Butter Rice with Mackerel and Maitake Mushrooms, a Household Dish Rich in Umami and Aroma

The Yomiuri Shimbun
Butter rice with mackerel and maitake mushrooms

As it gets colder, my appetite increases. This is the season to really enjoy a punchy dish.

French-cuisine chef Shinsuke Ishii has kindly taught us how to make butter rice served with mackerel and maitake mushrooms. It’s a good, hearty dish to share with family and friends.

The main ingredient used in this dish is called bunka-boshi mackerel, which is made by cutting the fish into fillets and soaking it in salted water before wrapping it in cellophane for drying. It’s a common family dish in Japan.

“The fish is inexpensive, tasty and I’ve always loved bunka-boshi,” Ishii said. “Since it’s the season for a new crop of rice, I want to cook the fish with the freshest rice possible.”

I wondered how he would arrange the combination of mackerel and rice — such a typical Japanese-style set meal — in a French style.

Ishii first cooked the maitake mushrooms in a frying pan. After lightly browning the mushrooms, he moved them toward the edge of the pan. Then he slowly fried garlic in melted butter in the empty space. After coating the mushrooms with the butter and garlic, he poured them over the rice.

He washed and wiped the pan, then cooked the mackerel. Once the skin side was cooked, Ishii covered the pan with a lid to steam the fish.

“If you place the flesh side of the fish down in the pan, the fish will stiffen. Steam the fish without flipping it over. It will make the fish fluffier,” he said.

When it was finished cooking, he placed the cooked fish over the rice and mushrooms with the skin side up, and garnished it with chrysanthemum flowers.

After giving it a stir with a rice paddle, he served it on a plate with eel sauce.

The rich mackerel flavor mixed with the strong aroma of garlic and butter made it an irresistible dish. The dish, accented with the bitterness of the flowers, is sure to make you want a second helping.

Pizza bread

The grilled mackerel and butter-sauteed maitake mushrooms go well with bread, too.

Break the mackerel into pieces and place on bread along with maitake mushrooms. Top with slices of cherry tomatoes and cheese before grilling in a toaster oven.

“It’s an unexpected combination, but delicious,” Ishii said. The pizza bread has an addictively rich umami flavor.

Butter rice with mackerel and maitake mushrooms

Ingredients (Serves 4):

  • One side of salted mackerel
  • 2 cups rice (1 cup = 180 milliliters)
  • 200 grams maitake mushrooms
  • 1-2 cloves (8 grams) garlic
  • 2-3 konegi green spring onions
  • 30 grams butter
  • chrysanthemum flowers as desired
  • 2 tbsp olive oil
  • soy sauce or eel sauce as needed
  • Directions

1. Cook rice in a rice cooker or pot. Remove as much of the bones and fins as possible from mackerel and sprinkle a pinch of salt on the skin. Tear maitake mushrooms by hand and cut into bite-size pieces. Finely chop garlic and cut konegi green spring onions into small pieces.

2. Heat 1 tablespoon of olive oil in a frying pan and cook the maitake over high heat. When they start to brown, sprinkle with two pinches of salt and a pinch of pepper and reduce the heat.

3. Move the maitake toward the far edge of the pan and put butter in the empty space. Add garlic to the melted butter and fry them until they start to brown. Mix with mushrooms. Add konegi green spring onions and mix, then pour over the rice.

4: Heat 1 tablespoon of olive oil in a frying pan, add mackerel with the skin side down, and cook thoroughly for 3 to 4 minutes. Cover the pan with a lid, reduce the heat to low, and steam the fish for 2 to 3 minutes. Remove the fish from the pan and place on a paper towel to absorb excess fat. Place the fish on top of rice and maitake mushrooms. Sprinkle with chrysanthemum flowers.

5. When serving, mix rice, fish and mushrooms with a rice paddle and place them on a plate. Sprinkle soy sauce or eel sauce as desired.