It’s summertime, and the last thing you want to do is slave over a hot stove, so what kind of meal can you pull together that turns leftovers and other stuff you’ve already got in your fridge into a feast for the senses?
Easy Japanese Lunchbox Supper
Rice (warm or cold)
Snap Peas with Soy-Lemon Dressing (5 min to prep the snap peas + 10 min for the dressing)
Sweet Sesame Greens (10 min)
Japanese Quick-Pickled Onions (these are best—and most colorful—if left in fridge overnight, but they will be fresh-pickled as soon as the brine cools)
Yakitori Chicken Mini-burgers (use frozen leftovers* or 45 min prep time from scratch)
Savory Simmered Mushrooms (below) (25 min)
Savory Simmered Mushrooms
I use these with abandon in mixed green salads, so I usually double this recipe and keep them on hand in my fridge.
8 shiitake (or other) mushroom caps, without stems
1-1/4 c. (300 ml) dashi (can be made with boiling water and 1 t. (5g) instant hon-dashi granules**)
2 T. (30ml) soy sauce
2 T. (30ml) mirin (Japanese sweet rice wine for cooking)
2 T. (25g) sugar
Combine everything but the mushrooms in a frying pan and bring to a boil.
Cover and reduce heat to a simmer. Cook for ten minutes. Flip mushrooms over so the other sides can absorb the goodness.
Cover and simmer ten more minutes. Let cool in sauce.
Store mushrooms in the fridge in a glass jar filled to the brim with sauce. They last a couple of weeks like this.
Also: The sauce from these mushrooms makes absolutely fabulous savory rice if you mix it with the rice water before cooking.
**You can buy instant Hon-Dashi at Asian markets or online
*Leftovers that are super good atop a rice bowl:
Chicken & Ginger Yakitori Meatballs
Sliced smoked salmon (from a deli)
Grilled steak, sliced thin
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Jonelle Patrick writes novels set in Japan, produces the monthly Japanagram newsletter, and blogs at Only In Japan and The Tokyo Guide I Wish I’d Had