Photo:Hideya HAMANO on Flickr

Christmas Dinner in Japan

Ok, so you’ve got your presents, the Christmas tree is up and the lights are sparkling as they should.

Outside, despite the ongoing threat of global warming, you notice there’s still a healthy smattering of crisp, white snow on the ground outside. It glistens softly under the dim streetlights.

You sit back, gently sipping your Starbucks seasonal gingerbread latte you picked up on the way home from work. You get the phone call from your girlfriend, she’s just finishing up at work. Now she’s going home to get changed and she’ll be with you in a couple of hours.

As you exchange sweet, slushy sentiments about what a wonderful Christmas you will have and how much you love each other, you remember why it is you so adore all this gimmicky Christmas stuff.

You find yourself gently whistling one of the many Christmas ballads you’ve been listening to all day as you finish up your call with the girlfriend.

Then, suddenly, her final sentence plunges you into turmoil. Suddenly nothing makes sense anymore, your perfect evening is now in utter chaos.

Darling,” she purrs. “I’m really looking forward to your Christmas dinner.

The realisation smacks you down like a George Foreman haymaker.

Dammit!” you curse at yourself, “I knew I forgot something.

You kept telling yourself you would order one of those very limited, and grossly over-priced turkeys from Costco. But procrastination had won over you as you kept saying “I’ll do it tomorrow, I’ll do it tomorrow.

Well now you can’t put it off any longer. It’s 6pm on Christmas Eve, the love of your life (possibly) will be there in a couple of hours. There’s no time to get over to Costco even if they still had some Turkeys left, which they don’t.

Photo : Hideya HAMANO on Flickr

So, you’ve got less than 2 hours to throw together a Christmas banquet to wow your better half, otherwise you can forget about any notions of a Merry Christmas. They’ll be no more Nat King Cole in the house that weekend!

Luckily fear not dear reader because, once again, your uncle Liam is here to save the day.

Follow these simple steps and you too can throw together a European Christmas Banquet to thrill even the most high-maintenance of Japanese partners. And all with ingredients available at your local Supermarket.

First, the starter:

Smoked Salmon and cream cheese rolls

For this, you will need the following:
1 packet of smoked salmon (if you’re feeling extra extravagant go for the Gravelax they sell in IKEA),
Cream cheese (Philadelphia if you can find it in the combini)
Mixed salad (one bag does two servings)
Mayonaise, Ketchup, lemon juice and Worcestershire Sauce.

First, divide the salad into to bowls. In a separate bowl pour some mayonnaise and an equal quantity of ketchup, remember that the two combined need to make enough sauce for two dishes.

Next, whisk the ketchup and mayonnaise together until it forms a pinkish paste. Add two or three drops of Worcestershire Sauce, and whisk thoroughly again, finish with a few drops of lemon juice.

Congratulations, you’ve just made a rudimentary Marie Rose Sauce!

Next, take your smoked salmon and separate each slice. At the centre of each slice place a little cream cheese and roll them up as you would a fajita. Place 3 or 4 rolls in each bowl, on top of the salad, drizzle the Marie Rose sauce over the top. Cover and place the two bowls in the refrigerator whilst we get to work on the main course.

Main Course: Chicken in a red wine sauce

You’ll need the following:
Cooked chicken portions (4)
Pre-cooked microwavable rice
An onion,
Tomato puree,
2 garlic cloves
2 Peppers, preferably one red and one orange or yellow.
2 big tomatoes.
Some red wine.

Ok, so I know that turkey is the main bird of choice for most Christmas dinners, with goose being another favourite if you happen to be from North America. However, neither is easy to come by in Japan, especially around the festive season. I noticed recently that 7 Eleven does some really good cooked chicken breast portions, and they are reasonably cheap too. With time being a major factor here, you need to get yourself 4 of these chicken portions, I recommend the Italian herb flavour if they have them.

While, you’re in the Convenience Store, pick up 4 portions of microwavable rice as well.

Also, pick up a Christmas cake for dessert, if they’ve sold out then a cheesecake will suffice. And some custard too, if they have it.

First, chop the peppers, tomatoes, garlic and onion not too finely though.

Next take the onion and tomatoes and place them in a bowl, add the tomato puree and your garlic. Add a few capfuls of red wine, depending on your own taste and more importantly the taste of your partner. Blend it all in a food mixer, until you have a nice smooth paste.

At this point, heat the chicken portions in a pan. Remember they are already pre-cooked so you just need to warm them. Once they are warm, add your sauce over the top, and if you so desire, a little more red wine. While you’re at it, pour yourself a glass too. You’ve earned it!

Put the rice in the microwave, be careful, those packets get hot when you take them out!

Serve the rice onto your plate, then place the chicken portions on top, and finally pour your sauce leisurely over the chicken and rice.

The Dessert

Along with the best people
Photo : suri on Flickr

As I said earlier, hopefully you had the forethought to pick up a good cake or pudding from the shops when you were out. Making desserts isn’t my strong point, and is best left to the shops! One thing is for sure, amidst the myriad of supermarkets and convenience stores that remain open on Christmas Day, there’s no shortage of dessert options available.

So, by following this simple guide, hopefully you’ll be able to give your loved one the Christmas dinner they desire, all you to kick back relax, snuggle up to your better half and enjoy some Nat King Cole free of any stresses and anxieties. Have a great Christmas everyone!

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