Olympic Cuisine (5 Japanese Recipes to Try)
In 2016 my friends and I agreed that we would make the journey across the Pacific and visit Japan for the next summer Olympics. Not only did we want to see the undoubtedly high tech and epic opening ceremony Japan was certainly going to have, we each had our own draw to the country. Personally I like their rich history of craftsmanship, carpentry, and attention to detail, and would love to experience it in person.
As the games got closer... COVID-19 struck.
Forced to cancel our well laid plans, and now that it is already the second half of 2021, I sit at home at watch the games on TV. So in an effort to bring Japan to me, I've decided to only make Japanese food for the duration of the Olympics (For dinner only, lunch is hit or miss).
Oriental food is pretty far outside my typical cooking wheelhouse, so it has been fun to learn and experiment with new ingredients and techniques. Here are some highlights of what I made and my thoughts on them.
Tonkatsu is essentially breaded pork served with a dipping sauce and rice. From what I've gathered this is a local favorite in Japan, so it seemed like a good place to start off this culinary journey. Once I figured out the breading process, it was a straightforward recipe. The trick is to make sure you have enough oil in the pan to ensure that the breading turns a nice golden color. Served with katsu or another sauce of your choice (I tried several, Sweet Baby Ray's Hawaiian sauce paired the best in my opinion). I'll probably make this again in the future as it is quite tasty, but it reheats poorly.
I already love teriyaki beef, so this was just an excuse to make more of it. I didn't get too fancy with the marinade process, just some purchased teriyaki marinade and a bag for 30 minutes or so does the trick. I pour all of it in a pan to fry it, ensuring it stays as juicy as possible. This is a classic recipe and it's too easy and tasty not to have in your arsenal.
Teriyaki Beef recipe
Sushi (Tomago, makizushi, futomaki)
I'm not a big sushi fan to begin with, but I thought I would be remiss to not try making it. Not only is it a very popular dish, but it is so completely different from how I cook that the thought of trying it out was very exciting (and honestly, I enjoyed making it more than I did eating it).
It turns out that making sushi is a very involved process! Especially when trying to make a variety of it.
Even with the help of two lackeys, it took around two hours to make the sushi. Slicing all the ingredients into strips, cooking the tomago, waiting on the rice to cool enough to mold it with your hands, it all just took a while. Not to mention the extra hour of cleanup due to the mountain of dishes produced by the process.
Still, I am glad that I tried it as the process itself was rewarding. Just hanging out with family, watching the Olympics, and figuring out sushi together.
Literally translated as "parent and child donburi," Oyakodon is a savory chicken and egg dish served over rice. This is a great, straightforward recipe that can be easily scaled to fit any number of servings, and it is fairly quick to make too. It tastes a lot better than it looks (at least on my end), though I struggled to get the nice golden color of chicken that everyone else seems to show. Definitely enjoyable though!
Sweet & Sour Chicken
Like Teriyaki beef, I absolutely love sweet and sour chicken. However, I have never made it myself, so it was good to learn. This is a great recipe to keep in your toolbox as it is a super simple and super flavorful one dish meal that everyone enjoys. Another great thing about this recipe is you can basically add anything you want to it and it will probably turn out good.