelo soda with its grapefruit flavor proved to pair well with the fruity, dry notes of the Pinot Grigio. Throw in a few mint leaves for garnish and extra taste zest and enjoy!!


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Pick-up Paella

I’m going to get some grief from some by calling this a paella.  It’s not the paella that people think of with the beautiful prawns and mussels you’d find by the ocean.  It’s not paella valenciana you’d find in Valencia with rabbit and broad beans.  It’s not your mother or your father’s paella.   It was a more like a “this is what I have in the fridge and garden right now” type of paella.  So by that measure, it’s a paella.  And it should keep me eating for a while this week.

Bringing the broth up to a boil.  This is going to be good!

Bringing the broth up to a boil. This is going to be good!

I had yellow and green beans, some cherry tomatoes, and my first two zucchini of the year sitting on the counter, waiting to be eaten.  After watching a PBS series (“Spain…On the Road again) that I had rented on my new AppleTV, in specific the episode on Valencia and paella, I was a little inspired.  Ok, let’s be real – I just had a craving.  Combine that with some organic short grain brown rice from Costco I had picked up the other week that is supposed to be good for paella, it was a fait accompli that I’d be making a paella.

Ok, so I didn’t have the wood burning fire out in Albufera Spain, where the bomba rice comes from but I had a paella pan and I was going to cook!  Side geek note: bomba rice is famous for being able to absorb 3-4 times it volume in liquid thus taking in your flavors of the broth.  The rice is the thing, with what you use to flavor the broth just acting as supporting characters.

I will also tell you I had a type of sofrito already ready in the freezer.  The last big paella go, I had left over sweet bell peppers and onion and made somewhat of an pepper onion soup with saffron and broth in it.  After I cooked some chicken breast (thighs would have been better, but again what I had in the kitchen was breast meat) that had been marinated in garlic, smoked paprika, and olive oil, I put the thawed sofrito in the center and cooked it down with some grated tomato.  After it cooked down to a dark red, I added the veggies and filled the pan with organic chicken broth.  When it came to a boil, I tasted for seasoning and adjusted with salt and cracked pepper.  Then I sprinkled in 400 g of the short grain brown rice and brought it to a rapid boil.

After the liquid cooked down, I could hear the crackling which meant the socarrat (the lovely carmelized crust on the bottom) was forming.  When that happened for a few minutes, I turned the heat off and covered it to let it rest for 10 minutes.   I didn’t have peas in it. I didn’t have fancy piquillo pepper garnish. I didn’t have parsley…but it didn’t matter.  The result was still delish and was definitely work calling paella(esque).

A paella (more or less!)

A paella (more or less!)


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Spanish Potato and Green Bean Salad

What to bring to a housewarming barbeque after recently returning from Spain earlier in the week?  Something Spanish flavored of course.  But to write about it?  It would run the risk of comparing it to the marvelous food that I blogged about on it’s own page (Todo sobre mi comida).  No, not comparing it…but perhaps breaking the spell that the country of Spain, it’s food, and most importantly the people cast on me every time I go to visit.    This was a thing I did not break, and find it harder to do every time I go.  So I made the potato salad and let them sit in my computer while I reminisced, that is until I was shamed into writing through a simple inquisition from Spain.  So start writing again I must!

"The Science of Cooking"  end all potato salad reference

“The Science of Cooking” end all potato salad reference

I came home to an overflowing garden, one of the crops being green beans of the green, purple, and yellow varieties – they were definitely going to have to go in whatever dish I prepared.  And I MIGHT have picked up some potatoes to make tortilla española, so potato salad it was to be.  And any spanish potato salad would have to have garlic and smoked paprika in it.  And extra virgin olive oil, from Spain of course.  It was good that I just happened to have a bottle of it in my house.

Peeled and cubed, ready to be boiled in cold water.

Peeled and cubed, ready to be boiled in cold water.

I blanched the beans and then shocked them in ice water, while the potatoes were being cooked.  It was a little bit of a bummer that the the purple beans turned green when they were blanched, but they were going to work in any case.  As a little bit of a side note, I finally got to use my “Science of Cooking” cookbook by Cook’s Illustrated.  They had over 20 pages on potato salad and the preferred techniques.  Bottom line, if you want a potato salad with potatoes that absorb the dressing, like I did, cube the potatoes and boil them in cold water.  They cook quicker, more evenly, and will absorb all that dressing – scientifically proven!

Beans fresh from the garden!

Beans fresh from the garden!

Shocking the beans (notice the purple has gone green)

Shocking the beans (notice the purple has gone green)

To make the dressing, I tossed the garlic, sherry vinegar, oil, salt, pepper, anchovies,  and smoked paprika into the blender and whipped it up until it was all incorporated.  Mix that with the slightly warm potatoes, the green beans, and some diced multi-colored bell peppers, capers, and red onion and you have the only potato salad I will ever make again!!!  ¡Buen provecho!

The dressing done in the blender

The dressing done in the blender

(Note:  I lie.  I want to make another potato salad soon – the traditional Spanish ensala rusa.  Oh.  And there will be the luau’s potato/mac salad of course.)

The final product!  I almost forgot to take a picture, but snapped a quick on at the party.

The final product! I almost forgot to take a picture, but snapped a quick on at the party.

Spanish Potato and Green Bean Sala


  • 5lb russet potatoes in 1/2 cubes
  • 3 bay leaves
  • 1lb green beans cut 2 inch long
  • 1 yellow pepper diced
  • 1 red pepper diced
  • 1 orange pepper diced
  • 1/2 cup red onion diced
  • 1/4 cup capers drained
  • 2 cloves of garlic chopped
  • 1 cup EVOO (extra virgin olive oil)
  • 1/3 cup red wine vinegar
  • 1 tsp smoked paprika
  • Salt & pepper to taste
  • 3 anchovy filets (optional)
  • 1/2 cup chives or scallions for garnish


Boil potatoes with bay leaves & salt until tender. When the potatoes are done cool them under running cold water. Steam or boil beans for a few minutes. Make sure beans are not overcooked. Cool beans under cold water. In a blender or small food processor blend garlic, vinegar, oil, salt, pepper & smoked paprika (add also anchovies desired) to make the dressing. Once potatoes & beans are cool enough, toss with rest of ingredients & dressing. Refrigerate salad for at least one hour before serving.

Garnish with chopped chives or chopped scallions.

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Monday night Padrons

It’s hot out. Well, all things considered not THAT hot. It’s not Death Valley hot. It’s not even El Cajon hot. Ok it’s just kind of warm and I don’t have a/c in my house. And there was no way my oven was going on, but the grill? Yes, the grill!

I had some salmon fillets that I picked up at the store that needed to be cooked. (Fresh and Easy is carrying wild caught, skin on, never frozen pacific salmon. I couldn’t resist!) So I fired up that grill, and made a quick marinade for the salmon. Soy sauce, garlic, chili bean paste, and agave syrup does wonders for a fillet!

But this post is not about the salmon. It’s about what happened before the salmon. My mind wandered, I was hungry, normally danger would ensue. (Read a bag of chips and salsa). My eyes spied the garden and padron peppers and I had a far far superior plan!

After washing the peppers up, I dried them off and tossed them with olive oil. Right on the grill, padrons cook up quick. Turn them until the are blistered, 4-5 minutes tops, and then sprinkle with sea or kosher salt once they are on a plate.

Padrons are great Spanish pepper variety. Picked around 1-1.5″ long they are very mild, but some of them pack a punch. It’s like pepper Russian roulette. I love them! Way better then the inferior shishto variety that seem to be languishing in my garden.

If you don’t have a grill, pan fry them, but either way – buy these at the store, plant a plant, and eat them!

And in review, I seem to be repeating myself in these posts….padrón peppers, tortilla, padrón, tortilla…. It’s ok. I just really like em. 🙂


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There is more than ONE kind of tortilla?!?!

Typical for me, I started my Saturday morning off making a tortilla española.  For anyone who’s been following my blog for any length of time, you will know I’m a big fan of these.  I make them for myself on the weekend and then nosh on them all week long.  If you’ve been to my house for a dinner, you might have had one for an appetizer, cut up into little bite size squares so you can pop into your mouth with the aide of a toothpick and a swish and gulp of your drink.

Gently cooking the potato and onion - almost a confit of potato.

Gently cooking the potato and onion – almost a confit of potato.

I’ve been asked, “Is it always just potato, onion, and egg?” or been told “It needs green in it”, the later statement (order?) made by a certain chef friend.  I always make that same face though when confronted with those propositions: wrinkled nose and brow, questioning why I would want to ruin something so simple and so perfect.   After all, it IS a tortilla española…there is nothing else in it but potato, onion, and egg by definition.  And it was the only tortilla I really ever had growing up as a kid in Southern Spain.

The finished product - tortilla de patata y col rizada

The finished product – tortilla de patata y col rizada


Recently I was forced to confront a truth that was contrary to my reality though.  Shocking, eh?  I was back east in Virginia on a work trip and was spending the night at my parents house.  We had a few minutes before meeting the rest of the family for dinner and I spotted a cookbook on my parents shelf by Penelope Casas.  This one was “Tapas – the Little Dishes of Spain”.  I know of Penelope’s books, as my parents have many of them, speak her praises,  and have even given me one as well – “¡Delicioso! The Regional Cooking of Spain”.   Her recipes are great and very authentic.   I started flipping through the well used tapas cookbook, looking at the pages that had sticky notes I assumed indicated things they cooked a lot and/or liked.  I found some gems that I had to have, so I started snapping pictures of the pages with my iPhone – marinated mussels in a vinaigrette, boiled potato, tuna, and egg salad, and those little yummy sandwiches I remember eating in Sevilla on my last trip (montaditos and pringas).

Then I stumbled across the tortilla section and my tortilla world was rocked!  There were recipes for tortillas with ALL KINDS OF THINGS IN THEM: swiss chard, green pepper, onion, baby eels, cheese and truffle (yum, right?!), potato, chorizo and veggies…  AND THERE WAS EVEN A SAUCE RECIPE TO SERVE ON TOP!!  OMG!  And it didn’t stop. There was a “3 layer tortilla” (tortilla de tres pisos).  HOLY TORTILLAS BATMAN!!

Then something even more bizarre happened.  I recovered something akin to a repressed memory.  Actual tortillas in Spain that weren’t just the classic tortilla española!  I can’t remember the city, but I can see the street and the cafe in my minds eye.  I remember getting the ever ubiquitous croquetas (a croquette – a small breadcrumbed fried roll of usually mash potatoes mixed with bechamel and other filling) and looking the food display case at the tortillas, remarking to my dad they they had the craziest thing over there – tortillas with OTHER things in them!  HOW DARE THEY?!  Well apparently, this is common in other parts of Spain that aren’t Andalucia, where we lived.  We learn every day, but apparently I forgot that lesson until a few weeks ago.    Oh – and the kicker to all of this is when I mention this “discovery” to my parents is that their response was one of, “Well, yeah duh…dad makes them with greens in it all the time!!”    Like since when??  Sigh….  Humbled, I am.

Back to the present time, I secured these recipes in short order and was re-committed my intention to at some point in my life have a tortilla cafe that sells just tortillas.  How excellent would that be?!  (I may have also seen several perfect places to do it…just saying.) It’s good to have dreams.  🙂

It's like a giant delicious edible Pac-Man!

It’s like a giant delicious edible Pac-Man!

You know where this is going now…  When I went to make my tortilla this morning, it was not going to be a typical one.  I had some tuscan kale from the garden that needed to be used, so in the tortilla it would go.  I followed the basic tortilla recipe, but after setting the potatoes aside to drain, I sautéed the cleaned and chopped kale in the pan with the residual olive oil.  That got mixed in the the potato, onion and egg mixture to soak for the 15-20 min time before cooking up the omelet.  Otherwise, it goes just like any other “regular” tortilla.  Let it cook and set up a bit and bueno – TORTILLA DE PATATA CON COL RIZADA (tortilla with potato and kale)!

The finished tortilla

Breakfast, lunch, or dinnner. Cold or warm. Plain or on a sandwhich roll. I’ll take a tortilla anyway!

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Okayu, plus some.

This lunch started as some simple okayu, or Japanese rice porridge. I had felt the beginning of a sore throat over the last few days and needed some comfort food and I didn’t get to have one of my favorites yesterday, the egg noodle soup at Saffron. Okayu is my second favorite comfort food. I put of pot of this one the stove and then cooked up some fresh padrón peppers. Delicious! But I still had some fresh yellow and purple beans, cherry tomatoes, and sugar snap peas on the counter. I really wanted to eat them today, fresh that day from the garden.

So, after the okayu cooked up, I put a few scoops in a bowl, and chopped up the clean veggies to put on top. It needed some more body so I put some canned sardines in olive oil on top. Was this French or Asian? I kept thinking, this would be good and very French(ish) if I had some boiled sliced potatoes, but I wanted that rice, the okayu, so I plodded on.

So if this was going to be Asian, I’d run with it and use Asian toppings to spice it up. So much for my simple rice porridge. After a small dash of soy sauce, a sprinkling of nori fumi furikake (a delicious seaweed, sesame, and other spice rice seasoning), and a dollop of chili garlic sauce, I had my lunch. It may sound weird and the sardines are probably not for all, but it was delicious!


Okayu – Rice Porridge
from this site

Okayu (rice borridge) is easy to digest, so people in Japan commonly eat it when having a cold or so on. This is a basic recipe to make plain okayu. Various ingredients such as chicken and radishes can be added if desired.
Yield: 2 servings


1/2 cup Japanese rice (short grain rice)
3 cups water (adjust the amount of water based on your preference)
1/2 tsp salt
for toppings (optional):
chopped green onion
sesame seeds
umeboshi (ume pickles)

Wash Japanese rice and drain. Put water and rice in a heavy bottomed pot or earthenware pot. Leave it for about 30 minutes. Cover the pot and put it on medium-high heat and bring to a boil. Turn down the heat to low and cook the rice for about 30 minutes. Stop the heat and let it steam for about 10 minutes. Season with salt. Serve into individual rice bowls. Put toppings, such as chopped green onion, sesame seeds, or/and umeboshi if you would like.

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