With the growing popularity of such Japanese foods as sushi, teppanyaki and sukiyaki, serving Japanese cuisine at home is now a cool thing to do and sure to impress your dinner guests.
After World War II, Japanese food had a hard road ahead of it to enter the mainstream western diet. My grandparents still hold bitter memories of the war era and probably would not try Japanese food if they knew it’s origins. While the youth of the West and Eastern nations are now more united through the internet and do not hold any grudges, Japanese food can still be quite a culture shock for some. This Japanese-style lasagna recipe, while catering to the uniqueness of the Japanese palate, comes in a familiar form to Westerners and is a great way to introduce Japanese flavors to an uninitiated dinner guest.
To start with, let’s take a look at the ingredients, some of which may be hard to find in your local grocery store, but any asian supermarket should be able to help you out:
- 6 sheets of dry lasagna pasta
- 1 half of a lotus root
- 2 slices of raw salmon
- 2 cans of meat sauce
- 2 tablespoons of oil
- 30 grams of butter (salted)
- 6 tablespoons of flour
- 300 ml of soy sauce (light)
- 1 tablespoon of miso paste
- 1 red onion
- 3 slices of cheese
- 1 packet of seaweed paper
- 1 handful of crispy tempura batter pieces
- 1 packet of fermented soybeans
- salt and pepper to taste
Yes – fermented soybeans! These are known as “natto” in Japanese and are one of the richest sources of protein in the world. The only caveat is that they can smell terrible to the unfamiliar diner. In Japan, it is common to find these in supermarkets or even convenience stores, sold 3 packets for under US$1. In overseas asian markets, the price may be up to 3 times that, but is a vital ingredient in making this lasagna recipe truly Japanese tasting.
- Start preparations by peeling the lotus root if not already peeled, and soak it in some warm water.
- Cut the sliced salmon into bite-sized pieces. Season with salt and pepper and pan fry in oil.
- Remove the fried salmon from the pan and replace with the soaked lotus root.
- After simmering the lotus root for 5 mins, add the onion, sliced thinly, to the pan.
- In another frying pan, melt the butter and slowly combine the flour, soy sauce, some more salt and pepper and reduce heat.
- Combine the contents of the first frying pan to the second and dissolve in the miso paste.
- In a pot, add the lasagna to boiling water with a little oil and salt.
- In a suitable lasagna dish, add the contents of the frying pan, then a layer of the cooked lasagna sheet, then a layer of meat sauce and repeat with alternating layers until your dish is full, save an inch at the top.
- On the final layer of pasta, arrange the pieces of salmon as you would a delicate Japanese garden and cover with the cheese.
- Bake in an oven at 200 degrees Celsius for 20minutes or until the cheese has melted, but before it is burnt.
- Remove from the oven and serve on a square black plate for best effect.
- Sprinkle the crispy tempura batter pieces on top after bringing to the table.
This dish is sure to be a success with both those who love Japanese food and guests who have never experienced Japanese flavors.