Quick and Easy Weeknight Japanese Dinner Menu

Quick and Easy Weeknight Japanese Dinner Menu

When my stomach is feeling unsettled, I crave sushi. I know it seems antithetical – sushi makes a lot of people very squeamish – but its simple, pure, fresh flavors are light and synonymous with good health to me. Science appears to be on my side, as the Okinawa Centurian study shows that residents of this Japanese island have an average life expectancy of 78 years for men and 86 years for women.

Making sushi at home is not the easiest thing. Even if you do manage to have a reliable place to secure some sushi fish, you probably don’t have time to run over there right before your guests are due to arrive. And it is usually dishearteningly expensive just for the fish, not to mention the other requisite supplies like a sushi roller.

Thankfully, several of the items you usually see floating by on sushi boats can quickly and easily be made in your own home. I like to put together a  large spread for my friends when I am short on time or planning to deluge them with decadent desserts. On quiet weeknights at home, it is also nice to plate up some inari, one of the salads, and tofu or tamago just for myself and one another.

Japanese Spread for 10

Note: A lot of the speed of this meal comes from using prepared (or mostly prepared) items, but you can also make the sushi rice from scratch very easily.

For quick, no-fuss appetizers and dessert, pick up some asian snack mix and mochi ice cream balls from Trader Joes. Set out the snack mix in some small bowls before your guests arrive and serve the mochi with green tea after the meal.

  • min 1: Microwave the sushi rice, start the water boiling for the tofu and the inari wrappers (if they require cooking), and preheat the oven for the tofu.
  • mins 2-3: Set a pan on the stove and prepare the egg mixture for the tamago.
  • min 4: Start your first egg omelette and put another pack of sushi rice in the microwave.
  • mins 5-6: Peel the carrots and cucumbers.
  • min 7: Remove tofu water from heat and add dashi. Make another pack of sushi rice.
  • min 8: Start another egg omelette and continue cooking these in the background till you run out of mixture (will depend on pan size).
  • min 9-10: Mix the sushi rice and set out to cool.
  • mins 11-12: Make the miso sauce for the tofu.
  • mins 13-14: Make the cucumber ribbons.
  • min 15: Cut tofu and cook in the dashi stock.
  • mins 16-20: Grate the carrots.
  • mins 21-22: Make the dressing for the carrot salad, dress the salad and mix.
  • min 23: Make the dressing for the cucumber salad, dress the salad and mix.
  • mins 24-25: Arrange tofu on baking sheet, coat with sauce, and put in the oven.
  • mins 26-29: Assemble inari.
  • min 30: Remove tofu from the oven and add toothpicks or popsicle sticks to serve.