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Convenient Cooking: Part 1

Ingredients

  • Chashu roast pork
  • Kimchi Kyuri no asatsuke (lightly pickled cucumbers)
  • Goma abura (sesame oil)    

I doubt many people methodically prepare food the day before they go camping or trekking. Most of us come home from work, run around the house trying to get things together in a hurry, then leaving early the next morning (or even in the middle of the night).   

In fact, the day before you have something planned, you inevitably have to stay late at work. You’re lucky if you have time to get to the supermarket before it closes, so you can prepare food ahead of time. It’s times like these the convenience store really lives up to its name.   

It used to be convenience stores only sold things such as bread, cup noodles and pastries. Today, not only do they stock a wide range of items, but also they can be found in even the most rural town—making them even handier. Make sure you have a good look around, because many of these convenience stores stock local items that can only be purchased in that area, so you can sample some regional flavors as well.  It is fine to eat convenience store food as it is, but a little boring. You’re going camping after all, so a little bit of effort will reward you with something special. This issue I’ll introduce a recipe combining chashu roast pork, kimchi and/or tsukemono (pickles) for a snack that goes great with beer or wine.   

Most of the meat sold at convenience stores, such as ham or sausages, is processed; chashu is also processed pork, like ham, but since it is made by simmering the meat in sugar and soy sauce, it will keep much better than other processed meat.   

As most people know, kimchi is spicy Korean pickled vegetables, delicious on its own, but it is also a useful ingredient for a variety of dishes. Japanese think of tsukemono as a traditional snack or side dish, but since cucumber tsukemono really is a pickle, you can dice it and use it to top vegetables or salads, stir-fry or other dishes.  Finally, goma abura is a wonderful aromatic oil; just a touch added at the end of cooking really adds a bit of magic to the dish. I like to add a drop of goma abura when I’m making miso soup.  

(1) Slice the chashu in long strips. If there is a package of tare (sauce) attached, set it aside for the moment.   

(2) Mince the kimchi and cucumber. Add the tare to the chashu, then add the kimchi and cucumber, mix it all up, and you are ready to eat.       

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