Monday, March 21, 2005

Oh-so-very Japanese...

In general, I don't think of myself as a traditional Japanese girl. I am very assimilated, and most people I meet don't realize that I was born and raised in Japan. But my culinary preferences speak loudly of my origin - I cook Japanese food when I cook for myself.

By Japanese food, I don't mean the sushi's, the teriyaki plates, and the tempura's. I mean Japanese food made every day in the homes of Japanese families today. Modern Japanese cooking is a true blend of culinary influences that were incorporated and adjusted to suit the Japanese taste buds.

Tonight, I was trying to think of a quick and easy meal to make - either quick to make or with minimum hands-on time. I chose the minimum hands-on time approach, since I was eager to get back to finishing work I left off. And this is what I ended up with:

Doesn't look like Japanese food to you? It is very much Japanese. This is a typical example of what we call "Wa-fuu (Japanese-style) XXXXXX", where the Xs are filled in with the names of the authentic versions. This one happens to be a Wa-fuu risotto with brown rice. It's a lot soupier than the Western risotto and slightly closer to porridge, but let's not sweat the details.

You might be wondering what's Japanese about this dish - well, the dish is definitely in the spirit of Japanese fusion cuisine. Fusion sounds so trendy, but that's really what it is. We mix and match what we like about any food and make it ours by using our favorite seasonings and ingredients along with the original ingredients. We take what we have and modify the original recipe to accommodate the ingredients available to us. If authenticity is lost in the process, heck, we don't worry about it!

This is a super-speedy dish that took me maybe ten minutes of hands-on work. I always save the broth after we have shabu-shabu or other hot-pot dishes at home or when I boil meat balls. I have bags of frozen broth in the freezer, and whenever I make risotto, porridge, or anything else like that, I just thaw the bag of broth and start adding stuff into it. Today, I cooked the brown rice in a post-shabu-shabu broth with some dried shiitake mushrooms and sake (I don't drink it anymore, but I use it liberally in my cooking!), added some more mushrooms to it, and then finished it off with a bunch of various vegetables I got at the Pleasanton farmer's market this weekend. I seasoned the risotto/porridge with soy sauce right before serving. I also added grated roasted sesame seeds right before I started eating.

Doesn't sound like the typical Japanese food? Stay tuned for more reports on these kind of home-style Japanese dishes!

1 comment:

The Papa Bear said...

You're the Princess of fast home-cooked meals! I'm looking forward to your informative posts on Japanese food.