28 March 2012
The husband and I are great fans of Japanese food. And of Japan in general. We met during Japanese night class, and I’ve had the good fortune to visit there three times – once for our first holiday together, and twice while he was working in Tokyo for a year. Anyway, when we lived in Edinburgh, we did a lot of Japanese cooking, but beyond ordering in sushi for our wedding anniversary we haven’t really got the old chopsticks out much yet here in Berlin. So last night I thought I would whip up a quick Japanese midweek meal. It may sound and look very time consuming, but with a few preparations throughout the day and some freezer staples it only took me 15 minutes from the cooker to the dining table once the boy was in bed.
Store cupboard staples
- Frozen edamame (soy beans in the pod)
- Frozen takoyaki (octopus dumplings)
- Instant miso soup
- Genmaicha (Japanese green tea with toasted rice)
Pre-prep during the day
(I did this while the boy was eating his dinner – luckily he can feed himself by now)
- Soak the rice (1 cup dried rice for 2 people).
- Marinade 2 chicken breasts cut into 3cm wide strips using equal amounts of sake, mirin, soy sauce and fine sugar (I used 4 tablespoons of each).
- Mix your miso aubergine dressings: #1 one tablespoon each of sake, mirin, soy sauce and fine sugar; #2 one tablespoon of miso paste with one tablespoon of tap water.
Recipes to cook in the evening
- Teriyaki chicken
- Miso fried aubergine
Quick dinner assembly
- Wash the rice and set your rice cooker (or set it to cook on your normal cooker if you don’t have a rice cooker, though I’m afraid I can’t give you any tips then, I’m hopeless at cooking rice the normal way)
- Heat up a large flat pan with a tablespoon of vegetable oil and a dash of sesame oil on a medium heat and put the chicken on to fry.
- Heat up a wok or deep pan with a tablespoon of sesame oil and half a teaspoon of chilli flakes on a high heat. Once it is really hot add a small aubergine chopped in to cubes.
- Turn your chicken pieces to fry from the other side.
- Keep stirring your aubergine. It needs about 8 minutes.
- Once your chicken is cooked on both sides, pour in the marinade, cover your pan with a lid, turn down the heat to low and leave to cook until the chicken is cooked all the way through and tender.
- Remove the chicken from the pan and turn up the heat again to let the sauce thicken.
- Put the kettle on to boil.
- Your aubergine should be ready for its dressings now. Before you proceed, put a small bowl full of edamame in the microwave and set on high for 2 minutes.
- Pour dressing #1 on to the aubergine.
- When the edamame is done, put the takoyaki in the microwave on high for 3 minutes.
- Pour dressing #2 on to the aubergine.
- The kettle should have boiled by now. Empty a sachet of instant miso soup into a bowl or cup per person and pour boiled water on top.
- Brew up some genmaicha (or other tea of your choice). Green tea only needs about 2 minutes to steep.
- Your teriyaki sauce should have thickened by now and the miso aubergine will be ready. Remove everything from the heat.
- Serve everything up, sprinkle aonori (shredded seaweed) on the aubergine and takoyaki, coarse sea salt on the edamame, and dribble your sauce on the chicken (I forgot to do the sauce before taking the photograph). You can set it all out in little bowls Japanese style like we did, or just prepare a plate with a bit of everything per person.
- Enjoy with a cup of freshly brewed tea. Itadakimasu!