The annual cherry blossom festival is underway in Washington, D.C., and Kevin Tien, the chef of Moon Rabbit at the Intercontinental Hotel in that city is marking the occasion with this dish of sakura masu, or “cherry blossom salmon” imported from Japan, so named because the height of its season is also when cherry blossoms, or sakura, bloom.
He starts by heating a donabe clay pot in a hot oven and then brushing it with sesame oil. He then adds cooked koshihikari rice, a prized varietal used for sushi, and presses it against the sides and bottom of the bowl. He then puts the donabe over a medium-low burner and heats it until the rice begins to crackle and get crispy. Then he quickly adds in the middle of the pot an egg yolk from a Jidori chicken, pickled onions, sliced scallions, furikake and slices of smoked sakura masu.
He then garnishes it with shaved bonito flakes. The dish is finished tableside with garlic dashi (made by simmering dashi with sake, mirin, soy sauce, and garlic, and then removing the garlic) that makes the rice sizzle as it’s all mixed together.