Always wanted to try your hand at Japanese-style cooking, but think it’s probably too hard? Well, think again! It’s easier than you’d imagine with all the available sauces, marinades and even sushi-rolling kits available in the supermarket or specialty stores. It is fun too if you serve it in a Japanese-inspired setting.
We like Japanese food, especially my son. If we sometimes feel like going out to dinner, chances are Japanese cuisine would be the first choice. My son started his liking for sashimi when he was just five years old. For the next five years or so, every weekend lunch would be a tray of sashimi for him. I in particular like it and sushi rolls. My husband I think is more into the crumbed stuff and marinated meat strips and noodles.
If you are planning to put together a Japanese-inspired meal, it is probably best to know the basic ingredients or cooking style, which makes it close to authentic Japanese cuisine.
Wasabi is a condiment traditionally served with sushi and sashimi. The ground root-like rhizome pungently flavors many foods in Japanese cuisine. Traditionally, wasabi is prepared bygrating the fresh rhizome against a rough surface. Fresh wasabi and wasabi paste not only add spicy hotness and sweetness, but also a gentle fragrance to enhance the taste of fresh fish, when mixed with soy sauce.
This traditional method of cooking involves basting foods with a mixture of soy sauce and mirin as it grills. The word comes from ‘teri’ meaning ‘gloss’ and ‘yaki’, to grill. This method of cooking can be used for chicken or beef. These days you can buy ready teriyaki marinade and sauce from the supermarket. I don’t mind using a bottled sauce to be honest, just like what I used here.
Sushi Rice (sushi mesi)
This short-grain rice, similar to glutinous rice, becomes sticky when cooked, which is especially good for Japanese sushi. Adding rice vinegar, sugar and salt during cooling to flavor the rice produces the traditional rice for sushi – sushi mesi.
Tempura, a traditional Japanese dish, consists of seafood and vegetables in a light, golden batter. In making tempura, there are three basic rules; use ingredients of prime quality, keep the oil at a constant temperature and always use ‘lumpy’ batter. The batter should be barely mixed and made just before required. This will give you a light and crispy tempura.
Miso soup is a breakfast staple for many Japanese, produced from miso paste, one of the oldest Japanese ingredients. Miso is a preserve of soya beans, salt and a blend of wheat and rice, or barley. White miso (shiro-miso) is slightly sweet, golden-colored, made from rice and is rarely available out of Japan. Red miso (aka-miso), made from barley, is aged the longest of the pastes and has a salty flavor. Black miso (kuro-miso) has a strong flavor and is made from soya beans.
These very dark-green seaweed sheets (nori) are an essential ingredient for making rolled sushi. Nori provides flavor as well as visual appeal and is low in fat and high in vitamins, protein, calcium and iron. It is also popular for temaki-sushi (hand-rolled sushi) – an easy, informal style of sushi anyone can enjoy making.
And speaking of making your own sushi, well, I had a go. Bought a sushi-roll kit and ingredients to roll with the rice, which was included in the kit. It was very handy as inside the box were the basic things you will need to make your own rolls; bamboo mat, sushi rice, powdered rice vinegar, yaki nori, soy sauce and even a small pack of wasabi. I have to say it sounds a lot easier looking at the photos and reading the instructions included in the kit. Boy did I struggle with my first roll!
And before I forget, serve a bowl of edamame as a side dish.
There you go. Hopefully, I got you inspired to turning Japanese on some meal times. 🙂