Eat Japanese During the Tokyo Olympics

Tuna steak. ALLEKO / iStock / Getty Images Plus

I can’t wait for the Summer Olympics, which will be held in Tokyo, Japan, from July 23 to Aug. 8. If your family is like mine, we are glued to the TV at night, watching recaps of each day’s events.

Not letting dinner interfere, we eat at the coffee table with our eyes focused on gymnastics, skateboarding, swimming and sailing.

I often invite friends and serve food from the country hosting the Olympics. This time, Japanese food will be on the menu. This makes being virtual spectators feel less remote.

I love silken tofu, smothered in a soy-ginger sauce. With a smooth surface and a delicate texture, this tofu is literally strained through silk. Soba noodle salad is a harmonious balance of sweet and hot flavors. Lime and soy-glazed tuna is a real crowd pleaser. The ingredients for these recipes can be purchased in Asian food markets, health food stores and many supermarkets.

The Japanese are wild about white peaches, which look the same as ordinary peaches on the outside but their flesh is a pale creamy color instead of bright yellow. For dessert, I simply slice several white peaches and place them on an oblong plate.

The Japanese take care selecting serving pieces and arranging food as attractively as possible. They match platters and bowls to the season, often selecting blue and white porcelain for summer dining. Besides the thrill of watching athletes excel, I view the Olympics as a chance to learn something about foreign cultures and cuisine.

Soba Noodle Salad | Pareve
Serves 4-6

This can be served hot or cold.

1 clove garlic, minced
3 drops of vegetable oil
½ teaspoon salt
1 (8-9-ounce) package of soba wheat and buckwheat noodles
4 tablespoons toasted sesame oil
¼ teaspoon crushed red pepper, or a little more, if you like things hot
2 tablespoons honey
3 tablespoons soy sauce
3 scallions, sliced thin

Place the minced garlic in a pasta bowl. Reserve.

Fill a large pot ¾ of the way with water. Add the drops of vegetable oil and salt. Cover the pot and bring it to a boil. Add the soba noodles and boil them uncovered for 6-8 minutes.
While the soba noodles boil, place the sesame oil, crushed red pepper, honey and soy sauce in a small bowl. Whisk the ingredients until well combined.

When the noodles are al dente (cooked but slightly firm in the center), drain them thoroughly in a colander. Immediately move them to the pasta bowl. Leave them for 2 minutes so their heat softens the garlic. Pour the sesame oil mixture over the top. Toss with two spoons. Sprinkle the scallions over the top.

This recipe can be served immediately, cooled to room temperature and served, or refrigerated and served cold.

Silken Tofu with Ginger Sauce | Pareve
Serves 6

1 (16-ounce) package silken tofu
2½ tablespoons sesame oil
1 small onion, chopped fine
2 garlic cloves, minced
1½-inch piece of ginger root, peeled and chopped fine
1½ teaspoon honey
¼ cup low-sodium soy sauce

Pile up three paper towels on a plate. Remove the tofu from its package and place it on the paper towels. Let the tofu drain into the paper towels while assembling the remaining ingredients.

In a small pot, warm the sesame oil over a medium-low flame. Add the onion, garlic and ginger. Sauté until fragrant, about 2 minutes. Add the honey and soy sauce and stir.

Simmer for 2 minutes, or until slightly thickened.

Cut the tofu into 6 rectangles, equal in size. Move the tofu pieces to a serving dish with a deep rim. Slowly pour the ginger sauce over the tofu, letting most of the onion, garlic and ginger remain in the pot. Spoon them over the tofu.

Serve immediately, or cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate for up to 2 days. Bring to room temperature before serving.

Lime and Soy-Glazed Tuna Steaks | Pareve
Serves 4

1 tablespoon fresh lime juice, about ¾ of a lime
1 tablespoon soy sauce
2 teaspoons sugar
In a small bowl, whisk the three ingredients together. Reserve.

Tuna steaks:
1 tablespoon fresh lime juice, about ¾ of a lime
2 tablespoon saké or sauvignon blanc
1 pound sushi-grade tuna, cut into 4 pieces
2 tablespoon soy sauce
2 tablespoon honey
2 tablespoon sesame oil, or more, if needed

Select a glass or ceramic flat-bottom bowl just a little larger than the area the tuna steaks require. Do not use a metal bowl.

Pour the lime juice and saké or sauvignon blanc into the bowl and combine. Move the tuna into this marinade and turn on all sides. Keep at room temperature. Continue turning every couple of minutes for 5-10 minutes. The tuna may develop a white haze. Add the soy sauce and honey, coating the tuna. Continue marinating for 5 minutes.

Place the sesame oil in a nonstick skillet and warm it over a medium flame. Remove the tuna from the marinade, letting the excess drip into the bowl. Discard the marinade.

Carefully place the tuna into the skillet and sauté until seared, about 1-2 minutes. Turn over the fish and continue to sauté it on all sides.

Pour the glaze over the tuna. Let the tuna sizzle in the glaze, which will thicken. If the glaze is evaporating quickly, add water 1 tablespoon at a time. Continue to sauté until the tuna is seared on the outside but red to pink in the center. Or if you, prefer sauté until tuna is cooked through. Don’t overcook.

Move the tuna into a rimmed serving dish. Thicken the glaze a little more, if needed. It should not be watery. Pour the glaze over the top, and serve immediately.


Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here