５分のひろご飯・Japanese Lunch in 5 minutes
Like nearly every working professional, I’m always looking for a way to balance my demanding work schedule with making time for a healthy, balanced lunch or breakfast. I usually only eat twice a day (lunch/brunch & dinner), dashing downstairs to my kitchen to devour whatever thing I could find in a 2-minute window.
However, that wasn’t working out so well for my health or my waistline. As a Japanese learner, I’m naturally interested in Japanese cooking, especially home-style everyday meals. Sadly, very little is written about them in English, and you will never see them in a restaurant!
After discovering the book Japanese Women Never get Old or Fat and the websites Just One Cookbook and Just Hungry, I finally had all the information I needed to cook fast, nutritious meals for myself in a 外人〔がいじん）・”Gaijin” - Foreigner kitchen.
Japanese Cooking in an American kitchen
This is way easier than you might think. Most of the ingredients that make food distinctly “Japanese” are non-perishable and easily obtained online.
Additionally, most Japanese kitchens are far, far smaller than what us big Americans are used to, so odds are you already have more than enough space and kitchen tools to pull this off.
This may seem like a lot of steps the first time, but it’s actually not. Try it a few times, and you will get into your own flow of cooking each item very quickly!
My Japanese Breakfast/Lunch
- Miso Soup
- 1 cup cooked rice
- 4-6 oz white fish
- 1 “scrambled” rolled egg (aka, Tamagoyaki), details below
- Iced Matcha
- “Laver” snack sheets (not pictured)
- 1 bunch of Scallions
- A Rice Cooker (you can cook rice on stovetop, but FAR more difficult and time-consuming)
- George Foreman Grill (or a small frypan, but much longer and messier)
- Cutting board and Knife
- A NINJA blender (for matcha)
- Tamagoyaki pan or a regular small frying pan/egg pan
- Tin Foil
- Small bowl for rice
- Medium bowl for soup
- Small plate for eggs/fish
- Teapot or electric tea kettle
I’ve linked my favorite brands from Amazon where I could.
- Your favorite dried soup mix. I like miso soup that has wet red or white miso packets (versus all dried) but you could also use Osuimono (clear mushroom-ey soup) or any other nice light broth soup.
- 1 cup Japanese Rice, already cooked (see pre-prep, below)
- ~1lb white fish, whatever is fresh and local. Pictured above is Talapia - cheap and easy to get near me.
- 1 Egg. Consider investing in cage-free organic grain-fed eggs. Your eyes and body will notice the quality difference!
- Matcha powder. It mustn’t be fancy or expensive.
- 1 pack of snack-size “Laver” - aka, Nori.
- Soy Sauce. I like asakuchi shoyu (slightly sweetened soy sauce), but any brand will do.
- Rice Vinegar - be careful not to buy the sweetened (“seasoned”) vinegar often used to make sushi rice.
- Optional: Nori flakes - used on top of just about anything. :)
1. Cook & Freeze Rice
A key reason why this is so fast is that you cook the rice ahead of time, and freeze it into perfect-sized “snowballs”. I usually cook a full 8-cup batch of rice at a time and portion/freeze them on a weeknight or weekend.
2: Portion Fish & Freeze
Buy the freshest white fish you can find when you go grocery shopping, and buy enough for a week. As soon as you get home, portion the fish into small 4-6 oz portions, and wrap each one tightly in saran wrap. Then, put all the wrapped fish in a larger freezer-grade zip-loc bag.
You can pull out a portion to thaw slowly in the fridge for the next day, or if you forget, about 10 minutes in lukewarm water will do the trick too.
3: Store Scallions Properly
Fresh scallions add a ton of flavor to your fish and rice, but can go bad quickly in your fridge if you don’t store them properly.
- Remove scallions from the bag, but keep the bag. Remove anything tying the scallions together, and rinse under cold water.
- Fill a drinking glass 1/2 of the way with water.
- Place the scallions, un-trimmed and white-side down, into the glass.
- Cover with the plastic bag you brought them home in.
- Place the cup in the fridge. Your scallions will now last for at least a week.
1. Pre-Heat Grill.
If using the recommended George Foreman Grill, start pre-heating it now.
2. Chop Scallion
One scallion will be more than enough. Trim the end and any wilted green bits and cut into small pieces.
3. Prep Fish
- Pull a length of aluminum foil about the length of your grill when opened (about 12 inches)
- Place portion of fish in center of Foil.
- Add a dash of soy sauce and a small handful of scallions to the fish
- Wrap the foil so that the fish is wrapped in a pocket, with the top of the foil left open. This will direct the steam and juices upward, keeping your grill clean while cooking.
- Set aside.
4. Heat water for soup
In your tea kettle or electric teapot, start heating up about 1-2 cups of water to almost boiling.
5. Empty dried soup contents into bowl
Get your bowl ready for your hot water. If your soup has a wet miso packet, wait to put that in last.
6. Prep your Matcha
If you are also enjoying iced matcha, get that ready now: - Add 1-2 teaspoons to the NINJA - Add about a cup of cold water, and a splash of honey or cinnamon to taste
Wait to blend until the end.
7. Prepare your Omelett
You can either get fancy and try your hand at Tamagoyaki, or you can just make a seasoned scrambled egg. Tastes great either way!
7A. Tamagoyaki version
Tamagoyaki Recipe Note, I usually skip the bamboo-mat step and just loosely roll it up with a fork or chopsticks. Especially if you are only using one egg, this is much faster and easier.
7B. Scrambled Egg version
- In a small bowl or carafe, crack the egg.
- add a splash of soy sauce and Mirin.
- Whisk with a fork or chopsticks until well blended
Do not start cooking your egg yet!
8. Microwave Rice
- Remove rice ball from plastic bag/container, and place in small bowl
- Micorwave on High for about 2 minutes.
9. Start Cooking Fish
Once your rice is in the microwave, put your fish on the grill. Make sure the open end is face up, between the two halves of the grill. This allows the fish to release steam without making a mess of your grill.
10. Start cooking Egg
Now that both your rice and fish are cooking, start on your omelette. Be sure your stove is not on very high heat - you want the omelette to cook a little slowly than normal. Medium-Low heat is usually good.
Wrap Up: All together Now
- Your rice should finish close to the same time your omelette is done.
- Plate egg and lightly season rice as you like. I usually add a touch of soy sauce, vinegar, and some nori flakes.
- Your fish should very nearly be ready. It usually takes about 3 minutes to cook. If it was partially frozen, allow about 5 minutes.
- Your tea kettle should now also be ready. Pour water into soup bowl, and mix in miso if applicable.
Now’s the time to whip up your matcha, right before drinking, so it doesn’t separate.
Enjoy your rice on top of a sheet of snack-size laver, with a touch of egg or fish on top.