Shalom Japan’s Lox Bowl
The lox bowl at Shalom Japan, a Brooklyn restaurant created by chef-owners Sawako Okochi and Aaron Israel, shows how the combination of ingredients can tell a story. Lox, a Jewish-American staple, is set over a bed of sushi rice, inspired by Japanese chirashi bowls, in a meal that marries the cultures of both chefs. The dish combines lox, avocado and spicy mayo with crunchy cucumber, tangy pickles, sweetened kombu and fresh herbs, in a pile of salty, sweet and acidic umami. It takes some prep and quite a few ingredients, but you can pick and choose toppings to taste: “There aren’t too many rules, other than doing fish over rice,” Mr. Israel said. They cure their own salmon with parsley and dill, coriander and bonito flakes at Shalom Japan, but you can top your rice with store-bought gravlax, or even cooked salmon, tuna or scallops, before piling on your desired garnishes.
- Serves: 4 persons
- ¾cup rice wine vinegar
- ¼cup granulated sugar
- 3tablespoons kosher salt
- 1(1-inch) square dried kombu (optional)
- 1large piece dried kombu (about 4-by-8 inches/20 grams)
- ¼cup soy sauce
- ¼cup mirin
- ¼cup granulated sugar
- ⅓cup mayonnaise, preferably Kewpie brand
- 1teaspoon Sriracha
- ½teaspoon rice wine vinegar
- 2cups Japanese short-grain rice (about 14 ounces)
- 8to 12 ounces store-bought lox
- 1avocado, halved, peeled and thinly sliced
- 1small Japanese or Persian cucumber, halved lengthwise and thinly sliced
- ¼cup assorted Japanese pickles (optional)
- 2tablespoons drained capers
- 1packed cup cilantro leaves and tender stems
- 3scallions, trimmed and thinly sliced on the bias
- Ikura (salmon roe), optional
- ¼cup kizami nori (or sushi nori, cut into thin strips)
Step 1Prepare the sushi zu: Combine the vinegar, sugar, salt and kombu (if using) in a pint-size plastic container. Stir to combine, put a lid on it, then let sit at room temperature before using. (The mixture mellows with time and is best prepared a few hours in advance.)
Step 2While the sushi zu sits, prepare the sweet kombu: Add the kombu to a medium saucepan and cover with water by a couple of inches. Bring to a boil over high. Once the water comes to a boil, reduce the heat to medium and cook until the kombu is tender, about 20 minutes.
Step 3Meanwhile, prepare the chile mayo: In a small bowl, stir together the mayo, Sriracha and vinegar. Refrigerate until ready to use.
Step 4After the kombu has simmered until tender, drain it, pat it dry, then cut it into very thin, 1-inch-long strips. Return the kombu to the saucepan. Add the soy sauce, mirin and sugar, and cook over medium heat until the sugar dissolves and the liquid reduces slightly, about 5 minutes. Let cool, transfer kombu and liquid to a lidded container, and store in the refrigerator for up to 1 month.
Step 5Prepare the rice: Place the rice in a medium bowl. Cover with several inches of cold water, swirl the rice vigorously using your hand, then pour off the cloudy water. Repeat two or three more times until the water still looks milky but is more transparent. Drain the rice and transfer to a medium pot with a tight-fitting lid. (A heavy-duty, enamel-coated cast-iron pot is ideal, because it distributes heat evenly.) Add 2 cups water, cover with the lid, and bring to a boil over high heat, which should take about 5 minutes. Once it boils, reduce the heat to low and cook for exactly 10 minutes. Turn the heat off, but do not remove the lid. Let sit, covered, for 10 minutes. (Alternately, you can cook the rice in a rice cooker according to manufacturer’s instructions.)
Step 6While the rice cooks, prep the garnishes and measure 6 tablespoons sushi zu. (Store the remaining sushi zu at room temperature for future use for up to 1 year.) As soon as the rice is cooked, dump it into a large mixing bowl and pour the 6 tablespoons sushi zu on top. Using a rice paddle or the back of a wooden spoon, gently break up the rice with a cutting and folding motion, delicately coating the grains with sushi zu.
Step 7Divide the rice evenly among four shallow bowls and cover it with an even layer of lox. Using a squeeze bottle, piping bag or a spoon, drizzle the chile mayo over the lox.
Step 8Arrange the selected garnishes in clockwise clusters: First, the avocado, then the sweet kombu, followed by the cucumbers and pickles. Sprinkle the capers and cilantro around the rim, and place the scallions in the center. Set the ikura (if using) in a nice mound next to the scallions, and sprinkle the nori on top.