Flavored by a savory broth extracted from sea bream bone, this Japanese Sea Bream Rice (Tai Meshi) is an elegant rice dish fit for special occasions. Here, I’ll show you how to make Tai Meshi with leftover baked sea bream in a donabe. It’s incredibly fragrant and tastes heavenly! Easily one of the most festive things you can serve.
After enjoying the Japanese Baked Sea Bream recipe, you probably end up with fishbones, the head, and maybe some meat from the fish. Today I’ll show you how to utilize the leftover goodies to make another wonderful dish – Tai Meshi or Sea Bream Rice (鯛飯).
What is Tai Meshi?
Tai Meshi or Taimeshi (鯛飯) is seasoned rice cooked with sea bream. Depending on your preference, there is a number of ways to make this dish. You can either cook the rice with the head of broiled sea bream, or with whole uncooked (raw) sea bream, or with dashi soup stock made from leftovers. Regardless of how you cook it, it is a lot less work than it seems.
This post is subsequent to my Japanese Baked Sea Bream recipe, so we’ll be using the leftovers to make Tai Meshi. It’s the best way to stretch a prized ingredient into two luxurious meals.
Overview: How to Cook Tai Meshi with Leftover Baked Sea Bream
- Remove the fish meat from the bone. Don’t waste any bit!
- Make the bone broth with bone and head.
- Cook the rice with bone broth, sake, soy sauce, and kombu.
- Discard the kombu and fluff the rice.
- Mix in the leftover fish and thinly sliced ginger. Serve and enjoy it with a sprinkle of sansho pepper!
What You Need to Make Tai Meshi
1. Leftover cooked whole sea bream
The main ingredient is the whole sea bream that’s cooked. For this recipe, we used half of the meat of the sea bream to make 2 (rice cooker) cups of rice.
2. Japanese short-grain rice
To make the Japanese rice dish, please use short-grain rice. The rice is stickier and plump than the other varieties.
3. Kombu, sake, soy sauce, and salt for seasonings
A piece of kombu for umami, sake for making the rice plump and removing fish odor, and soy sauce for the color and subtle saltiness.
4. A large heavy-bottomed pot (Donabe, Dutch oven, etc)
You can use any large pot, but I highly recommend using a heavy-bottomed pot like a Japanese donabe (I used Kamadosan) or a Dutch oven to cook the rice. It is more suited for even cooking. If you use a thin bottomed pot, the hot spots may burn the rice.
How to Cook Tai Meshi in a Rice Cooker – You can follow the same directions and cook in the rice cooker.
Tips on How to Make Tai Meshi with Leftover Baked Sea Bream
1. Skim the fish broth.
It is no doubt tedious work, but diligently skimming all the foam and scums from the broth will pay off. Removing impurities is very important for a clean-tasting and refined-looking rice dish.
2. Soak the rice for 20-30 minutes.
Japanese short-grain rice is rounder than other types of rice. Therefore, it requires a bit more time to soak up water to the core of the rice. The rice will be moist and tender if you soak them.
3. Measure the soy sauce and sake before fish broth.
To cook 2 rice cooker cups of rice in the donabe, you will need 400 ml of broth. In a measuring cup, add soy sauce and sake (other “liquids”) first, then fill up with fish broth until it reaches 400 ml.
4. Remove bones the best you can.
When you remove the meat from the fish, do your best to remove smaller bones, so you can fully enjoy the dish. You don’t want the drama of fishbone stuck in your throat…
5. Add ginger to your liking.
You may think it’s a lot of ginger at first, but it bestows a refreshing taste and fragrance to the fish-based rice. Add more as you like, you will be surprised how much you actually like it. If your ginger is too spicy, soak in the water to tame the spiciness, squeeze water out, and then add to the rice. Younger ginger (not necessarily young ginger; you can tell by the tender skin on the outside) tends to have a milder taste.
Homey yet sophisticated, Tai Meshi is a thing of beauty. I hope you get a chance to serve this dish at your New Year’s table.
Tai Meshi with Leftover Baked Sea Bream
- Gather all the ingredients. For this recipe, I use a 3-cup size double-lid donabe rice cooker called Kamado-san.
To Make Fish Broth
- Note: The fish broth can be made a day ahead and refrigerated. With a spoon, remove the inside of the fish head. Keep the main fish bones for the broth, but discard any tiny bones, the fins, and the tail.
- Place the fish bones and head in a medium/large pot and fill up the pot with water, just to cover them.
- Bring the water to a boil over medium heat. Once boiling, skim the foam and scrum with a fine-mesh skimmer. Lower the heat and simmer for 10-15 minutes while skimming occasionally. We want clean broth for the rice.
- After 10 minutes of simmering, strain the bones and broth over a fine-mesh strainer placed over a large bowl or another pot. Discard the bones and head, and let the broth cool to room temperature.
To Make Tai Meshi
- Rinse the short-grain rice (If you are not sure how to rinse rice, see this post) and drain well. Transfer to a donabe (I use a Kamado-san) or a medium pot.
- In a 2-cup measuring cup, add soy sauce and sake first. Then pour the fish broth until the amount is 400 ml (should be 1 ¾ cup minus 1 Tbsp).
- Add salt and mix well together. Then transfer to the donabe (pot).
- Flatten the rice and add a piece of kombu on top. Put the lid on (for Kamadosan, put internal and external lids). Let the rice soak in the broth for 20-30 minutes.
- Cook on medium-high heat (or medium heat on a professional gas stove) for 13-15 minutes.
- If you are using a Kamado-san, remove from the heat 2-3 minutes after the steam starts puffing from the top lid (see left pic below). Each gas stove is different, so this is a good sign to follow. Let it stand for 20 minutes, without opening the lid.
- Shave off the skin of ginger with a knife and cut it into thin slices. Then cut it into thin julienned pieces.
- Break the fish meat into smaller bite-size pieces. If the fish was in the fridge, you may want to reheat it in the microwave. Open the lid (double lids, if using Kamado-san).
- Remove the kombu (you can discard or re-use it to make simmered kombu) and gently fluff the rice with a rice paddle.
- Add half of the fish meat and julienned ginger and mix gently. Then transfer the rest of the fish meat to the rice. Garnish with the rest of the ginger on top. Serve into individual bowls and sprinkle some sansho pepper if you like. Enjoy!
- You can keep the leftover in an airtight container for up to 2-3 days or in the freezer for up to 1 month.