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Posts Tagged ‘Mihyun Han’

By Winnie L.

The warm weather has given the rice seeds that final little push to germinate just in time for our Rice Festival on June 5th.

Chefs Yoshi Kousaka and MiHyun Han from Manhattan restaurants; students from Brooklyn Excelsior Charter School; Koichi Ai, the Deputy Consul General of Japan,  Masakazu Kigure, the Cultural Attache to the Deputy Consul General and Midori Goto, Cultural Affairs Specialist of Japanese Consulate (who also joined us for the Cherry Blossom Festival) and our own horticulture crew made this another fantastic Rice Festival! 

First graders making rice balls

The students made onigiri (rice balls) with umeboshi (pickled plums), nori (dried seaweed) and katuobushi (a fish-based, dry seasoning) with the help of our chefs. The rice balls were made with the same variety of rice that we’re growing here at the farm. Koshihikari rice is a short grain Japanese rice that has a sticky texture and sweet taste.

Koshihikari rice and rice plants from last year's Randall's Island rice harvest
Koshihikari rice and our own rice from last year’s Randall’s Island harvest

The weather is getting perfect for growing rice so we flooded the rice paddies that volunteers built (rice loves water!) and the students helped put the rice seedlings into the soil. On this sunny day, 300 seedlings were put into the rice paddies by forty first-graders (since April, over 900 rice seeds have been planted by students from all over NYC!).

First graders transplanting rice
First graders transplanting rice
First graders transplanting rice
First graders transplanting rice

We look  forward to harvesting the rice this Fall!

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By Phyllis Odessey
Pat-a-cake, pat-a-cake, sushi man.
Cook me some rice as fast as you can;
Pat it and prick it and mark it with S,
Put it in the rice cooker for me and a guest.

Pat-a-cake, patty cake, sushi man.
Cook me a rice ball as fast as you can;
Roll it up, roll it up;
And throw it on a pan!
Patty cake, patty cake, sushi man.

I’ve made a lot of snowballs in my time, but none with rice. In celebration of the planting of rice in The Learning Garden, Yoshihiko Kousaka, master sushi chef of Jewel Bako Restaurant and Mihyun Han, General Manager of Don’s Bogam Restaurant demonstrated how to make rice balls and pickled vegetables to kids from Esperanza Preparatory Academy.

A rice ball called onigiri in Japanese; uses few ingredients, is delicious to eat, and most of all is fun to make. You feel like a sculptor. It’s a tactile experience: using your hands from beginning to end. First creating the ball, second molding the rice into a triangular shape and third adding a secret surprise sour plum to the center and finally wrapping your handiwork in seaweed.

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When you watch someone who is expert at what they do, you think it’s easy, because they are one with their tools and materials. After gathering vegetables from the garden, Yoshi began to slice the carrots, radishes and cucumbers. Like a virtuoso swordsman, Yoshi cut and sliced each vegetable in an artistic way; creating the extraordinary out of the ordinary. (The recipe will appear in a blog to follow).

We want to thank Yoshihiko Kousaka and Mihyun Han for an amazing day in the garden.

If you would like to participate in an event involving the rice paddy, please contact phyllis.odessey@parks.nyc.gov

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