What did I eat?
December 31, 2012 8:33 PM   Subscribe

What did I eat? Fifty years ago, when I was a kid, a friend's Japanese mother made us a snack. She pulled 2 plain, fist sized rice balls from the fridge and sprinkled a dark green, watery sauce on them. It was salty and fishy tasting. It may have had some dark green flecks in it. I've seen nothing like it in Asian markets, and I think it may have been homemade, for it was poured from a wine bottle with a metal liquor spout tube. I've wondered for years.
posted by sagejumper to Food & Drink (10 answers total) 7 users marked this as a favorite
This probably isn't the part you're puzzling over, but the rice balls themselves may have been onigiri. As for the sauce...I leave that to brighter minds than mine.
posted by badgermushroomSNAKE at 9:41 PM on December 31, 2012

Was the sauce something sort of like this, with green tea and seaweed involved somehow?
posted by limeonaire at 9:49 PM on December 31, 2012

Just pulling some random Japanese cookery out of my rear end, but my gut feeling is that the sauce would likely be some concoction of mirin and kombu. Not sure why it would be green, but if I were playing with this in my kitchen, I'd mix mirin, soy sauce, and kombo for a bit and see how close it gets, and adjust from there.
posted by colin_l at 9:49 PM on December 31, 2012

Looking at limeonaire's comment - matcha powder would definitely get the green color
posted by colin_l at 9:50 PM on December 31, 2012

+1 on the onigiri. I'm really not sure about the dark green sauce, but there's a condiment called Gohan Desu Yo! (ごはんですよ! link; Japanese) that is basically a thick nori and bonito-flavored goo that has bits of seaweed in it. The taste would seem to match what you're describing; I wonder if maybe she thinned out the paste a bit to make it more palatable to kids? Total shot in the dark, though..
posted by gchucky at 9:54 PM on December 31, 2012

There's a couple of things that are puzzling. First, it's really unusual to put rice in the fridge, since it goes hard and dry and loses its taste. Second, you can't really pour a liquid on rice balls, because the rice won't stick anymore (it is common to dab broiled rice balls - yaki-onigiri - with soy sauce, because broiled the rice ball creates a delicious hard outer crust).

As for the green stuff, it could have been shiso, but that would be sprinkled on as flakes, much like ground aonori. Maybe it wasn't a liquid?
posted by KokuRyu at 12:52 AM on January 1, 2013

This calls for an outing to good sushi houses and asking to try all of their fish sauces on onigiri. This would be a real test for a prideful sushi chef and I think you would find what you were looking for and find some new flavors on the way to the answer and after.
posted by parmanparman at 8:20 AM on January 1, 2013 [2 favorites]

I'm guessing the sauce was ponzu-shoyu and the fished taste came from shaved bonito.

Nothing more frustrating than trying to recreate a sauce you tasted a while ago but I bet you will like ponzu!
posted by BibiRose at 8:39 AM on January 1, 2013

Just throwing this out there: maybe ochazuke? (c.f. wikipedia)
posted by homodachi at 6:09 PM on January 1, 2013

It sounds like mochi with soy and nori, which is a classic combination, but with norijouyu (soy sauce with nori mixed in) instead of sheet or finely cut nori. The only thing is, did she pull them from the fridge and serve without heating them in any way? Usually mochi is served warm, and fist-sized is a lot of mochi. Maybe they were yaki-onigiri with norijouyu.
posted by Sar at 2:46 AM on January 2, 2013

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