Mehari Zushi is a regional Japanese dish unique to Wakayama and the Nara Prefecture. Mehari Zushi is rice ball with chopped pickled Takana mustard leaves wrapped with pickled Takana mustard leaves. I have been thinking to make this but with something else because I have not seen Takana mustard leaves in Brisbane.
Usually I visit a local organic market on Sunday. Organic food is quite expensive but I visit the market because I often find Japanese vegetables such as Shiso leaves, Kabocha pumpkins, and fresh Edamame. I even found Yomogi (mugwort). I have been looking for Takana mustard leaves but have not seen Takana mustard yet, but I saw Rainbow Swiss Chard. I thought maybe I can use Swiss chard to make Mehari zushi because the leaves looked similar.
This dish was named “Mehari” because it’s spectacularly large size and remarkably delicious taste make everyone’s eye open wide. My grandmother had a veggie patch and Takana leaves were always growing. She made Takana mustard pickles all the time. I still remember my fun memory when my best friend (who was also my cousin) and I would sleep over at my grandmother’s house and she would make Mehari Zushi for us to eat for dinner.
I have another fond memory of Mehari zushi. My 3rd and 4th grade teacher lived in a teacher’s housing unit right next to my parents house. She was by far my favourite teacher and she was my inspiration to become a teacher. I wanted to be a teacher like her. One evening, she invited me and my younger sister for dinner. My mother made Mehari Zushi to share with her. My teacher cooked us Omurice and it was delicious. It was about 40 something years ago and I still vividly remember that evening.
I rang my mother in Japan to ask how to pickle Takana mustard but she didn’t pick up the phone so I figured it out myself. I parboiled the Swiss chard but later my mom said I did not have to. Anyway, I don’t have big container to make pickle so parboiling the leaves made it easier to pickle.
- 325 g Swiss Chard
- 5 g salt
- 1/2 tsp soy sauce
- 1 tsp rice vinegar
- 1 tsp mirin
- 1/2 tsp sugar
- 2 g Konbu Kelp
- 2 cups uncooked rice
- 1 tbsp white sesame seeds
- Wash the Swiss chard and parboil it. Cut it in half to separate the stems and leaves.
- Combine the salt, soy sauce, vinegar, mirin, sugar and Konbu(kelp).
- Place the mixture and Swiss chard in a plastic bag, rub the mixture onto the swiss chard (or use a pickle container if you have one) then leave for at least 7-8 hours or over night.
- Cook the rice accordingly to your rice cooker instructions and allow it to cool down (if you don't have a rice cooker, see here for instructions of cooking rice without a rice cooker).
- When the swiss chard is pickled, chop the swiss chard stems finely and add to the cooked rice with 1tbs sesame seeds.
- Mix the chopped chard, sesame seeds, and rice well and make 6 rice balls.
- Wrap the rice balls with pickled Swiss chard leaves. Wrap them in the way that the back of the leaves are outside in order to show the veins of the leaves.
- Combine soy sauce and sesame seeds oil.
- Brush lightly with soy sauce and sesame seeds oil mixture and sprinkle some sesame seeds.