The word “comfort food” has a special place in everyone’s stomach. Most people will undoubtedly think of the nostalgic dishes that conjure images of warmth and a happy belly. Roast chicken, mac ’n’ cheese, spaghetti and meatballs, lasagna, and beef stew are all popular choices. But those American dishes aren’t the only comfort foods. Read on to find out five Japanese comfort foods that are both delicious and healthy.
People in Japan often eat a hot bowl of okayu, rice porridge, when you are sick. It’s a rather simple dish of rice, salt, and water. It comes with a very mild taste that is especially comforting when one doesn’t have much of an appetite.
Sometimes, people even eat okayu for breakfast to warm ourselves up, and many add various toppings to it. Umeboshi is the most popular topping, adding a sour, salty and sweet taste that goes very well with the mild flavor of the rice.
A Japanese stew on a cold winter’s night is just the thing for families to enjoy, and this particular dish evokes plenty of nostalgic feelings of comfort and home. Nabe is easy to make, consisting basically of whatever vegetables, meat and fish you’d like. The ingredients are simply boiled and simmered together in a Japanese hot pot, often right on the table on a nabe cooker.
Do your family have your own traditional chicken soup or beef stew recipes? Just like that, most Japanese families have their own particular recipe for nabe. Once the food is simmering and the scent of the familiar ingredients pervades the air, you’ll quickly realize why nabe is such a perfect dish on chilly nights, or for a Sunday meal with family and friends.
Takoyaki (Octopus Balls)
This common Japanese street snack food is a popular recipe at home as well. The tasty treat is easy to make, and is also a favorite selection at Japanese festivals and street fairs. Made with a special takoyaki pan, takoyaki appears as little round balls of fried dough, and essentially it is — with a bit of octopus inside.
However, while traditional takoyaki is takoyaki batter with octopus inside, you can use whatever ingredients you’d like. Shrimp, vegetables, sausage and cheese are common ingredients, and you can also top the takoyaki for additional flavor with mayonnaise, Japanese sauce, or katsuobushi — dried bonito flakes.
It’s hard to have a list of Japanese comfort foods and not include miso soup. While the soup is consumed pretty much daily in Japan, and often for breakfast, it is also an extremely comforting dish when one isn’t feeling well. Additionally, because of the many healthy properties of miso soup, you could consider it the Japanese version of your grandmother’s chicken soup.
However, the ingredients in miso soup can do a lot more than just alleviate the symptoms of the common cold, so you might wish to add this dish to your regular diet more often.
Another easy-to-make yet oh-so-satisfying Japanese comfort food is ochazuke. Ochazuke is basically a bowl of rice with hot green tea or hot water. The simple dish can include toppings of various seasonings or pickled vegetables to add some taste. In fact, there is even a wide assortment of ochazuke seasoning packets you can try. The dish is easy to digest and takes very little effort to prepare. This is another perfect recipe when you aren’t feeling well.