All recipes are for 2 servings unless noted. Oil is canola oil and salt is kosher salt.


Sakura no iimushi / steamed sweet rice and fish with salted cherry leaves

A reminder of the season. A gentle taste combination of sweet rice and white fish steamed with  aromatic salted cherry leaves.  Slightly salty gin-an sauce brings everything together, including the pungent wasabi on top.


5 tbsp mochigome sweet rice
6 tbsp water (to soak and cook sweet rice; not in photo)
Tiny piece fish (45 g halibut in photo)
2 large or 4 medium sakura no ha no shiozuke salted cherry leaves

For gin-an sauce
150 cc dashi
1 tbsp sake
1 tsp mirin
1 1/2 tsp usukuchi soy sauce
Salt, to taste (not in photo)
2 tsp potato starch + 2-3 tsp water



Rinse and soak mochigome in a microwaveable bowl for a few hours (at least 30 minutes).


Cover with plastic, and microwave for 2 minutes.
Remove from microwave, and mix well.
Cover, and microwave for another 2 minutes.
Gently fluff, and let cool.


Soak salted cherry leaves for 10-30 minutes.

Drain, and cut off petioles.


Skin and debone fish, and cut in two.


When mochigome is cool, wet your hands, and divide into two balls.

Wet your hands again, flatten each ball into a thin oblong shape, place a piece of fish in the center, and wrap with mochigome.  

Wrap with 1 or 2 cherry leaves halfway around, and place on heat-resistant tray lined with plastic.

If fish is exposed, wrap each ball with plastic to hold its shape.


Prepare gin-an sauce.
In a pot, put dashi, sake, mirin and usukuchi soy sauce, and bring to boil. (Taste, and add salt as necessary; see note below.)

Stir potato starch + water mixture, swirl in, and stir. Add more potato starch + water mixture to desired thickness.
The sauce is ready when it turns translucent (1-2 minutes after putting potato starch + water mixture).
Remove from heat. 


Steam rice balls for 3-4 minutes on medium heat.


Serve in warm individual bowls, pour gin-an sauce (after heating as necessary), and top with wasabi.

  • Use the freshest fish possible. Gin-an sauce is very mild and cannot cover up any deterioration in taste and smell.
  • Adding salt to gin-an sauce is unnecessary if using cherry leaves that are still salty.
  • Adjust the soaking time (desalination) of salted cherry leaves according to your preference. Salt level differs by product or batch; taste the leaves while desalinating if you are unfamiliar with the salted leaves you are using.
  • If bowls fit in the steamer, you can steam the rice balls in bowls (this eliminates wrapping with plastic to keep them together). Steaming in serving bowls is recommended when using more fish than above (as neatly transferring rice balls + fish would be difficult if steamed on a tray).
  • If using powdered wasabi, mix with a small amount of water, and mix well (at least 30 seconds) after blending to bring out the pungent aroma and spiciness.
  • Gin-an [lit. silver-color thickened sauce] is a dashi-based, pale, and slightly salty thickened sauce. It is commonly used for steamed dishes,
  • Iimushi [lit. steamed with rice] is a dish where cooked mochigome is steamed with other ingredients and served with gin-an sauce. 

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