I just finished making my usual meal – STIR-FRY! – for the week (which I will get to in a minute).
Right now, I have on my kerosene heater and new Uniqlo warm “room” clothes, which are navy blue sweatpants dotted with stars and a striped fleece shirt and fuzzy socks. I should be doing Japanese homework, but instead my feet are propped up on my desk, and I am looking through pictures from the weekend.
I went to Kanazawa, which is about 45 minutes away by train, in the neighboring prefecture Ishikawa. This city is – wow, wow, WOW – such a beauty. Even in the cold rain.
Sometime soon, I’ll have to share my pictures from my first visit to Kanazawa on a warm, sunny September day. Leah and I still went to the Kenroku-en and Kanazawa’s art museum. We also went out for Indian food, ate apple/persimmon/walnut baked oatmeal for breakfast, and, yes, indulged in some good beers and bourbon tasting. Then, there was today’s Thanksgiving dinner, which needs a whole post on itself.
As you can see, it was a really fun weekend.
I originally met Leah through food blogging, but she is also a former JET and has been super helpful in my move to Japan. And she was nice to invite me to her Thanksgiving dinner party.
Unfortunately, in my coming-out-of-culture-shock state, I cooked nothing for the Thanksgiving dinner. Ummmm, I bought cheese and crackers at the train station. I don’t even really like cheese and crackers. Oh, the irony! Yet, Leah is a force in the kitchen, and spending time with her this weekend inspired me to do some food blogging.
But what, I thought?
I have not been cooking much over here. Mostly stir-fries. It’s hard being creative as an illiterate person. Last weekend, I made cookies and used SALT instead of sugar.
At first, I was like, “Ahhh, I am just making stir-fries. Blah. blah. blah. That’s so boring!”
But they have become a staple of my diet over here. (Along with frozen pizza and mikans and white Kit Kat bars.) I came home after a weekend away, and this was my go-to meal. I had it for dinner and made enough to cover lunches for the next two days. Hopefully.
Alas, here is my standard stir-fry recipe.
Sarah’s Standard Stir-fry
Okay, this is nothing fancy, but it is quick, healthy, and versatile. All things that I need in a meal lately. I am breaking it down into five easy steps.
1. Meat (optional). I use boneless chicken breasts most of the time. I cook the meat first, in my wok by with a little oil. Sometimes, I will add a splash of soy sauce. After the meat is cooked, I remove it from the wok.
2. Vegetables. Go wild! I like carrots, green bean, and broccoli. Sometimes, I will add peppers or onions or try some Japanese vegetables, like seaweed. I like to add a bit of oil, then the veggies and a little water. Cover them with a lid to steam until they become tender and soft. Once they are cooked just right, add back in your meat and drizzle with sauce.
3. Sauce. The only thing I really measure. I’ve realized that most Japanese recipes use the sake-mirin-soy sauce combo in almost everything.
- 2 tablespoons sake
- 2 tablespoons mirin
- 3 tablespoons soy sauce
- 1 tablespoon honey (I use ginger honey)
- 2 cloves garlic, finely chopped
- 1-inch piece of ginger, peeled and finely chopped
4. Rice/Noodles. I will serve this over rice or noodles, or make fried rice. If I am making fried rice, I will add cold rice (day-old is the best!) to the cooked veggie/meat mixture.
Then, whisk two eggs in a bowl. (I just use the same one as I used for my sauce.) Push the stir-fry to the sides of the wok, then add the beaten eggs. I let the eggs cook first, sort of like making scrambled eggs, before I mix all of the ingredients together.
5. Toppings. I sometimes top my bowl with fried shallots, chopped scallions, roasted sesame seeds, and/or toasted sesame oil.