For me, Japanese food is just the absolute best. Fresh, light, and so healthy. If you have time to cook. Some days you just get too busy and find yourself eating six packets of dry ramen a day (obviously not me but I know people who’ve fallen as such).
So I am glad to inform you that there are slightly more nutritious (and super Japanese!) ways to feed yourselves on busy days!
Number one! Rice. Rice is such an important staple of the Japanese diet- and it’s easy to see why! A fantastic source of energy to get you through the day, easy to make in a rice cooker, and oh so very versatile!
First of all, you can use rice to spread a meal further! You’ve made a cup of miso? Eat a mouthful of rice for every sip to make it a meal! Leftover ramen soup? It’s low class to do so- but it can be your next meal (in the privacy of your own home), even taking a mouthful of rice with oden or salad will help it spread.
Another way is to make your bowl of rice it’s own meal. In this case you mix in a Japanese topping with your rice to add flavour.
My recommendations are;
Natto, mixed only with soy sauce instead of the sauces provided (an acquired taste but very healthy, I personally enjoy it).
Ume, sour Japanese plums that are reddish pink in colour, are another good topping- in small doses.
Onsen tamago, an egg very, very softly boiled that is very easy to mix into rice for a protein rich meal. I like to add soy sauce for extra flavour.
Furikake, this is flavouring made especially for rice, and often comes in chicken, egg, and fish flavours. You can sprinkle furikake to make rice less bland. It also has a closely related cousin made of seeds, though I can’t remember what it’s called.
Seaweed, there are many different kinds of seaweed available on the Japanese market, in all different shapes and flavours, that can really help you get your rice down.
Store bought tempura or katsu, placed on too of rice, can cost you as little as ¥150 a meal.
Please note that all the above toppings are often used by Japanese people for their everyday side dishes, not a whole meal, but I find all you need to add is a fried egg or salted fish and you find it should keep you going.
Number two! Convenience and grocery store meals. This is a really common and well known method, but grocery stores and convince stores both supply complete meals already made up. Though the normal supermarkets will provide these for cheaper than your local 7-11, the later in the day that you go the cheaper the will get (Japanese shops don’t really sell two day old food), so if you’re really lazy, it’s too easy to go but a pack of katsu chicken with some umeboshi onigiri (rice balls with plums) and mini sushi for ¥560, or a 6 pack of Imari for ¥150
Bonus recipe, miso!
Miso is also a major Japanese good staple, and so easy to make when you’re time poor! All you need is tofu, shallots, wakame seaweed, miso paste, and bonito flakes (optional for vegetarians)
1. Slice shallots and tofu
2. Scoop one table spoon miso paste into a bowl
3. Boil water in kettle and mix hot water with paste
4. Add all extras
5. Bam. Done.
Extra handy hint: miso paste is really quite tasty, I often use it as a dip for vegetables like cucumbers for a light snack.