As a lover of both Japanese culture and good food, this is one of those articles that almost wrote itself. In the years that I have lived in Japan I’ve had the chance to experiment extensively with a number of different ingredients and cooking methods.
The recipes I am going to show you today, you won’t find in any Japanese cookbook, but nonetheless these are delicious, simple dishes that even the most reluctant cook can throw together in a matter of minutes.
Ok, I’ve waffled on enough, let’s get to the recipes themselves
1.Spicy Tofu curry (Serves 2)
Photo: MellowFood on Flickr
Do you love curry, but you’re concerned about the calories, well worry no more, here’s a healthier take on the conventional Japanese curry. For this recipe you will need the following ingredients:
100 grams of fresh tofu (available in most supermarkets or convenience stores)
2 whole eggplants
1 Jar of pickled Jalapeno Peppers
1 yellow pepper
Curry paste or packet curry sauce
100 grams of rice
First, chop the onion, eggplants, tomatoes and yellow pepper finely. Mix them together in a large bowl. Season with a little soy sauce.
Next boil your rice. You can use either a pot or, if you have it, a rice cooker. Do not used fried rice or prepackaged rice.
Now, take about 6 or 7 jalapenos from the jar and add them to your chopped vegetables.
Heat a little olive oil in a wok, add the vegetables once the wok is hot. Stir fry for 3 to 4 minutes until the veg is nice and soft. Chop and add your tofu.
Once the whole mixture has heated through, serve with rice. For a little extra garnish why not add some pickled ginger on the side, for that authentic Japanese curry experience.
After a hot curry, perhaps you’re feeling a little parched, maybe what you need is a nice Japanese fruit smoothie to calm your stomach and cool your palate.
Japanese whole fruit smoothie (makes around 500ml)
Photo: Katrin Morenz on Flickr
For this smoothie, you will need the following ingredients:
3 fresh yuzu fruits
2 Aomori apples
3 Ume (Japanese plums)
2 bunches of Okayama grapes
4 “Mikan” oranges
100 ml of soy milk.
Pretty much as simple as they come. Chop up and peel your fruits (except the yuzu, because the zest is the best part) and then through them all in your juicer or blender. Once it’s all blitzed, add your soy milk and stir well. Chill in the refrigerator for around 30 minutes then serve.
If you’re feeling adventurous, why not pour some of this same mix into ice cream lolly molds and freeze them to make delicious fruit lollies? The perfect summer treat.
Miso Pork Chops
Photo: Robyn Lee on Flickr
Another delicious and very simple dish. This one will impress all your friends and can be thrown together in no time at all. You’ll need the following ingredients:
Pork chops (2 per person)
1 tub of miso paste
Rice (50gm per person)
Take a generous helping of miso paste, and spoon it into a bowl. Squeeze the juice from one of your lemons and add it to the bowl, add some black pepper.
Next take your pork chops and dip them into the mixture, be sure to coat each chop thoroughly on both sides in the miso paste. Put your rice onto boil.
Next fire up the grill and cook your chops on a medium heat for 8-12 minutes, turning halfway through. Make sure your chops are cooked through before serving. The best way to do this is to pierce your chops with a fork prior to serving. If the meat juices run clear then your chops are ready. If they are even slightly pink then you need to give the chops a bit more cooking time.
To serve the chops, first dish up your rice on the plate, then serve the chops on top. Sprinkle the juice from the remaining lemon over the chops to give them a little extra zing.
For my final recipe today, I’ve decided to share one of the first Japanese recipes I ever learned. It was during my university days, when a friend of mine, who was a native of Kyoto, introduced me to the delights of Kobe Beef for the first time. The way this beef is served may not immediately sound appealing to the western palate but trust me when I say that this is a taste sensation that must be experienced before one can truly appreciate just how good it is.
For this recipe, you will need the following ingredients:
Raw Wagyu Beef (200gm per person)
Cheddar cheese (50gm per person)
Sweet Soy Sauce
Note: This is not the recipe just the Wagyu beef being cooked
Photo: Paul Keller on Flickr
Ok, this it not only the most delicious dish I will tell you about today it is also the easiest to prepare. It can literally be served up in less than 2 minutes.
First of all, take your beef and chop it finely, the thinner and lighter the slices, the better.
Next, grate your cheese. If you’re feeling really lazy you can use that pre-grated mozzarella that is commonly found in many supermarkets these days.
Take your sliced beef, and your grated cheese and put them into a bowl. Add 2 or 3 tablespoons of your soy sauce, stir it all together until it is a beautifully chaotic mush, and then eat immediately.
For a touch of class, this raw beef is best enjoyed with an ice cold glass of fine sake. The cheese and the beef go together beautifully and the soy sauce acts as the perfect bonding agent, creating a delicious cascade of flavours in your mouth.
I find that when you are serving this dish to non-Japanese friends, it’s usually best to wait until after they have eaten it before you tell them what’s in it.
So there you have it, delicious foods in double quick time. So what are you waiting for? Get cooking!