I seem to have a penchant for making really weird, Japanese-inspired dishes recently. Here’s another one, and it’s probably the most audacious one of the lot!
You might know of a Japanese donburi / rice bowl dish called bara chirashi don. It's essentially steamed sushi rice topped with a generous heap of raw fish, sometimes avocado, ikura and cucumber, all cut into little half-inch cubes. As you might've guessed from the photos, I took the concept and aesthetics of this dish and flipped it on its head, turning it into a weird, breakfast-fruit-bowl-sorta situation.
I know what you're thinking, a bunch of fruit cubes doesn't make a donburi (rice bowl) though. But ah-ha, this is where I had a rare stroke of genius (if I may say so myself), because under all those fruits... there's rice pudding!
Okay this might seem a little ridiculous and forced (and in a sense it is), but I was just having a little fun and getting all weird and creative in the kitchen. And I must say, I'm quite proud for having come up with this silly little idea. So judge all you want, but I think this bara chirashi fruit bowl is weird and wonderful in its own right. HAHA.
As much as the aesthetics of this dish amuses me though, we all know it's the flavour of the dish that matters most. And I'm proud to say, my weird creation tastes pretty darn good too! This is coming from a guy who, after years of gloopy British-boarding-school cafeteria dinners, almost abhors rice puddings. Granted, I did make my rice pudding a little unconventional by using sushi (calrose) rice, and incorporating a really rich brown butter vanilla caramel into it. I admit its a little heavy on its own, but the fruit manages to cut straight through the richness, making the dish quite nicely balanced. Hmm, I think I might've found the antithesis of the bland, cafeteria gloop that first turned me off rice pudding!
Now I gotta admit, the idea for this dish did initially sound as ridiculous to me as it is to you, but this worked out surprisingly well in the end! Now I'm not claiming to be a genius chef or have created a real special dish here. (Pfft, chefs would probably laugh at my silly chirashi fruit bowl.) All I set out to do every time I'm in the kitchen, which I encourage you to do as well, is to have fun and play around with food and ingredients, while treating them with the love and respect they deserve. And hopefully with a bit of luck, we're able to come up with some interesting, funky, tasty dishes, and learn a thing or two along the way.
- - -
Hmm, seems like my blog has taken a random turn lately. I’ve been making a lot of weird, cross-cultural dishes that are hard to categorise into a particular cuisine / style. It’s very different from my previous articles about traditional Malaysian-Chinese dishes, and I’d really like to know if you find these weird, unbridled explorations interesting at all. Because as much as I hope my writing and weird food experiments can help you a more adventurous cook and eater, you might very well find this a pointless waste of time, if not a little silly and facepalm-worthy at times.
So let me know down below, so I can be a better cook and writer for ya! All criticisms and comments are welcome! 😊
- - -
Bara Chirashi (Fruit) Don (a.k.a. Fruits
makes 5-6 servings
Brown Butter Caramel Rice Pudding, adapted from Merrill Stubbs’s Caramel Rice Pudding recipe
1 pinch (~3g) salt
200ml cream, can be substitute for milk
50ml coconut milk, optional
½ tsp vanilla extract, or 1 vanilla pod
150g sushi rice, I used calrose
a few dollops (~100g) of yogurt
1 large mango
1 red dragonfruit
1 white dragonfruit
plus any other fruit you’d like, really; pomegranates, pineapples, bananas, oranges would all work well!
- Melt and brown the butter in a deep saucepan or pot over medium heat. Once little specks of brown start to appear at the bottom of the pan and the butter starts to colour and smell real nutty, add in the sugar and salt, turn the heat down to low. Stir until the sugar dissolves, careful not to let the sugar burn. This should take 2-3 minutes.
- Once all the sugar has melted and you get a nice brown caramel (though it might look slightly split at this point), add in roughly 50ml of milk. The caramel will hiss and steam, but what’s important here is to keep whisking and stirring it so the caramel doesn’t seize and solidify into chunks. Once you get a nice smooth paste, add in more milk a bit at a time, whisking as you go. Once all the milk has been added, add in the cream, coconut milk, and vanilla extract.
- Give the sushi rice a quick rinse to remove the excess starch, and add it to the milk mixture. Turn up the heat, and once the mixture comes to a boil, turn it down to a simmer. Cook uncovered for 30-35 minutes, until the rice is cooked through but not mushy. Make sure to stir it every 5 minutes or so, just to make sure the rice doesn’t stick to the bottom of the pan.
- Once the rice is cooked through, remove the pan from the heat. It might look a bit watery at this point, but don’t worry, it’ll thicken up as it cools down. When it’s sufficiently cool, transfer to a container and keep in the refrigerator until needed. The rice pudding is best eaten cold.
- Cut the fruits up into bite-sized chunks. (They really don't have to be cubes, the only reason I did it was to give it that bara chirashi look. :P)
- To serve, place a few spoonfuls of rice pudding into the bottom of your bowl. Top it with some yogurt, then pile on your (perfect cubes of) fruits!