Chang’s rice with miso soup is simple and satisfying, if, in his own words, “maybe a little boring.” I’m not really too much a fan of miso soup, but Chang’s has a deep mushroom flavour with just a hint of earthy whole grain barley miso.
Whole grain barley miso is one of those ingredients that I’ve searched for continuously in Asian food stores. I randomly found it one day on the shelves of a local organic store. I didn’t buy it when I saw it, but lo and behold, after I saw it that first time I saw it everywhere, including Whole Foods. Whole grain barley miso has more of a subtle, grainy taste compared to the other miso pastes I’ve used.
The paste is stirred into a mushroom stock and served beside grilled rice or yaki onigiri. Rice is shaped into cylinders, slicked with rendered pork fat and grilled until slightly charred. The pork fat gave the rice cakes a hint of meaty smokiness that you don’t get with regular yaki onigiri.
I loved the miso soup and the grilled rice, but what really caught my attention was the nori powder. Soy sauce and mirin are brushed onto seaweed then dehydrated and ground up into a sort of home make furikake. I don’t have a dehydrator, so I toasted the sheet of seaweed and just crumbled it up with my fingers. The smell of the toasting seaweed was amazing. Dipping the grilled rice into the nori powder was novel; the very familiar flavours of rice and seaweed were transformed by just by adding a little bit of grilling.