Updated: Nov 30, 2020
What does dinner time in Japan usually look like? Sushi is usually the first thing that comes to mind in the American consciousness as Japanese food, but it is hardly something that actual Japanese people eat on the regular. Kind of like fondue or tapas, sushi is something that Japanese set aside for special occasions. For day to day eating, dinner is a far less fancy affair. Food is usually served in small dishes with a separate bowl for each side. Miso soup and rice are constants, with the other dishes consisting of a type of protein, usually fish, and a side or two involving a vegetable.
Pictured is a typical Japanese dinner for two made using ingredients available for purchase in Maido’s grocery store section. It features ika kamameshi rice, miso soup, salted grilled mackerel, and two side dishes-- one with seasoned steamed chicken and eggplant and the other a type of fish cake called mocchiri satsuma. In addition to being delicious the entire meal is relatively simple to prepare. Check the following prep notes for a dish-by-dish breakdown and get started on bringing Japanese home-cooking to your very own kitchen!
Miso Soup with Asari Clams
Mix 2 tablespoons of Ryotei no Aji Miso with Dashi into 2 cups of water. Add a handful of defrosted Shelled Whole Asari Clams and simmer on low heat while preparing the other dishes. Be careful not to bring the miso soup to a boil, instead keeping it just below boiling temperature. Allowing miso soup to fully boil changes the taste of the miso paste and destroys the subtle fragrance of the dashi.
Salted Grilled Saba Mackerel
Defrost the mackerel in the refrigerator overnight, then allow to come to room temperature for about 30 minutes prior to cooking. Cover the fillets generously with sea salt, then pan fry, covered skin-side down on medium heat until the fish is fully cooked and comes apart easily with a fork. You can either de-bone the fish prior to cooking, or use chopsticks to pull the bones out while eating.
Ika Kamameshi Rice
Cook 2 cups short grain white rice, according to stovetop package directions, or in a rice cooker. Fluff the rice after it has had about 10 minutes to settle after cooking, but while it is still hot. Stir in the kamameshi mix packet until the kamameshi ingredients are distributed evenly. Yamayo ika kamameshi was used for the meal in the photo, but any of the Yamayo kamameshi mixes can be used this way.
Seasoned Chicken and Eggplant
Cut 1 medium sized eggplant (about 100g or 3.5oz) and 1 raw chicken breast into bite sized pieces. Transfer the chicken and eggplant to a microwave safe bowl and cover loosely with plastic wrap. Microwave on high for 4 minutes and 30 seconds, until the chicken is fully cooked. Pour one packet of Marutomo Tori Nizoreni no Moto sauce over the chicken and eggplant, and stir to coat evenly.
Heat defrosted Mocchiri Satsuma in the toaster oven on the broil setting until the edges become crispy and golden brown. Grate one inch of fresh ginger and use it as a seasoning for mocchiri satsuma if desired.