When I was teaching Italian in Japan I once asked my students to tell me what was the typical Japanese dish they had for dinner, one answered ochazuke, and everybody laughed! Ochazuke meant that you lived alone, or your mum/wife was out for the night and you couldn't cook. Or that you run out of money! For homework they had to write a description of Ochazuke (in Italian) and the week after they came with their recipes and, most surprising for me, they all brought a sachet of flavoring for ochazuke, for me to try. The basic idea is to use leftover plain rice and top it with hot green tea, and then some toppings (and these where the sachets, a bit like furikake, but with green tea added, so that you just needed hot water). Most of the students in that class were young and lived by themselves, thus the need of quick comfort food, and they always had left over rice, and possibly a sachet of seasoning. I got to love ochazuke, but rather than seasoning from a sachet I use some chopped-up nori, some wasabi or ume plum, salted sakura flowers, dried shiso... anything I have at hand really, and then some green tea.
Photos and recipes by Alessandra Zecchini ©