Delicious Instant Japanese Dishes that are NOT Ramen

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  • Cooking can be hard. After a long day at work, no one wants to break out the pots and pans and start labouring in the kitchen. Thankfully, the wonderful Japanese instant food market can come to your rescue! It is where the half famous half notorious ramen noodles came from! But, if you’ve had enough of ramen, here are some other instant Japanese foods, that are also considered healthier. Plus, these foods are cheap, quick to make, and make wonderful souvenirs.

    1. Ochazuke – (Green Tea Over Rice)

    Don’t let the name fool you – delicious, savory, a warm pick me up on a cold day, this dish is so much tastier than it sounds.

    Traditionally made by pouring hot green tea, hot dashi (Japanese soup stock), or simply boiling water over cooked white rice, it is topped with various toppings such as pickles, pickled plums, or dried fish. Many places will have an even bigger variety of toppings, such a whole pork cutlet for instance. A great way to use up leftover cooked rice, Japanese people eat it for breakfast, lunch, dinner, or sometimes as a snack.

    There is an easy way to recreate this dish, you can simply buy delicious seasoning to pour over leftover rice, add hot liquid, and voila! Instant deliciousness. There are many brands that can be found at local supermarkets or convenience stores, with top three flavours being pickled plum, wasabi, and dried salmon.

    Bring some back for your friends or save it to eat when you need a little reminder of Japan.

    For those home-cooks who want to start from scratch, here is an instruction video:

    2. Okayu – (Japanese Rice Porridge)

    Yet another way to enjoy delicious leftover rice, okayu is eaten for breakfast on a cold day, or when one is sick. Kind of like chicken soup in the west, it can nurse you back to health, especially if you have stomach problems as it is simple and easy to digest. A special okayu variety called Nanakusagayu (containing 7 spring herbs) is eaten on January 7th to hope for a good new year, but also as a way to calm your stomach after eating a lot of greasy festive food.

    This porridge can be endlessly customized and its flavours rearranged, so you can also think of it as a bowl of oatmeal or muesli.
    Although it is easy to make from scratch, you can buy the instant version and save yourself the mess. Open the pack, pour it into a bowl, and microwave for 3 minutes. Alternatively, you can put the package straight into a pot of water to boil the porridge for 4 minutes, pour into a bowl, and enjoy.

    For those home-cooks who want to start from scratch, here is an instruction video:

    Cheap. Yummy. Soul warming!

    3. Japanese Curry

    Japanese curry is a lovely soulfood that has won the hearts of many, including skeptics who say they only eat Indian curries. Japanese curry is its own food, inspired by curry but becoming something more. Introduced by the Japanese navy, Japanese curry is only of many Western Japanese fusion foods that are eaten very often in Japan. Some of the others are – Nikkujagga stew (meat and potato stew), Omuraisu (omelette over rice), Katsu (pork cutlet), Napolitan pasta (spaghetti with peppers and hot dog sausages) and so on. These foods can be found in every school or work cafeteria, every home kitchen, and many restaurants and quick eatieries around Japan.

    Japanese curry base is sold in a variety of forms, and the curry cubes usually require just frying some veggies and meat, adding hot water, and boiling until the sauce becomes thick enough. Sometimes, that is just too much work. For those times, you can buy instant curry packs to be heated and poured over rice.
    Similarly to the rice porridge, open the pack, pour it into a bowl, and microwave for 3 minutes. Alternatively, boil the pack in a pot of water on the stove right in the bag for 4 minutes, pour into a bowl, and enjoy!

    For those who want to make curry from curry cubes, here is an instruction video:

    Instant curry comes in a variety of flavours and prices, from slightly sweet curry that even a child can eat, to 30 times-the-spice-burn-your-mouth off curry.
    It also comes in regional varieties, many kinds of toppings (cutlet, omelette, hamburger patty etc), as well as creative colourful curries like this blue one!

    Experiment! Just make sure to pack enough for home!