Tai Meshi (Seasoned Rice with Japanese Sea Bream)

This is an auspicious dish that’s fit for any occasion! Tai Meishi is a one-pot dish built around the opalescent white flesh of the Japanese Sea-Bream. The dish hails from the Ehime prefecture in the Japanese island of Shikoku, the smallest of the country’s four main islands. Having Tai Meshi has celebratory connotations due to its similar pronunciation to medetai (愛でたい) – that is “auspicious” in the Japanese language. A single pot is good for a hearty meal, best shared amongst a party of three to four. The below recipe is provided by Soshinsen.

Photo: iStock



For the fish:

1 madai (Japanese sea bream), 400–500g, gutted, scaled and deboned 

20ml Japanese shoyu 

20ml olive oil 

A dash of sesame oil 

Generous amount of Kosher salt


For the rice:

2 cups Japanese short grain rice

2 cups katsuo (bonito) dashi

2 tsp cooking sake

1 tssp mirin (Japanese sweet rice wine)

2 tsp Japanese shoyu

1 knob ginger, peeled (2cm)

½ negi (Japanese leek), sliced diagonally (2 inches) and torched

A few small pcs of dried kombu (2cm)


To garnish (optional):

Yuzu / Lemon zest 

Scallions or spring onions, sliced thinly


Preparing the fish:

  1. Scale, gut and clean the madai. (Soshinsen provides customers with fish gutting services over in Japan to help to best preserve the quality of the produce.)
  2. Butterfly and debone it as well. This would make life a lot easier when serving
  3. Using high quality Kosher salt, salt generously – both on inside and outside. Leave in the chiller for 30 mins. The salt would help to extract excess moisture.
  4. While the fish is resting, combine shoyu and olive oil. Stir well. You may want to add a dash of sesame oil for extra fragrance as well.
  5. Rinse off excess salt and dry the exterior of the fish thoroughly, and score the skin evenly. About 3 to 5 scores per side would be sufficient. 
  6. Coat both sides of the madai in the mix of shoyu, olive oil and sesame oil
  7. Let it marinate (for about 20 to 30 mins) while you prepare the rice

Preparing the rice /donabe:

  1. Wash the short grain Japanese rice until the water runs clear. Leave the rice to soak for 15 to 30 mins then drain
  2. Layer the ingredients evenly in the donabe claypot in the following order: Rice, kombu slices, leek slices (torched, if you like), ginger, mirin and sake. Last but not least, add in the katsuo dashi. Cover the donabe claypot and turn on medium-high heat for approximately 16 mins.
  3. While still cold, torch the exterior of the fish to a gentle sear either using a blowtorch, or on high heat over the open flame of your stove/gas burner. The temperature of the fish will prevent it from cooking internally while obtaining good colour on the skin.
  4. Add the whole fish into the claypot, and cover it. Leave the stove on for another 5 mins and turn it off. Leave it to rest for a further 10 mins before serving.
  5. To serve, remove kombu and ginger – these can be removed at the table for a bit of theatre. Pick meat into chunks of your liking and stir through the rice, garnishing with scallions and yuzu/lemon zest before serving.

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