Thursday, August 11, 2011

Tex-Mex Barbecue Onigiri

About four months ago, the wife and I were scratching our heads as to how to take care of some thinly sliced beef and mounds of freshly cooked short-grain rice (our house's staple starch due as much to dietary issues as our being a Shinto household). We rummaged through the refrigerator for about ten minutes before settling on skillet cooking strips of this thin beef with barbecue sauce and onions and serving it to ourselves in our large bowls, similar to gyudon. We jokingly named it "baabaakyuu don" and made it at least one more time before moving to our current location.

Fast forward to this week, and I've been given an amazing chunk of beef roast by my mother-in-law. The expense of such an item (even here in Texas) is enough to make me give a renewed dedication to not waste any gift, especially a housewarming present made of food. After I thawed it sufficiently, it went into the crock pot with some beef stock and a thinly sliced onion.

The debate began: how would the wife and I use it? We didn't have the ability to acquire more veggies to serve with it, so spinach, rice, noodles and carrots were our only options for sides. We finally resolved to make shredded barbecue out of it, and so I used some Jesse Dalton Barbecue Sauce and some brisket rub on it. That left me with my next question: what do we do with about two pounds of leftover beef barbecue?

The solution came to my wife yet again: the next day, she requested that instead of making plain onigiri I stuff them with some of the leftovers so her lunch wouldn't be so messy. I gave it a shot, loaded the rice into the press and "bingo!" we had created a new combination of foods for ourselves. I jokingly refer to it as "Tex-Mexanese" fusion cuisine.

To make it clear, if you want to make something like this, you need a good, strong flavored sauce that isn't too sweet - it gets lost in the rice and salt. Your best bet is to add only about a half a tablespoon's worth of filling to a standard, fit-in-your-palm rice ball, and to consume them quickly - I've made similar stuff in the past, and if it's too saucy or you let it sit for a while, the liquids will slowly seep out and stain the rice, change the flavor profile, or something else that may or may not effect the experience of eating these.

It was really quite a different combination - normally, I don't do much beyond plain rice, basic miso soup, and some sort of reasonably complex main or side dish. I would love to take pride in such a thing, but really that just feels a bit silly. I absolutely had to share it with the world, though. Hopefully someone finds the idea interesting enough to try.

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