Many people think that because Japanese food is oftentimes rather pricey in a restaurant that it is incredibly expensive to make. The fact is that because Japanese cooking is oftentimes very simplistic, it is actually quite easy to make and many dishes require only a few ingredients. The other misconception is that these ingredients are highly exotic, and difficult to find. This is not so, depending on the availability of different markets in your area. This article will shed some light on how you can cook Japanese food for less, utilizing your resources.
As previously mentioned, simple is best when it comes to cooking Japanese food on a budget. Many of their dishes, such as teriyaki or ton-katsu, are incredibly simple and use ingredients often used in American cooking. Keep dishes to under five ingredients, understanding that if you have high-quality ingredients, many different flavors are unnecessary, and oftentimes overwhelming. Dishes that are incredibly simplistic include Tonkatsu or Torikatsu (fried pork or chicken cutlets served with rice and a thick barbeque-like sauce).
When I say “big,” I mean “a lot.” There are many Japanese dishes that can be cooked for a crowd-or even for just one family, that can last for a couple days. Nabe dishes consist of a pot of broth that vegetables and meat are dipped into. Shabu-Shabu is a popular dish, and can include a variety of different vegetables. The trick is to pick only three or so that you really enjoy, and stick to vegetables that are in season. Popular vegetables for use in Shabu-Shabu include Bok Choy, bamboo shoots, and carrots. Thinly sliced beef is dipped into the broth until cooked to taste. If you’re a vegetarian, consider substituting tofu instead.
Japanese food includes a few different types of noodles that are absolutely delicious, and can even be far healthier than standard pasta. Udon is a thicker, heartier noodle. Soba, on the other hand, is a buckwheat noodle that can be incredible refreshing. Somen is a thinner noodle that is fantastic served cold with ponzu sauce and vegetables. A soup made with these noodles is incredibly inexpensive, but can hold the same great flavors present in Japanese cooking-particularly if you add tempura shrimp or vegetables to it. This is also fantastic comfort food!
Because there are so many different dishes among Japanese cooking, it is easy to find one that is delicious, authentic, and affordable to make. If you have an Asian grocery store or market in your area, be sure to check it out. Many of the same products you may find for ridiculous prices in your local grocery store may be substantially cheaper in these ethnic markets. Don’t be afraid to try new things and explore Japanese cooking to its fullest. It is a delicious cuisine that really is beautiful in its simplicity and quality.