The other night, we had two friends over for a casual dinner : Marion, a friend of mine from university, and Marwane, whom Maxence has known since junior high. Being on a Japanese food kick induced by Maxence’s recent successful forays, I decided to make some kind of udon dish topped with stuff. That seemed reasonably doable (I mean, how ambitious does that sound?) with the various ingredients we happened to have on hand.
In particular, I used one of these little packets of rice seasoning mix that they sell in Japanese grocery stores. They come in different flavors, but they all basically contain some kind of meat and vegetable extract, teeny shrimps for some, salt, sugar, sesame oil, onions and various spices. In fact the only actual difference the naked eye can see is in the color of the package and the Pokemon character depicted on it. The idea is to add them to cooked rice, and beat an egg in for a quick yummy meal. We bought tens of these back in California and they had gotten somewhat lost in oblivion in the back of our bulging kitchen cabinets. I recently unearthed them and have found them to be very convenient, instantly giving an interesting Japanese flavor to anything you add them to.
At first, I had reservations about just throwing together what was in the fridge and labelling it Japanese, especially the parsnip and the parsley which sounded to me all but traditional Japanese fare. But after a little research, it appears that our friends from the Empire of the Rising Sun do use parsnips (for tempura in particular) and parsley (lthough theirs seems to be flat-leaf when mine was curly). So all is right in the world, and the result was a very flavorful and satisfying dish, with a lot of different tastes and textures, that we all liked very much.