“You begin to suspect your bowl is a portal to the meat dimension… In order to finish this bowl, you must have Understanding of your limits, Knowledge to control your pace, Courage to face this unrelenting tide of beef, and Diligence to persevere against this colossal challenge." 

So, one of the things you can do to raise your stats in Persona 4 is to take the Aiya Bottomless Beef Bowl Challenge. On rainy days, you go to the Chinese restaurant, and for 3000 yen (~$30), you get a huge ass beef bowl that you have to try to finish. You can’t actually finish the beef bowl until you have all five stats maxed out (and then it’s free), so typically when you do it, you get three of four random stats increased, which is super useful in game. 

This is basically a combination of two existing recipes (Pixelated Provisions, and the now defunct Gourmet Gaming), but I like the end result I got better than the other two recipes. (I’ll likely include the onions on another run through, but I mostly just wanted the meat, egg, and rice for this.)

I’m thinking of trying something similar with reverse engineering recipes from the Odin Sphere remake, so any tag suggestions for this kind of thing would be great!

Aiya Bottomless Beef Bowl

Ingredients

  • Steak, sliced thin (note: I got chuck steak for this, about a pound and a half, and that lasted for two servings; get something reasonably priced that you can get in large quantities)
  • 3 T mirin
  • 3 T sake
  • 3 T sugar
  • 9 T aged dark soy sauce
  • 1 T sesame oil
  • 3 cloves garlic, grated
  • 3 T grated ginger
  • rice 
  • egg

Whisk together your mirin, sake, sugar, and soy sauce. Take your steak, slice it thin to your taste (you can see the approximate size I got from my photos), and marinate in the mirin/sake/sugar/soy sauce mix in the fridge. I let mine sit covered in the fridge for the better part of a day; you should marinate it for a minimum of fifteen minutes. 

About an hour out from when you’re looking to eat, toss together your rice according to its instructions in your rice cooker, and let it do its thing. 

Fifteen minutes out from when you’re looking to eat, take a large pan, heat it to medium high, and add the sesame oil. Take your grated ginger and garlic, and fry for about two minutes tops, until fragrant. Then, take your steak and marinade, and cook for about ten minutes, until your steak is browned on all sides (see difference between pics 4 and 5). 

As your steak gets close to being done, heat a small pan and a dash of olive oil over high, and fry your egg until you get your desired doneness (I like having a sunny side up with a runny yolk). 

Scoop out your rice, add a bunch of the steak, and then drop the egg on top, and open your portal to the meat dimension!

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This, however? This was a HUGE mistake. Pro tip kids: Do not eat salmon you got on sale raw on the second day after you unwrap it. It ends with you throwing up in a Loop restaurant on the way home. Writing the recipe down because maybe I’ll overcome my aversion to it down the road. 

Marinated Salmon Sashimi Salad

Ingredients

  • 1 lb salmon (seriously, make sure it’s sashimi grade or it will end poorly), sliced into thin strips
  • 1 T miso
  • 1 T mirin
  • 1 T soy sauce
  • 1 t sesame oil
  • pinch shichimi
  • dash lemon juice

Whisk together all of your ingredients except for the lemon juice, pour it over your sliced salmon and toss, and top with a bit of lemon juice. 

Zaru soba was one of the meals I ate pretty consistently back when I went abroad to study in Japan almost four years ago now.  Why? It was typically very cheap (400 yen for a serving at a noodle shop, which is about $4), it was filling, and it allowed me to stay cool (as it was incredibly hot out, I was there during August – December).  Plus, you were encouraged to slurp at your noodles, which was very fun, especially with the dipping sauce.

The recipe I’m using for this comes from the cookbook Japanese Soul Cookng, and overall, it’s incredibly thorough. You can make your own soba noodles if you choose, but honestly, it’s saner if you go with premade, unless you have at minimum a whole day to devote to the process of making the noodles.  Cooking the soba itself is very easy; the dipping sauce is honestly the only part where it gets real interesting, and even then, it’s not that difficult. Perfect meal for a hot summer day.

Zaru Soba
Lasts appx 6 lunches as a main course

Ingredients

  • one package soba (usually contains 3 servings)
  • one serving dashi  (use the recipe and instructions in the attached link)
  • .5 c soy sauce
  • .125 (or 1/8) c mirin
  • 2 t sugar
  • 2 T mirin
  • nori, sliced thin (I didn’t have this on hand, but will be adding it)

To cook your soba, bring a large pot of water to a boil, and add your package of soba (be sure to remove the little plastic bundling the noodles together). Swirl the noodles with chopsticks as seen in picture one to separate the noodles, and keep them so as they cook.  Cook for approximately 4 minutes (or check your package’s instructions, but odds are they’ll be similar). You’ll know when your noodles are done when you taste them and they’re cooked through (do so after running them after cold water). Once ready, strain them in a colander, and then put the colander in a large bowl, and run cold water over them, filling the bowl (and the colander), and stir your noodles, as seen in picture 2. This helps them cool down and not get overcooked or mushy. Cool for 10 minutes, stirring occasionally.  Then, drain and put into a container, to use whenever you may want.

To make kaeshi, the soba dipping sauce flavoring base, combine the .5 c soy sauce, 1/8th cup mirin, and 2 t sugar in a pot, and bring them to a boil over high heat. Once boiling, add your dashi and mirin to your kaeshi, and bring back to a boil to make the dipping sauce.  Once boiling, remove from heat and allow to come down to room temperature. Then, put in a smaller container and in the fridge for at minimum one hour, to allow the flavors to combine. The longer you let the dipping sauce sit in the fridge, the more the flavors will come out.

To eat, add the nori to the noodles, and then use your chopsticks to dip into the dipping sauce, as demonstrated by me and my Darth Maul chopsticks in the final picture!  Why yes, I am a massive dork. Be sure to have a paper towel on hand, though, it can get messy.

So, the two most recent things that I cooked didn’t end up going quite right, but at least with this one, the recipe is pretty salvageable.  Also, I didn’t get as many process pics as I would’ve liked, but ah well.  The amount of heavy whipping cream that is used in this makes this a bit closer to liquid than a solid, so what I’ll probably end up doing next time is doubling the amount of potatoes.

This recipe comes from Everyday Harumi, and again, it could use a little bit of tweaking before it’s perfect, but it’s still pretty damn good.  I also used the homemade dashi recipe I used earlier for the chazuke, which added to it.

Mashed Potatoes with a Japanese-Style Mushroom Sauce
Lasts 4 lunches as a side

Ingredients

  • 1 2/3 c water
  • 1 inch piece dried konbu seaweed
  • 1 handful bonito flakes
  • 2 T soy sauce
  • 1 T mirin
  • pinch sugar
  • 1 container shiitake mushrooms, washed and quartered
  • 1 package enoki mushrooms, washed, roots cut off, and chopped into half-inch pieces
  • 1 pound potatoes, peeled and quartered
  • 2/3 c heavy whipping cream
  • (original recipe recommends 1 T corn starch to 1 T water as a thickener, I think you could go without it)

To make your broth, take your piece of dried konbu and soak a bit in the water in a pot, until it expands a bit (appx 5 mins).  Then, turn the heat on to medium high, and watch the pot until you start to see small bubbles around the konbu (see pic 2 on the chazuke recipe linked earlier). Remove your konbu from the pot, and then add your handful of bonito flakes and simmer for 8 mins.

While you make your stock, take your potatoes, soak them briefly in water in a pot, drain, and then bring the pot to a boil.  Boil your potatoes until they’re good and soft and fork tender.

After 8 mins of simmering your dashi stock, bring to a boil, and add the soy sauce, mirin, and sugar.  Once the sugar has dissolved, add your enoki and shiitake mushrooms, and boil until the mushrooms soften, then reduce the heat.  The original recipe recommends adding the thickener at this point, and I did, but honestly, all it did was clump the sauce.  Will probably skip it.

Once your potatoes are boiled, mash them (I used a mixer to do so), and then add the cream.  Be aware that the ratios given (1 lb potatoes to 2/3 c heavy whipping cream) will give you really silky potatoes; if you like more potato to your potatoes, I’d double the potatoes in here to 2 lbs.

Pour your mushroom sauce over your potatoes, and serve!