The ExPat Returneth

Sunday, January 8, 2012

Quick & Dirty Japanese: It's What's for Dinner

Raise your hand if you've included healthier eating in your New Year's resolutions.

Yep. Us, too. We love redundancy.

One of my favorite movies, Lost in Translation (2003), has a line that I love to mutter to my husband when he suggests a change in his diet that requires work from me.

"I would like to start eating like Japanese food."

If you've never seen the movie, the scene is a phone conversation between the disconsolate Bob Harris, working in Japan and having a midlife crisis, and his wife, Lydia, who has lost her patience with Bob, his absence, and his neuroses.
BobI don't know. I just want to... get healthy. I would like to start taking better care of myself. I'd like to start eating healthier -- I don't want all that pasta. I would like to start eating like Japanese food.
Lydia: [icily] Well, why don't you just stay there and you can have it every day?

The irony for our family is that we all love Japanese food and miss it horribly. Eight years ago when I learned to cook (I am a late bloomer), I began learning some simple Japanese dishes. I didn't cook the first two times we lived in Japan (because we had no kids and a 7-11 close at hand), so I was delighted to learn that cooking Japanese food isn't hard. The ingredients are limited and inexpensive. You can cook most of it quickly. And it's healthy. 

You don't have to be Martha Stewart to make home-style Japanese food.

Thank God.

On Wednesday's I'm going to share Japanese recipes. Do with it what you will and please comment if you have suggestions. Also feel free to send your own recipes to monkeyspace @ (without spaces). Any international cuisine is welcome. I cook quick and dirty with nothing fancier than a rice cooker. I promise to try yours without guarantee to do it well.

What's your favorite Japanese food? Have you tried to make it at home? How about other cuisines low in cost, quick and simple? 


  1. We made onigiri for supper this evening. Japanese rice, 'sprinkles' (furikake)and tuna mayo for the filling. The kids love it and it's so easy. Unfortunately we didn't have any nori.

    We've been home 4 years now and I am cooking less and less Japanese food - I am looking forward to being re-inspired by your recipes.

  2. Hi Helen!
    What part of Japan did you live in? We love onigiri, too. It's fun to make (you have given me a new post idea). We usually sprinkle it with sesame salt. My favorite in Japan was the tuna, though.

    I will do my best with the recipes. Feel free to comment and if you have any you'd like to share, I'd be happy to post them!