Green Peas Rice

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I first encountered green peas rice during a chance visit to a local preschool center. There, the children harvested and shelled the peas, which the “school lunch ladies” then steamed into a big batch of green peas rice. It was so simple, but those fresh peas—the creamy green dotted with just a touch of black—were unlike anything I had tasted.

Using frozen peas is perfectly fine for this dish. However, if you have the chance to grow peas yourself, or find them for a bargain at your local farmer's market, I recommend shucking them yourself to make this dish. There's nothing quite like that feeling of seeing a bowl infront of you of all your hard work - a sea of green pebbles in light, pastel, dusty shades of green. They emerge after their sauna darker, seasoned, glossy. A subtle culinary transformation.  (Serves 4) 

Ingredients:

2 cups uncooked short-grain white rice
½ to ¾ cup fresh or frozen green peas (ideally, fresh)
1 tablespoon sake
1 teaspoon salt
2 cups water
Sesame seeds (for garnish)

For rice balls:

 Ingredients above
1 cup water
1 teaspoon salt
2 tablespoons white sesame seeds
4 medium squares nori (dried seaweed sheets)
Plastic wrap

For grilled rice balls:

Main ingredients

Cooking spray

Cookware:

Pot, rice cooker or cast-iron vessel. Optional: frying pan

Instructions for rice:

1.       Combine ingredients in rice-cooking vessel.
2.       If cooking on the stovetop, bring the rice mixture to a boil, then reduce heat to low. It should take roughly 30 minutes for the rice to cook. Once the bubbles have subsided and the surface of the rice forms a matte finish, do a quick taste test (don’t let too much steam out!) to see if the rice is done. If using a rice cooker, combine ingredients and cook according to the regular cooking time.
3.       Let rice cool slightly before fluffing with a spoon or spatula.

For Rice Balls (onigiri): 

  •  Complete steps one and two above. Turn off the heat.
  • Let rice rest for 15 minutes to allow the rice to continue to steam and become tender. Allow cooked rice to cool.
  • Combine 1 cup water with the salt in a small bowl. Use this water to dampen hands before handling the rice. Divide the cooked rice into 4 equal portions. (Use one portion of rice for each rice ball.) Using dampened hands, shape each portion into a plump triangle.
  • Lay nori flat, and place 1 rice triangle in the center of each with its point facing vertically toward the ceiling. Crease up two opposite sides of the dried seaweed, so that it appears to look almost like a taco. Sprinkle the rice with white sesame seeds.
  • Eat and enjoy!

 For Grilled Rice Balls:

  • Create rice balls as instructed above through step 3. (Do not wrap in seaweed or add sesame seeds.)
  • In a frying pan, heat the sesame oil to medium-high, and place the four rice balls in. Fry on each side until light or golden brown.
  • When finished, remove from pan, and cool slightly before eating.

Note: For added nutrition and texture, consider using ¾ cup white rice and ¼ cup brown rice.  Another nutritious combination is ¾ cup white rice and ¼ cup barley. The barley will add a springy, pleasant texture.