Magic in a can: 6 popular Japanese canned food and fun recipes to try.
“If it’s a can, the original flavor of the food can be preserved. Wouldn’t it be nice? That we leave our appetite to such magical power of canning ?”
The can works like a little pot. Put all the ingredients in, seal it.
Heat up the whole thing,
The food stuffed inside the can wait till the day they are opened,
they wait for a moment.
Year, by year.
Canned food is also a dish served with nicely seasoned ingredients.
On that basis, as a different flavor is added,
A fresh breeze of tastiness is created.”
-Amamiya, Bartender in drama tokku “三ツ星洋酒堂西荻窪”・“Mitsuboshi Yoshuudo Nishiogikubo”
Enchanted by the charming side of canned food pictured in the newly broadcasted drama, “三ツ星洋酒堂西荻窪”・“Mitsuboshi Yoshuudo Nishiogikubo”, I could not help myself sharing another wonderful side of Japanese cuisine, canned food.
Talking of canned food, the very first signals popping up in our head will be
“emergency”, “ready-to-eat”, “instant”, “preserved for years”. Here in Japan, the country of limitless creativity and innovation, things can be…slightly different. Takoyaki (Octopus Balls) in a can, Dashimaki (Omelette Roll) in a can, Okonomiyaki (Japanese Savoury Pancake) in a can, and many many more strange things…in a can.
Put all the odd canned dishes aside, with the so-called image of canned food as something ready-made at a low price, shoppers still prefer fresh ingredients for their home meals. But, for people who live on a low budget and set no boundaries for cooking, Japanese canned food could open the door to a whole horizon of fun recipes to explore.
Would you believe it? Canned food and a bit of creativity, the tummy will be full and our appetite will be satisfied, one way or another.
6 most-widely-sold canned food and fun recipes to try!
K&K, Meidi-Ya, SOLIMO, HOTEI, there are various canned food brands are competing for a place on supermarket shelves. To find the right can and the favorite brand of one’s choice is no different from exploring the right ingredients for a dish. It will take a few trials and errors till the finest is found.
Be it raw for sushi or sashimi or fried, broiled, or canned, tuna is an important element of Japanese food culture. With its particular texture, one of the top popular canned dishes in Japan, canned tuna is given a relatable name, “シーチキン・Sea Chicken”. Similar to chicken breast, tuna is popular among bodybuilders and fitness models who are on a cut because it’s a great way to keep protein high, with total calories and fat low.
It can be seen in a sandwich, a bowl of salad, spaghetti, and, the famous celebrity – Mayonaise Tuna Onigiri (Rice Balls). After a long day, going back home, open a can of tuna, and make yourself a simple but yummy tuna sandwich, it would be such a relief, isn’t it?
To live up to the “もったいない”・“Nothing is thrown away” spirit, sometimes, even the oil in the can be used to level up the tastiness of one dish, such as tomato tuna spaghetti or tuna fresh onion salad. Hagoromo, いなば・Inaba or Solimo are the most easily found brand for canned tuna.
Recipe 1: Broccoli , Tuna & Tofu Salad
Corned Beef (コンビーフ缶詰)
Corned beef is essentially beef cured in a salt brine, with some pickling spices for added flavor. It gets its name “corn” from an old English word for grain, or small pieces of hard things the size of the grain, such as salt.
Opening the can, one might be confused with the paste-ish smoothness, considering its appearance. As we scoop the corned beef out of the can and taste it, should we really feel the typical beefy stringiness. Depending on the brands’ recipe, the level of saltiness and smokiness might be different. Though being seen as an ordinary product, this canned dish might not be a cup of tea for many casual everyday eaters.
Instead of eating it straight out of the can, to make it more enjoyable, many house chefs make a twist, divide the canned corned beef into small portions and combine it with other ingredients to create a brand new dish.
Recipe 2: Tuna and corn curry cheese galette
Recipe 3: Corned Beef Dipping Sauce
Corn Cream Soup (コーンクリームスープ缶詰)
Soup in a can? Convenient, but how can it be? Many may wonder the same thing when they first see the canned corn cream soup in a vending machine in Japan. Corn cream soup or corn pottage is a to-go dish on a chilly autumn day or a freezing winter day for Japanese soup lovers. Sweet, milky rich, and heartwarming, three of many elements that represent the Japanese appetite.
While corn cream is usually consumed for soup, many break the norm by using it as a base sauce for baked dishes, such as rice gratin, lasagna, risotto, croquette, or even spaghetti. The creamy texture and corn’s sweetness, combined with other ingredients, can bring out an absolute deliciousness of the desired dish.
Recipe 4: Oven-baked Corn Cream Coroquette
Stewed Mackerel (さば煮缶詰)
Saba is a type of mackerel that is known for its rich, oily taste and health benefits. The fish is very commonly consumed throughout Japan, and is popular because of its nutritional value and affordable price.
Miso Stew, Soy Sauce or Teriyaki, さば・Mackerel is one of the most loved canned fish in Japan. 4 ~ 5 pieces of well-cooked mackerel in a can. The bones are so soft that you can eat everything. Heating the can a little bit in a water-boiling pot for 5 minutes, pour the sauce onto a warm bowl of steamed rice, a small bite of that melty mackerel with a bit of rice, it’s a heavenly meal served in minutes.
Canned saba actually has a higher nutritional value than fresh mackerel! To make a perfect pot of stewed mackerel in-house, it may take hours of preparation and cooking. Why bother cooking while a magical can can serve what you crave within minutes? If the savory sauce is not your favorite, the oil poaching, and shuizu stew (Boiled in Water or Salt Water) will be the best flavor to go with.
A luxurious way to enjoy canned mackerel is to cover the can in cheese and cream sauce, then bake the whole thing in the oven for 5 ~ 10 minutes. A fine side dish to go with white wine or beer on a weekend day.
Recipe 5: Kakikomi Gohan with Miso Stewed Mackerel
Recipe 6: Canned Mackerel, Tomato and Cheese Salad
Canned Stewed Sardine (イワシ煮缶詰)
When it comes to seafood, even for a country where seafood consumption is of the highest in the world, sardines are certainly not everyone’s cup of tea. It would be hard-pressed to find someone who actually lists them as their favorite snack. When they’re canned, it’s even more difficult to get people to even consider eating them.
Yet, the Japanese have their own way to level up the canned sardines. One thing about sardines is their unpleasant smell. To get away with the smell, mixing sardines with acidic or strong-flavored ingredients is one method. Tomato for a plate of spaghetti. Ginger for a whole pot of 炊き込みご飯・Takikomi Gohan, Japanese rice dish seasoned with dashi and soy sauce along with mushrooms, vegetables, meat, or fish.
Canned sardines have a high portion of salt in them. A small spoonful of seasoned sardine could be great for a stir-fried veggie dish as well.
Recipe 7: Broiled Sardines & Potato with Crispy Breadcrumbs
Living in Japan, one of the regretful things that any foreign residents can’t get away with is the variety of fruits and vegetables their home country has, especially residents from tropical countries. Canned fruits might not be the best choice to cure the craving, as many of them are soaked in sugar water. However, it would be not so bad to enjoy this sweet treat once in a while. Like this Taiwanese Peach Tea recipe below:
Recipe 8: Taiwanese Peach Tea
What do you think? Ready for an adventure into the Canned Food World?
Miracles do happen in the most ordinary moments, doesn’t it?
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