I looked forward to a few things in anticipation of vacationing in Maui over the holidays: to being away from the day-to-day grind, to spending quality time with my husband, to swimming and lounging on the beach and….
…to eating a Japanese breakfast.
I must have mentioned the last thing to my husband several times during the flight over. “Of all the things to look forward to in Hawaii”, I could almost hear him say. It’s not like I can’t have it at home and yet I practically dragged him out of bed on our first day of vacation for a buffet breakfast. I remembered stumbling upon a certain Ka’anapali hotel’s morning spread many, many years ago, during one of our first trips to Hawaii together. It offered the usual items–omelets made to order, tons of fresh fruit, oatmeal, eggs, bacon, sausages, pancakes, pastries–but what caught my attention was the Japanese section with a big pot of miso soup and the fixings on the side, the giant cooker full of steamed rice and next to it a large tray of steamed fish (mackerel, I think). I generally don’t even crave breakfast (admittedly, unless I’m on vacation) but there’s something about seeing rice that just makes my heart skip a beat. So on that first morning (which happened to be Christmas Day) I had a bowl of rice, scrambled eggs, steamed fish, two servings of miso soup (and bacon; of course!); I was all smiles as I ate my breakfast with the Pacific Ocean just steps before me.
I will admit that the quality of that Japanese breakfast wasn’t worth raving about but it did satisfy my craving. I knew I could do better at home, so here’s my take on a Japanese-style breakfast (a true Japanese breakfast has more components than this).
I poached cod in water seasoned with a bit of kosher salt, salt-free seasoning and fresh lemon juice. It may not seem like it but these additions to the water impart a lot of flavor to the fresh fish. For the egg component I believe omelets are more traditional but I can’t resist poached eggs. They share the spot with soft-boiled eggs as my favorite preparation. I plated the two with rice sprinkled with furikake (Japanese rice seasoning) and chopped scallions and I had a winner of a breakfast. The only thing missing was the fabulous ocean view.
* Furikake comes in many flavor combinations but I like the ones with seaweed, bonito flakes and sesame seeds. They impart a lot of flavor to plain rice and egg. The next time you visit an Asian market, give one of them a try.
- 2 eggs
- 2 portions fish fillets (I used cod)
- Steamed rice
- Roughly 1 tablespoon no-salt seasoning
- 1 - 1¼ cup water (for poaching)
- Juice of half a lemon
- Chopped scallions for topping
- Furikake (Japanese rice seasoning; available at any Asian store)
- Soy sauce, for drizzling over rice
- To poach the eggs: I use an egg poaching tray with room for three eggs. It fits perfectly in my 8½-inch fry pan. Add about 1 cup water to the pan and bring to a boil. Break the eggs into the poaching tray and put in the pan with boiling water. Reduce heat to medium or medium-high, cover the pan with a domed lid and wait about 5 minutes. This should be enough time for the egg whites to set while the yolks stay soft. Transfer tray out of pan but don't discard the water.
- To prepare the fish: In the same pan that you used to poach the eggs and using the same water (add a bit more if the water reduced to less than 1 cup), add a couple pinches of salt, the no-salt seasoning and the juice of about half a lemon. Bring the water to a simmer then add the fish pieces. Cover again with the domed lid and depending on the size and thickness of your fish, they should be done in about five minutes. Turn over the fish halfway during cooking if the water doesn't cover them completely.
- Assembly: Top the fish and egg on steamed rice seasoned with furikake and chopped scallions. Serve warm.