I love eating out! hehe. The whole experience of being seated at a cozy table, being in good company, ordering a coffee if it’s breakfast or yummy appetizers on a special occasion, etc., etc. But there’s also something about making food at home that’s equally satisfying, in a very different way. It just feels … efficient It’s the same kind of feeling you get from making something you need with your own hands, as opposed to ordering it from a store. By eating at home, I don’t necessarily mean making the meal completely from scratch. Even cobbling leftovers into a strange-ass but totally delicious meal can be rewarding to me. Or, in the case of this past Saturday, making an “instant” meal from this Japanese rice mix packet.
This was our instant “kamameshi,” a Japanese-style rice dish that’s typically eaten from a communal “kama,” hence the name. “Kama” translates into “rice cooker” or “kettle,” and “meshi” means rice. According to Wikipedia: “Kamameshi came to refer to a type of Japanese pilaf cooked with various types of meat, seafood, and vegetables, and flavored with soy sauce, sake, or mirin.”
You just mix the content of the packets with dry rice, then cook it up in an electric rice cooker. We ended up using two kinds of rice since we didn’t have enough of any one kind: 1) this awesome Yam and Multi-Grains Rice (the GreenMax brand from Taiwan is my favorite!) and 2) arborio rice. I was a little worried about the arborio rice in the cooker, but it turned out perfectly yummy. In fact, it might have made the kamameshi even chewier and creamier than usual.
Then we added a piece of samma fish on top (marinated canned fish that is kind of like the Asian equivalent of sardines). Here was the full meal – refreshing, cold, paper-thin bamboo from a can and a side salad of spinach + feta cheese with Japanese sesame salad dressing. YUM!
In case you’re interested in trying this yourself, this is the rice mix we used, which you can get from the heaven-sent Japanese Hana Grocery store at 17th & U St NW. It’s a tiny, cramped little store full of fun Asian goods like furikake, yama and instant ramen. Last summer, Charlie and I biked over there pretty regularly to pick up essential ingredients. And Chops would carry on with the little Japanese lady behind the counter. “Ohayou gozaimasu!” “Genki desu-ka?” “Genki desu!”
This is the Green Max rice we used and that I recently discovered and swear by. It’s healthy, full of multi-grain nutrients and doesn’t use color pigmentation or artificial flavorings. Unfortunately the rice mix above does include a little MSG, but I guess you gotta pick your battles hehe.
Mentai Mayo Pasta
While we’re on the topic of instant Japanese meals to make at home, here is another one that is DEE-licious to me hehe. You can also get this at Hana Grocery. It’s a delightful, slightly spicy cod roe sauce (pink in color) that you mix into cooked pasta, along with bits of dried flavorings and nori flakes. This one actually doesn’t have any MSG in it. It’s pretty dangerously tasty, as I often end up overeating because I don’t know when to stop!