I’m taking a Japanese civilizations class that’s all about food. Today we were discussing kaiseki, which had like a ton of rules and etiquette bound to it. Kaiseki is basically often a “main dish” surrounded by smaller dishes and are on trays so it’s eaten off the ground. This was the beginnings of what we now consider Japanese national cuisine. It’s fascinating how it began!
Now why did I find this fascinating? In my approximately six years of studying Japanese culture and history formally, it never occurred to me that Japan as a nation was relatively young. Sure, it’s existed as a country, but a national identity did not exist for a long time. Japan remained splintered until Oda Nobunaga started to unify the provinces. This was then followed by Toyotomi Hideyoshi, and finally Tokugawa Ieyasu. It wasn’t until the Tokugawa were ruling that Japanese cuisine became more standard.
White rice? Surprisingly not that widely consumed until the late Tokugawa era because it was expensive and only the rich could afford it. It was a method of measuring wealth and power.
So what we consider “Japanese cuisine” now is actually a relatively young concept (really only started in the 1960s, after the world wars) and was previously only available to a select few. Commoners had to make do. It had a lot of rules, some of which still exist today!
It’s amazing how things suddenly fall into context. It gives me this happy feeling.
During my trip to the oriental market, I picked up some yakisoba noodles. I haven’t had yakisoba in forever, and truthfully, I wanted some. A lot. Today I finally got the chance to make some! I have a grand total of two more times to make it before I need to go get more noodles. Here’s the recipe for yakisoba! It’s quick and simple, and doesn’t take much effort. You can put almost anything in the yakisoba. More common additions are carrots, lettuce, and meat, but I put mushrooms in mine. You can also include onions or green onions or whatever you want, really. Whatever tastes good to you!
For the yakisoba noodles, I used Nama Yakisoba. It comes with all the noodles prepacked into nice little servings and has a sauce pack for each one. It’s really nice! It looks something like this:
- 1 tablespoon oil
- 1/4 cup water
- 1 package of yakisoba noodles
- 1 package yakisoba sauce
- 1 carrot
- 2 medium mushrooms
- 1 leaf lettuce
- Cut the lettuce, mushrooms, and carrot into small pieces.
- Heat up the oil in a frying pan on medium heat. Put noodles in and cook for 30 seconds.
- Pour water into the pan and soften the noodles with it. Put in the cut up vegetables and cook for 3-5 minutes. Before doing anything else, check to make sure the water has evaporated. If not, keep cooking everything.
- Put the sauce on the noodles and mix it well. Try to get the sauce on everything. If you don’t, don’t worry about it. The sauce will find a way on.
Looking back at my cooking, I realized I put in more carrots than I liked, so I may only use half of the carrot next time. I may also try to cook the vegetables first, then put in the oil and start cooking the noodles. The carrot tasted raw… I’m not a fan of raw carrots. To me, if I can poke a hole through a carrot easily, it’s probably not a cooked carrot. I’m going to put in meat next time, because chicken has become my new favorite meat and it would make this yakisoba taste great!
I don’t know what’s up next. Maybe curry? Maybe another thing from allrecipes where I decide to modify the recipe a bit? I know a really good breakfast food I should do…