Have you ever tasted an ingredient and thought to yourself "where have you been all my life"? Have you ever had mirin? Go ahead, Wikipedia it. I even gave you the link. It is sugar and booze, rice wine specifically. And, at least in the dish I made for dinner, delicious. The impetus for trying this was, of course, the Momofuku cookbook I received as a gift. I went to the store knowing I needed mirin and sushi rice, and had remembered something with fish sauce and cauliflower or brussels and silken tofu.
My memory failed me - there was something with fish sauce and cauliflower, and also something with silken tofu and sushi rice, but it was not the same recipe. So I improvised and ended up with what could only be described as a matzo ball soup that took a red eye from New York to Tokyo and dealt with its debilitating fear of flying by getting absolutely smashed and waking up in the seedy underbelly of Tokyo with no clue how it got there.
Or, as I called it in the title, Roasted Cauliflower & Grilled Rice Soup. You may or may not want to cook this; you could probably make a great meal out of it (instead of a delicious but incredibly mis-matched one) by removing the cauliflower/fish sauce and substituting some pickled carrots and more flavor in the tofu.
No formal recipe here, only an ingredient list and prep. Part of this (the cauliflower) is because it is mostly ripped from a cookbook and the other part (sauce for the rice) is that I didn't measure. But, yes, the meal.
The cauliflower was tossed in oil and salt then roasted until it started to brown. Afterwards, it was tossed in the fish sauce vinaigrette from Momofuku. The recipe was supposed to have other things, like toasted puffed rice, fried cilantro leaves, etc. I ignored all of that.
The grilled rice patties were formed by cooking some sushi rice and then beating it into a pulp - first with a spoon then, when I realized the futility of that, with my hand. Make sure you let the rice cool a bit (so you don't get burned) and keep your hand a little wet (so the sushi rice doesn't stick to you) if going this route.
After getting the rice pulpy, form it into a cylinder with wet hands and put it in the fridge for a few minutes to chill while you prep the sauce. I didn't measure anything, really, so these are my guesstimates: 5 parts mirin, 2 parts sesame oil, 1 part sriracha, a dash of soy sauce, and a clump of black sesame seeds. After mixing the sauce, heat a bit of oil in a pan over medium-high. Remove the rice cylinder from the fridge and cut into pucks.
Throw into the pan and sear/sautee until they have developed some golden-ness on one side, then flip over and repeat. Once both sides are looking a little browned, turn down the heat to medium-low, let the pan cool down a bit, and throw in the sauce, tossing to coat.
All of this was served in a bowl of silken tofu, vigorously stirred with a spoon then heated until it began to separate slightly, about five minutes.