Guest Author - Chidori Phillips
&IS2From the time I was a child, one of my household chores was to wash and soak the evening’s rice. I learned to measure out the amount my mother decided upon, more if we were having company, less if some of us would not be home for dinner. She conked me on the head if I let too many rice grains slip past my fingers and down the drain when I did not use a strainer.
Rice was a nightly staple. The leftovers were served at breakfast with miso soup or at lunch with tea and other okazu. When I got married, my husband changed my habits and daily rice was one. “I don’t like to eat plain rice every day,” he said. If eating rice daily is a stereotypical Japanese thing to do, eating potatoes is the Caucasian equivalent. And he loves his potatoes. Mashed, baked, fried, boiled. Instead of making two different types of starches, I simply stopped cooking rice daily.
When we had children, however, I made rice more often. They love rice. Plain, steamed hot rice. Chazuke. Fried rice, donburi, omuraisu, kare raisu, but above all, they adore musubi. My daughter loves musubi with umeboshi (pickled plum) in the center while my sons prefer plain or with furikake. My husband stubbornly refused to eat musubi at all.
“Musubi has no flavor,” he insisted. “I’d rather have sushi.” Well, I’m the accommodating sort but I still don’t like to have to make both musubi and sushi at the same time if I don’t have to. For years when we went on picnics, I’d make musubi for us and sushi rice or a sandwich for him.
Finally, it occurred to me that if I can mix in Japanese type ingredients into the musubi rice, I also could consider blending in non-Japanese ingredients. He always says that he loves bacon so much that anything tastes better with bacon (I think he got that notion from the comedian Jim Gaffigan)—even cereal. My favorite way to fry bacon is with brown sugar on it so Sweet Bacon Musubi was born:
Happy Hubby Sweet Bacon Musubi
3 cups *cooked* steamed white rice*
˝ tsp. salt
2 strips of raw bacon
1 Tbsp. brown sugar
1 green onion, thinly sliced
1 tsp. toasted sesame seeds
nori seaweed sheets cut into 2 ˝ x 5 inch strips
*measured after cooking
Finely chop the strips of bacon. Fry them in a hot skillet. When halfway done, pour out some of the fat and then sprinkle on the brown sugar. Cook until the bacon is crisp and caramelized. Scoop out the sugary bits of bacon with a slotted spoon and place them into the hot rice. Sprinkle in the toasted sesame seeds, salt and sliced green onion. Fluff well to distribute the ingredients evenly into the rice.
Moisten a musubi mold or rice bowl with water. Wet your hands with water, too. Place about 3/4 cup of the rice mixture into the mold or bowl. If using the mold, press down the lid (moisten the lid, too to prevent the rice from sticking to it). If using the bowl, make quick up and down movements with the bowl to pack the rice together; then dump the rice into one palm and form the rice into a triangle by pressing it as though you were forming a snowball, only squeeze gently to form three sides. If using a mold, take the rice out of the mold and firmly press with damp hands to reinforce the triangle shape. Wrap a nori strip around the front and back of the triangle.
Some people dampen their hands and press the nori around the triangle until the nori adheres to the rice while others only lightly wrap the nori, letting the ends stand straight up. The latter method keeps a portion of the nori strip crisp which is a desirable quality for some. I did not mention how many musubi this recipe makes because it depends on how large or small you make them. You can also add more or less sugared bacon according to your own tastes.
If you prefer a mold, this one is only $3 on Amazon.com.