Is it only me, or maybe anyone who grew up in the same/similar culture as mine, who feel a slight sense of guilt for cooking something too quick and easy? As a good cook in the Japanese society, you are supposed to (or trained to) devote a great deal of time in the kitchen, to make elaborate dishes. In fact, when we visit my parents’ place, my mum hardly ever sits down with us. She spends most of her time cooking in her kitchen, focusing on serving freshly made dishes one after the other, right from the stove. And she does it with great pleasure. She is very proud of it.
I know this is quite the reverse of the modern thinking, and I’m not saying at all that this is how things should be. I hate it, to be forced into the framework of becoming a stereotypical ideal woman, and try hard to push the pressure away always. But on the other hand, this sense of guilt always comes with it. No matter how much I am exposed to the feminism movement, I just cannot change the way I instinctively feel. It is ingrained in my bones, having grown up in the society with high expectations for girls to become a good mum/wife/woman. The society expects it, and your fellow female peers expect it to a certain extent, still in the 21st century.
Well, it takes about three minutes to make this yakitori-don if you already have your rice ready. I bought pre-cut chicken thigh (guilt), don’t even have to marinate it (another guilt), stir-fry it and quickly season at the end. Voila, it’s done (within three minutes). I just boiled egg rather than make omelet (guilt), packed it with unseasoned vegetables (guilt). On top of this, I packed frozen apple mousse and mashed sweet potato from the freezer for dessert (see, I am now officially guilty).
Recipe for the three minute Yakitori donburi:
Ingredients (for 2 servings):
- Diced chicken thigh (100g)
- 1 table spoon of Japanese sake (or white wine)
- 3/4 table spoon of soy sauce
- 1 table spoon of mirin (if you don’t have mirin, just a sprinkle of sugar instead, with a bit more sake)
- In a medium sized frying pan on medium heat, quickly stir-fry the chicken thigh. No oil needed
- Once the chicken becomes golden, add the sake until it starts evaporating
- Add the soy sauce & mirin and cook it until the sauce thickens – this takes about a minute or so, depending on the heat
- Serve it on top of freshly cooked rice with sliced nori seaweed
We had a couple of guests over for dinner at the end of April. They were visiting Tokyo from the Netherlands, and I wanted to offer them a true Japanese experience. I cooked homely meal, with marinated pork, tofu salad, light-fried aubergine, and corn rice.
The dinner was lovely, with home cooked food, champagne, great company and interesting, grown-up conversation.
Our daughter sneaked out of her bedroom a few times, trying to be a part of it. She asked for corn rice in her pajamas, but I declined her request and told her I’d pack it for her bento the next day. She seemed to be convinced and went to bed finally.
Here is the bento with the leftovers for our cheeky girl.
My daughter promised to eat the savory tortilla wraps first, and then the sweet ones.
When we came home I asked her if she kept her promises. She grinned and told me she ate the jam ones first and the ham ones at the end.
I appreciate her honesty.
My daughter loves fish. She said she could eat it for lunch every day.
On the days I pack any type of fish in her bento, I can easily detect this fishy scent from her when I pick her up at school. Due to the lack of perfection in using chopsticks, she uses fingers for support, hence fishy fingers. On top of that, to my dismay, she wipes those fishy fingers on her T-shirt and/or shorts, no matter how many times I’ve asked (demanded) her not to do so.
Oblivious to my anxiety, she happily finished all of her bento today and came running into my arms. Having taken a few steps back I surrendered and held her tightly, sharing that wonderful smell of seafood on top of my Chanel Coco.
My daughter sometimes gets fussy with spinach or komatsuna greens. When that happens I usually mix it (boiled, chopped & drained) in to the rice. With a bit of salt to taste, it transforms to be one of her favorite rice dishes.