Japanese Cuisine Month: halfway point

We’re halfway through the 1st month of our 12-months of cuisines challenge!

This has been incredibly fun to do, but also very challenging to keep up. I think I learned pretty early that expecting us to eat ONLY Japanese food for a month was unrealistic, especially when living in such a diversified area full of many alternate cuisine options. Still, the point of this is to exercise my skills and gain knowledge to more quickly cook delicious, nutritious, and easy meals so that we eat more healthy overall. At least for that goal, I think we are making decent progress.

I’ve learned that quickly sautéing some vegetables with meat is a quick and easy way to put food on a table. And that frying eggplant is a fast way to eat a lot of oil (lol). Miso soup is an easy quick-option for a side-dish to complete a meal. And many Japanese side dishes, while intimidating-looking (especially when so many are on the table at once), are easier to cook in bulk ahead of time and then serve little by little each day.

I’m also starting to see patterns when it comes to flavor options. The combination of soy sauce, sugar, sake, and/or mirin comes up in a lot of dishes (I personally like adding ginger to the combination too). Otherwise sesame or miso are alternate flavors used too. I’m sure there’s more variety to the Japanese palette. Perhaps these are just the easiest or most iconic of the flavors.

I did end up buying a small jar of umeboshi so at some point I’m going to have to learn how to cook with that. I didn’t like them when I was younger (something about salty fruit was just very unappealing) but I think as a condiment they hold potential.

We did, during one day in the 1st week, do some at-home yakitori. Yakitori is something I’m not sure I can write a ‘recipe’ on. It’s more of a ritual than a recipe where freshly cooked chicken (in our case, turkey) is eaten straight off the grill that that ultimate juicily cooked bite of delicious meat (honestly I’m not sure why this type of grilling isn’t more popular in the United States).

I haven’t tried any fried dishes (outside of the fried eggplant we did our first week) and there are other dishes like Japanese curry and takoyaki that are still on my to-do list. These things take more effort and don’t qualify as a “easy meal” in my opinion (frying as an “easy” option is debatable. If you’re used to the process then I’m sure it’s no trouble at all, but I always struggle and fail with it. Plus the cleanup can be a problem sometimes). There’s also noodle soups and other stews we have yet to include in our meal line-up. I think simmering dishes and stews are really the way to go if I want to maintain that “healthy” and “easy” criteria.

Let’s keep going with the 2nd half of the month!

What do you think we should cook in February?

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