Tasty Japan: Time to Eat!
Linking a festive spirit
Chakin-zushi is made by mixing rice with various ingredients and wrapping it with a thin omelette.
The name comes from chakin, which is the rectangular fabric used to wipe the tea bowl during the
Japanese tea ceremony that inspired the shape of the thin omelette.
It is said that about a century ago, a cook who served a noble family first conceived of chakin-zushi for a tea ceremony, and it became popular thereafter.
The rice in chakin-zushi is seasoned with vinegar, salt, and sugar. Richly-flavored ingredients
from the mountain and sea are mixed into the rice, such as kampyo (dried gourd strips), shiitake
mushroom that have been cut into strips and simmered, sesame seeds, as well as grilled red snapper or crab
flakes and so forth.
The rice is formed into a small ball with a seasonal touch. In the spring to summer, it is topped with a large, sweet runner bean and in the fall, with a sweetly-simmered chestnut. This is then wrapped with a thin omelette, tied up with a thin strip of kombu (kelp) so the rice doesn’t spill. When it is in shape, the chakin-zushi is complete.
Today, there are various arrangements and presentations for chakin-zushi, and a range of recipes are enjoyed at festive occasions with family and friends. The ingredients that go into the rice and how it is eaten are arranged as preferred. This is a dish which brings smiles to the table.