Thursday, May 13th, 2010
Now that we've covered three of the basics of Japanese cooking, rice, dashi and miso soup, I wanted to talk about how to build a Japanese meal. I thought about going straight into okazu "side dish" recipes to go along with your rice and miso soup, but I thought I'd give a brief explanation of how to build a basic Japanese meal first.
Japanese meals consists of many different dishes in small portions, making them very balanced and healthy meals. Rice, as I mentioned before, is the center piece of the meal and is usually placed in the front left. Miso soup is also an important part of the meal and is placed in the front right. There is also usually some type of protein (usually grilled/fried fish or meat) and a few side dishes called okazu, which surround the other plates. The chopstick rest is in the front on the left.
As far as dishes go, Japanese food requires many dishes in different sizes and shapes. Small little dishes are essential since they will be used for okazu and sauces. Presentation is an important aspect of Japanese food. I would go as far as to say that presentation is almost equally as important as taste. To make your dishes as authentic as possible, try to invest in the right plates and dishes to make your Japanese dining experience fun.
You don't have to spend a lot of money for small little dishes. Japanese 100 yen (dollar) stores have been exploding around the world. In the United States, Daiso has locations all over CA and Seattle Washington. They have made their products available online for residents in the United States.
This week I'm going to build a ginger pork with cabbage meal with and kabocha as an additional okazu. So far, I'm checking rice and miso soup off the list.