お腹、空いた!

28 Sep

Every once in a while, my appetite goes from me-sized voraciousness to Michael Phelps-sized voraciousness. Meaning, I want to eat everything ever all the time, even if I’m so full my stomach hurts. The last week or so has been one of those weeks, so today I’m going to talk about food.

First of all, getting fed in Japan is very easy. On top of the restaurants that are everywhere, you can walk into a 7/11, Lawson’s, Family Mart, et. al. and pick up pasta, bento (Japanese-style lunchboxes), onigiri (triangular balls of rice with stuff inside, wrapped in seaweed), noodles, sandwiches, and much more for less than 500 yen a piece. I’m sure there are a good bit of preservatives in there, but it’s real food, and it’s delicious. Especially the onigiri. Now that I’ve learned to like the seaweed, I’m officially in love with tuna-mayo onigiri. Another thing I picked up recently was “omu-raisu doria,” which is an omelette filled with rice and meat, with cheese on top and a red sauce on the side. Drool.

On top of ridiculously easy-to-obtain pre-cooked deliciousness, cooking at home has been really easy and fun this semester. This is partially thanks to CET’s “Room of Requirement.” (Take heed, future Osaka CET-ers!) The students from last semester bought cooking and living supplies, but when they left they left everything in Japan, so this room is full of tons of stuff–pots, pans, utensils, etc. Therefore, my kitchen is ridiculously well-stocked.

The other thing that makes it so easy has to do with the way you buy things here. In the States, we typically go to the grocery store about once a week, stock up, and don’t go back until the next week. In Japan there’s no space to stock up, so unless you have leftovers you’re probably going to go to the supermarket. Now, because of that (this is the magic thing!) you can buy foods–specifically, meat–in much smaller portions and therefore you can just make something on the spot.

So, I’ve had a ton of fun making delicious food for myself. Japanese-style cooking is overall pretty simple, so I’ve been able to try a lot of interesting things. So here, for your viewing pleasure, are a few of my favorite (and super-easy!) recipes so far.

First up is a little something called ochazuke. You take a bowl of rice, add toppings (you can buy packets in the grocery store: this one was seaweed as well as some other things. I also added some veggies), and then–here’s the kicker–pour hot green tea over it and eat. It makes this wonderful, hot, rice soup with a delicious-tasting broth.
Next is udon. You can buy these noodle pre-cooked at the supermarket for about 25 yen, and then all you have to do is throw them in hot water to warm them up and add broth and other ingredients. For this bowl, I added some fresh veggies and also some beef and vegetable teriyaki (ish) stir-fry from the night before. In Japan udon tends to be served without too many extra things, so I was happy to be able to change up the recipe a bit. (Ps. udon is so much more delicious than ramen)

Finally, we have tonight’s (and last night’s) dinner. Now, if you ask anyone who’s known me for a while, they would know that I have been a really picky eater since forever. But since I came to Japan, that’s all changed. There are too many interesting foods for me to be picky about them. I mean, there are still foods I think are disgusting (katsu-don with mayonnaise on top!), but I don’t just write off foods because I’ve never had them before.

In any case, this dish combines two things I have recently discovered to be delicious: kimchi (spicy fermented cabbage) and tofu. Best of all, all you have to do is cut up the tofu and throw it and the kimchi into a frying pan, stir-fry, and serve. It really spices up the tofu, which is super bland on its own. And then the rice is for consoling your aching taste buds after attacking them with kimchi. I also made it cute by adding cut carrots, because I am OCD like that.

And of course, the leftovers go in my bento for lunch the next day 🙂

Basically, I have a happy tummy.

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4 Responses to “お腹、空いた!”

  1. Lys Murray September 28, 2010 at 2:41 pm #

    I’m starving!

  2. Alison September 30, 2010 at 7:47 pm #

    Diane,
    I love reading your blog. This food entry is especially delightful. I actually brought ochazuke for lunch today! I’m thinking we should have a Japanese dinner when you return. I am glad you are having a wonderful time and embracing this experience.

  3. Charlie Zevon September 30, 2010 at 8:14 pm #

    Di, Thanks for sharing about your food journeys. You even made the kimchi and tofu sound pretty tasty. If you find yourself at a Sushi bar and don’t feel like fish I’m sure you would like the Tamago. It’s a small, sweet omelette on rice, nigiri sushi style.

  4. Carole Deily October 1, 2010 at 6:34 pm #

    We like pieces of firm tofu with sliced green onions on top and low-sodium soy sauce. We also like the tofu with avocado, tomato, green onion and vinegar and oil — like a salad. These are cold dishes.
    When you return, you can open a restaurant.
    Love,
    Carole

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