If you’ve not read What Did You Eat Yesterday, I can’t recommend it highly enough. It’s a combination of a slice of life manga about a gay couple (a lawyer and a hairstylist) in Tokyo and their day to day life, and a cooking manga, with detailed instructions on how to make the dishes that the main characters try. And it’s just a quiet, domestic manga, and sweet as fuck besides.

My boything’s been wanting to learn how to cook better, and I’ve been wanting to try some recipes from this manga, so this recipe from Volume 12 seemed like the perfect intersection of our needs. This is a simple, cheap, low effort, and easy meal to make; just slice up some sweet potato, throw it in with some rice, sake, and salt in the rice cooker, and just let it cook, and boom, you’ve got a good, hearty dish, and the rice cooker can keep it warm for as long as you want. It is a bit bland, so I would recommend adding some soy sauce (or ponzu went real well with the bowl I just had for lunch). Also, we used Murasaki sweet potatoes from Trader Joe’s for this for a change of pace, would definitely recommend them.

Sweet Potato Rice
Makes enough to feed 2 people for 2 meals

Ingredients

  • Rice and water per your rice brand’s instructions (here, 1.5 c rice, 2 c water)
  • 1 sweet potato
  • pinch sea salt
  • dash sake

Rinse your rice (I did it for the first time with this, I’m going to try to get some better instructions on this later), and then add your rice and water in recommended portions per the instructions on your bag of rice to your rice cooker. (If you’re like me, you have one of those big ass 10 lb bags, because you go through a lot of rice in the space of a year, and you have several Asian markets near you, which means it’s significantly cheaper.)

Meanwhile, take your sweet potato, rinse it thoroughly, and then half it width and length wise, and cut into .5 in fan shapes (see pic 4). As you get closer to finishing the sweet potato, add the sea salt and sake to the rice cooker. Once the sweet potato is fully cut up, add the pieces to the rice cooker, and then cook on the normal settings for white rice (usually about an hour).

Then, stir and fluff with a rice paddle, scoop into bowls, and enjoy!

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This is one of the best, weirdest, and cheapest dishes I made this year. As it turns out, when you live near Asian markets, you can get thick slices of pork belly (sliced a la bacon), heads of napa cabbage, and most of the other stuff you need for this recipe for incredibly cheap. The resulting hotpot (aka nabe) is hearty, filling, and keeps forfuckingever. (Yay depression proof food!) I’ve made this twice, and still have leftovers in my fridge from the last time. A+, can and will recommend.

It’s technically supposed to be real pretty cooking, but I’ll be real honest with you, I gave up on that pretty damn quickly. The assembly can be complicated, but it is doable. There are detailed pictoral directions at the linked recipe, too. If you can do it better than I can, bless and go forth.

Mille-Feuille Nabe
Makes: hella. You’re gonna have nabe for a while and then some.

Ingredients

  • 1 head napa cabbage (no really, I promise, whatever size you get WILL be enough)
  • 1.5 lbs sliced pork belly (go to your local Asian market for this, you’ll get it sliced just to the right thickness and way cheaper; feel free to increase this if you really like meat)
  • 5 c dashi (honestly, I had instant packets of dashi for this, and I used it; linked version will give you the normal way to make it)
  • 1 in ginger
  • 2 T sake
  • 1 t soy sauce
  • .5 t sea salt
  • shimeji/enoki mushrooms (optional)
  • ponzu and shichimi togarashi to dip in (green onion if you want to too, but I skipped it)

To start, thiny slice your ginger, and set to the side.

Cut your cabbage into quarters, lengthwise (pic 1), and wash the leaves carefully and drain well, taking care not to cut the edge as you do so. Keep a hold of any leaves that may come off; you will use them later. Take your pork belly slices, and put them between each leaf of the napa cabbage (pic 2). Use kitchen shears to cut the pork belly to the appropriate length for the leaves.

Once that’s done, cut the stuffed cabbage into three to four pieces, depending on the size of the leaf, usually about two inches or so long. Start packing the pot from the outer edge with the pieces, working your way in. The layers will loosen as they cook, so pack it as tight as possible. Stuff the center with leaves that fell off while washing, and, if you so choose, shimeji/enoki mushrooms. Pics 3 and 4 are what this looks like when I do it. Click the original recipe for a way better looking example of this.

Combine the soup ingredients (dashi through sea salt and the ginger slices), and add to the pot, pouring over the packed cabbage and pork belly and mushrooms. Don’t cut down on the salt, as the cabbage will release liquid when it cooks and dilute down the soup.

Cook on high heat, and skim the foam and fat on the surface once it starts boiling, if you so choose (I chose not to). Then, reduce the heat to medium high, and cook until the cabbage is tender, and the pork belly is cooked through. Pics 5 through 7 are what this process looks like, with pic 7 being from my second try at this.

When you’re ready, scoop it from the pot and serve hot, with the ponzu and shichimi togarashi to dip into (pic 8). And seriously, enjoy the wonderfully simple flavors in this.

“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!

Miso and potatoes aren’t necessarily a combination I would think of off the top of my head, but honestly, the way this smelled coming together has made me a believer.  

A few notes. I used white miso as the recipe does not specify which kind of miso to use, but you could probably go red as well.  What I typically tend to do with my miso is purchase tubs of it (my brand of choice is Maruman, in the 26 oz tubs) and store it in my fridge until I need it.  I also got a variety of roasting potatoes from the farmer’s market, as we’re still in winter mode out here, and don’t have new potatoes available at a reasonable price just yet.  I also doubled the sauce portion of the recipe, as I got a bit closer to a pound and a half than the pound and a quarter the original recipe recommends, and I honestly like the miso glaze coverage more like this.

Spicy Miso-Glazed Potatoes
Lasts 4 lunches as a side

Ingredients

  • 1.25 lbs new potatoes (I got 1.5 lbs of a roasting mix at the farmer’s market)
  • 4 T miso (I used white, red would probably work as well, as well as a mix of both)
  • 2 T sake
  • 2 T water
  • 1 T brown sugar
  • .5 t Asian chili paste of choice (I used sambal oelek, original also recommends Doubanjiang)
  • 1 garlic clove grated (or if you’re feeling lazy like I was, a few dashes of garlic powder)
  • 2 T butter

Take a pot of water, add 2 T salt and your potatoes, and bring it to a boil before reducing it to a simmer, and then cook until fork tender (appx 15 minutes).  While your potatoes cook, whisk together your miso, sake, water, brown sugar, chili paste, and grated garlic, until you have a smooth sauce resembling picture four.  Once your potatoes are done, drain them and let them dry, until the skins become papery (mine sat an hour while OUaT was on, and they were papery by the time it was done).

Melt your butter in a skillet over medium high heat and fry your potatoes, until they’re lightly browned on each side.  Then add your miso sauce and coat the potatoes in the sauce, until they’re all covered (see pic 5), and continue to fry, until there is no longer liquid in the pan and the sauce on the potatoes starts to caramelize (see final pic for what they should look like at the end of the frying process).

These can be enjoyed hot or cold; either way, dig in and enjoy!