Japanese Cooking Blog with Asako Nonaka #9
Asako Nonaka ◆ August 17, 2015
What do you think when you eat? Do you look at your smartphone during a meal? Do you feel the taste? Do you think how the meal has come to you?
We usually eat a meal three times in a day, 1,095 times in a year. If your life is 80 years long, you have 87,600 meals. This number is so big! Some are conscious about the meal each time and others not. I think there are big differences between those two types of people.
Modern people can have a meal easily at a convenience store or a fast food restaurant. We can have fully cooked foods throughout the year. These fill your belly but do they fill your mind as well?
Eating is a great chance to know yourself and the surrounding environment. How do you know it? Today I want to introduce two Japanese words, “Itadakimasu” and “Gochisosama“.
Before eating a meal Japanese people say “Itadakimasu“, which literally means “I will have.” So what will we have? We will have “life”. We eat the precious lives of animals and plants and they don’t exist without nature. For example, a fish lives because of the sun, air, sea, ground and microorganisms. When there is a natural environment, we can get food and we can live. To have the consciousness that human beings are not the leaders of the earth we can appreciate that we live because of the many lives of creatures.
After eating the meal, they say “Gochisosama“. “Chiso” literally means running around. In the olden times, people ran around to get food for treating the guests. Even now there are farmers and fishermen who get the ingredients, the traders who sell them to the consumers, and the cookers before you eat the meal. The appreciation for all the effort for making the meal is the word “Gochisosama“.
You can learn gratitude for others and the environment from these two greetings during the meal. I want children to have this education at an early stage. Of course they are great learning even for adults as well.
Recently The Project for Food Consciousness had a workshop to explain the Japanese food culture for foreign people who live or visit Japan and I had the opportunity to work as a member of it. In the workshop, we shared the above two greetings, the relationship between Japanese people and the staple food; rice, and the basic meal style “Ichi-ju-san-sai (1 soup and 3 dishes)” with the attendees. It was a great leaning experience and I hope this will spread to all over the world.
This time I want to go back to basics so I will introduce how to cook rice. To cook rice, you don’t have to get a rice cooker. All you need is a pot with a lid.
1 cup of rice
1 and 1/4 cups of water (for cooking)
water (for washing)
1. Put the rice in a bowl and add the water.
2. Wash the rice by drawing a circle tightly using the tips of your hand 20 times. Pour the water out and add water and wash again. Drain the water.
3. Put the rice and 1 and 1/4 cups of water in a pot and soak it for 30 minutes. (If you are in a rush, you can skip this. But I recommend to have the soaking time to cook delicious rice.)
4. Turn on the heat high with the lid on for around 2 minutes. Once boiled, turn the heat very low and simmer for 10 minutes.
5. Turn the heat high for 5 seconds and turn off. Please don’t open the lid at this time.
6. Let it steam as it is for 10 minutes and it’s done.
Please feel free to try the chewy Japanese rice and feel the Japanese food culture.