Cut vegetables in advance for quick, tasty meals
USING vegetables can be a hassle when preparing meals for one. It often takes time to cook them and it can be hard to eat them all.
Cooking expert Yuko Musashi recommends cutting vegetables in advance and cooking them with chopped meat or eggs. This approach is convenient and helps you make balanced meals.
"You can prepare meals quickly by using ingredients that can be easily cooked, such as finely cut vegetables and hashed meat," Ms Musashi said. "It's easy even if you're too tired to feel like preparing food when you get home."
An important trick is shredding or cutting vegetables into chunks whenever you have time, placing them in bags and storing them in the refrigerator. Different kinds of mushrooms can be kept in the same bag.
You can prepare balanced dishes if you use vegetables much more than meat, and you can eat a larger volume of them by seasoning ingredients lightly to make the best use of their natural flavours.
Ms Musashi suggests several dishes using meat, both of which allow bland vegetables to take in the meat's umami so they're just right. If you use eggs instead of meat, their mild flavour can bring together various kinds of vegetables that can be hard to finish, such as carrots.
You can try any vegetables in place of those used in these recipes, as long as they cook through easily, such as komatsuna Japanese spinach, bell peppers and shungiku leaves.
"When you simmer ingredients lightly, the liquid contains their umami, so you can enjoy the liquid as well," Ms Musashi said. "You can also add chikuwa and other processed seafood products."
LIGHTLY SIMMERED MUSHROOMS, PORK AND BOK CHOY
Remove the bases of 50g of enoki mushrooms and half a package of shimeji mushrooms. Tear the mushrooms into pieces.
Break up half a package of maitake mushrooms into pieces.
Wash a bunch of bok choy and drain off the water. Slice the thick stems and cut the leaves and thinner stems into chunks.
Put all the mushrooms in one bag and the bok choy in another, then put in the refrigerator.
Pour two-thirds of a cup of dashi broth into a pan. Add the thick bok choy stems and mushrooms and then a finely sliced half red pepper.
Simmer them over medium heat. When the broth boils, add 100g of pork cut into bite-size pieces and add the rest of the bok choy when the meat is browned.
Add half a tablespoon each of soya sauce, mirin and sake, along with a one-third teaspoon of salt, before simmering for another 30 seconds to one minute.
SIMMERED VEGETABLE LEFTOVERS WITH EGG
Shred one-fourth of a carrot, slice one-fourth of an onion and cut one-fourth of a package of nira chives into 3cm lengths. Put them in separate bags and place in the refrigerator.
Pour two-thirds of a cup of mentsuyu sauce and two-thirds of a cup of water into a small pan over medium heat.
Add the carrot, onion and one-third of a package of bean sprouts. After simmering for two to three minutes, add the nira with a bit of salt and turn up to high heat. Pour two beaten eggs in and turn off the heat when the eggs are half-cooked.
STIR-FRIED, LIGHTLY SIMMERED WHOLE LETTUCE AND BEEF
Wash a small ball of lettuce, drain off the water and tear it into four chunks, then put the pieces in a bag and place in the refrigerator.
Season a pan with half a tablespoon of oil over medium heat and stir-fry 100g of beef chopped into bite-size pieces.
When the meat is browned, add the lettuce and half a tablespoon of sake and cover the pan with a lid to simmer them over low heat for about one minute.
Remove the lid, turn up to high heat and add half a tablespoon of sugar and one tablespoon of soya sauce before mixing.
THE YOMIURI SHIMBUN/ASIA NEWS NETWORK