Although I hate the heat and humidity of summers in Japan, the one good thing about summer is the abundance of fresh and delicious vegetables. (Living in a rural area means these veggies are also cheap!)
So here are a few refreshing and simple summer recipes:
Easy Zucchini Side Dish
Zucchini *– 2 medium-sized
Olive oil – 1 TBSP
Sesame oil – 1/2 tsp
Toasted white sesame seeds – 3 tsp
Parmesan cheese (from shaker) – 2 TBSP
Garlic salt/powder – 1 tsp
Cayenne pepper (一味唐辛子 ichimi tougarashi)– 1/4tsp
*I used 1 green and 1 yellow zucchini
1. Wash and trim the zucchini, peeling about half and leaving the rest with the peel on. Slice the zucchini in half lengthwise into two pieces and then slice each in half (lengthwise) again. Cut each of the four pieces into 1/2-inch (12.5mm) slices. Make as uniform as possible.
2. Take a sealable plastic bag (Ziploc, etc.) and put the zucchini and everything else into it. Press the air out, close the bag and knead the zucchini and oil and seasonings until all the zucchini slices are covered evenly.
3. Pre-heat oven (toaster oven also works just fine!) to 200ºC (400ºF). Line a cooking sheet/baking tray with parchment paper. (Don’t grease it.) Spread the zucchini in a single layer on the parchment paper.
4. Bake the zucchini in the oven for ~20min. (After 15min check every 2min until it is to your liking.) Delicious warm or cold!
(Optional: Add 1 small tomato, diced, to the zucchini and toss before serving.)
くずし豆腐と野菜のサラダ (kuzushi tofu to yasai no sarada)
(Source: 手間なし、カンタン!得ごはん (Tema nashi, kantan! Toku gohan) No hassle, easy and cheap meals by Orange Page, p.56)
Momen (coarse-grained) tofu – 1 block (300g)
“Whole” (kernel) canned corn* – 100g
Tomato – 1 large
“Salad” (vegetable) oil – 2 TBSP
Vinegar & soy sauce – 1 TBSP each
Pepper – a dash, to taste
*You can also use fresh corn, boiled and removed from the cob.
1. Drain the canned corn. Remove the stem and cut the tomato into 6-8 wedges. Drain the tofu.
2. Mix the ingredients for the dressing in a bowl.
3. Put the tomatoes on a plate, crumble the tofu over it and put corn on top. Pour on dressing and serve.
Udon noodles - 3 packs (mine came as a pack of 3 packs of 200g each)
Bagged salad* - ~100g
Mentsuyu (bonito-based noodle sauce) - ~2 TBSP
*I find it cheaper and more convenient to buy pre-packaged, bagged salad (usually I get one with a couple of kinds of lettuce, radish, red & yellow bell peppers, carrots, onions) but of course you can make your own salad using whatever vegetables you like—even just shredded cabbage will work.
1. Boil water in a pot and cook udon noodles according to package directions (usually 2-3min). Drain and rinse thoroughly under cool running water (to remove the starch).
2. Put udon in a bowl and top with salad.
3. Dilute mentsuyu in an approximately 1:3 ratio of mentsuyu to water (so 2 TBSP mentsuyu, 6 TBSP water--or to taste). Pour mentsuyu over salad udon and serve. (Optional: Top with mayonnaise, sesame salad dressing, soft or hard-boiled egg, fake crab meat, etc.)