School Lunch in Okinawa October 22-31

Monday October 22

Milk, autumn rice, baked mackerel, cabbage and sesame salad, root vegetable soup

Monday’s meal highlights one of the major strengths of Japanese cuisine: seasonal ingredients.  The rice was infused with flavors and vegetables that are ripe in autumn.  Along side the rice was a salad of cabbage, cucumber and other vegetables in sesame dressing, a clear broth soup with root vegetables, and a slice of baked mackerel.

Tuesday October 23

Milk, Chinese rice bowl, wakame (seaweed) soup, orange

This meal shows a common lunch or “fast food” in Japan.  Rice bowls allow for a “one plate” eating experience which is the opposite of traditional eating.  Even here, a Chinese take on a don (rice bowl) is supplemented by soup.  On the rice was a stir fry of  vegetables and meat in a thick sauce.  There were also quail eggs and mini shrimp.

Wednesday October 24

Milk, bread, baked fish, bean salad, mushroom soup

Wednesday is often bread day.  It’s interesting how less full you feel when eating bread as opposed to rice.  Likely its due to the fact it can take longer to eat rice than bread.  As usual, I ended up making a tasty fish sandwich.  The bean salad turned out to be mostly vegetables while the mushroom soup was a great light pairing with the heaviness of the rest of the meal.

Thursday October 25

Milk, barley rice, teriyaki chicken, mustard greens (chikina-) chanpuru, vegetable soup

This meal was pretty standard, though the chicken is more of an American take on Japanese food.  The chanpuru was like many I’ve had but with mustard greens which provide unique flavors.  The soup had a great broth from vegetable stock and included burdock root, daikon, and other veggies.

Friday October 26

Milk, barley rice, small fried fish, sliced burdock root, clear soup

The week ended with my favorite and least favorite items mixed together.  I love kinpira (sliced) burdock and carrots, while I am not a fan of whole fish.  The fish actually taste great, it just becomes a usual talking point as I rip off the heads to discard.  Four years of “I don’t eat heads,” gets old, but in the end there’s really no excuse not to eat them whole except my squeamishness.  I’m sure they taste just fine.  The soup was extra light since it was strained to ensure a clear broth.

Monday October 29

Milk, pork curry, pickled vegetables, fruit in sauce

I’ve recently attempted making curry from scratch.  Not with rue packets, but straight from seasonings.  My first attempt was awesome, the second not so good.  Both were far from the Japanese take on curry.  Curry is a favorite in Japanese schools, but it is different.  I’ve already shown how to make it from boxed curry cubes, but honestly I don’t know what’s in the cubes to make them taste so different from Indian curry.  Whatever it is, both are good and definitely distinct.  Once I master the from scratch version, I’ll post it!

Tuesday October 30

Milk, barley rice, vegetable irichi, stuffed inari, a-sa soup

Tuesday’s meal was a weird one.  I cannot get over the stuffed inari.  Inari is a bean curd pocket usually stuffed with rice at sushi restaurants.  It’s slightly sweet and delicious.  Unfortunately, the stuffed inari we get is a mixture of savory and sweet I find edible, but not enjoyable.  The side dish is a mix of vegetables including konnaku sliced and prepared in the irichi style.  Along side was a sea plant soup.

Wednesday October 31

Milk, basil spaghetti, tomato omelette, vegetable salad, Halloween cup cake

Happy Halloween!  For the end of October we had a very non-Japanese meal, excepting the sheer variety of the dishes.  Omelette and spaghetti? Sure!  All the dishes were good on their own, and somehow came together.  The portion of the salad was a bit big and since it was served cold not the best contrast to the spaghetti.  The unfortunate leaf vegetables also got a bit stringy.  On the upside we got tasty Halloween cupcakes.

Which was your favorite?  Let us know in the comments!