Tips for Living Alone: 3 Easy Japanese Recipes for First Time Cooks

Tips for Living Alone: 3 Easy Japanese Recipes for First Time Cooks


Japanese Food & Cuisine

Are you planning to live alone soon? If so, do you plan to make your own meals? Or do you think you’ll find it troublesome and just eat out or buy meals from convenience stores all the time?

While dining out or buying meals can be less troublesome, doing it every day can run up your food expenses quite significantly. If you’re living alone for the first time and you’ve never cooked for yourself before, we’d like to introduce to you some delicious dishes that you can make on your own easily and inexpensively.

Ginger Pork “Shogayaki” – the secret is in the seasoning

Ginger pork or “Shogayaki” is a Japanese favorite loved by almost everyone (except probably vegans and vegetarians). It’s a perfect dish that’s not only tasty, but also very easy to make.

The most important ingredient is the pork. If you like a more savory flavor, choose pork belly slices (known in Japanese as “buta bara”). If you prefer leaner meat, use pork shoulder slices (“buta kata rosu”).

How to make:
1.Fry the pork slices in a frying pan
2.Add the seasoning to flavor

And it’s done! You also only need a frying pan and a bowl to mix the meat in the seasoning, so washing the dishes should also be a breeze.

To make the all-important seasoning, mix ginger paste (you can buy it in a tube or make it fresh on your own), soy sauce, cooking sake, and mirin. Personally, I also like to add oyster sauce. The umami from the oysters makes for a richer flavor. Oyster sauce is a versatile seasoning that can also be used in other simple dishes like yakisoba (fried noodles) and stir-fried vegetables, so it’s a good idea to always have one at home.

Oyakodon – chicken and egg rice bowl

One dish probably more popular than ginger pork is “oyakodon”. Its name means “parent and child rice bowl”, and is made of rice topped with simmered chicken and egg (hence “parent and child”). While it is by definition made with chicken, some people have been known to make it using pork or beef.

Making oyakodon is quite simple. You just simmer the chicken pieces in a stock called “warishita” (made with dashi, cooking sake, mirin, and sugar), mix in a beaten egg, and serve on top of rice.

The key to making delicious oyakodon is to fry the chicken to a golden brown before simmering. Use boneless chicken leg meat with the skin attached, and fry the pieces on the skin side to remove excess fat and make the skin crispy. Frying the chicken first also helps ensure that the chicken is fully cooked inside after simmering (a common mistake in inexperienced cooks).

How to make:

1.Fry the chicken pieces in a frying pan
2.Add the warishita stock until the chicken pieces are immersed around 1/3 of the way.
3.Turn up the heat until it boils, then pour in the beaten egg.
4.Simmer until you get the desired consistency of the egg.

Some Japanese prefer their oyakodon with creamy, half-cooked eggs. This requires a bit of skill to make, and you can refer to professional cookbooks or recipes if you want try making it.

Quick and Easy “Zubora Pasta”

If you’re living alone and usually cook your own meals, you’ve probably had this experience a few times: You open the refrigerator and there’s nothing to cook with. No meat, fish, or vegetables, just some seasonings and canned beverages.

But if you have some pasta and canned tuna stocked in your cupboard, then you’re already all set for this simple pasta dish. The Japanese call it “zubora pasta”, and it’s very easy to make.

Simple canned tuna pasta

Canned tuna is cheap and usually sold in several cans, so it’s easy to stock up on them. The key to making simple but delicious pasta with canned tuna is the following:

①Don’t throw away the oil in the canned tuna. It will make the tuna flavor cover more of your pasta, and also make the pasta more slippery and easy to slurp.
②Mix it with mentsuyu (Japanese noodle soup base) and mayonnaise. These go well together with the canned tuna. Mentsuyu contains dashi stock which adds a savoriness not found in soy sauce.

Other ingredients that go well with pasta are canned mackerel and natto. Why not try experimenting with your favorite ingredients to create your own simple pasta recipe?

Author’s Remarks

We just showed you some easy recipes recommended for people living alone. The writing may be a bit rough and oversimplified at times, but we hope you find it useful if you’re planning to make your own meals. Happy cooking!

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