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Riko’s Emergency Cooking

December 17, 2018

While Japan is celebrated for its rich culture and gorgeous cuisine, this fascinating land has known more than its share of natural disasters. Whether lashed by ferocious storms, or shaken to its core by powerful seismic forces, Japan has learned since ancient times the power of preparedness. While people go about their days in relative calm and contentment, the possibility of catastrophe is never far from their thoughts.

It should come as no surprise, then, that Japanese households are often well-prepared against the threat of the unknown. And, as you’ve probably guessed, food is no small part of these preparations. Emergency meals being so essential, Japan may well be better than most at making sure that food’s simple pleasure doesn’t easily fall victim to disaster. With a great variety of canned, dried, and preserved foodstuffs to choose from, some of it surprisingly delicious, Japan is well-stocked in the face of anything nature has to throw at it.

When disaster strikes, we feel that eating good food lifts people’s spirits while nourishing their bodies. This program was born in hopes that it would enlighten and energize people who live with these concerns. Here we’ll introduce you to three remarkably delicious dishes – and as you’ll see, they’re so simple that children can prepare them. You don’t even need to be dressed as an animal...

1. Dress Up Your Alpha Rice!

Alpha rice is a special kind of preserved rice, commonly found in emergency supply stashes all around Japan. The rice is steamed to the perfect “alpha modification” point, where its starch is at its most edible, then quickly dehydrated and packed in pouches. It can then be stored for five years. To make it, simply open the pouch, pour in some boiling water, and your rice will be ready in 15 minutes. But the truly amazing thing about alpha rice is that you can prepare it without a heat source! In a pinch, use cold water instead, though you’ll need to wait an hour for your rice. Luckily, our little hosts had access to boiling water, and here they show us how easy it is to cook a batch of alpha rice, dressed up with nuts and raisins for a gourmet twist.

Dress Up Your Alpha Rice! (Japanese)

2. Mackerel and Tomato “Can-can” Curry

Whether it’s a gas burner, a campfire, or your usual stove, if you’re fortunate enough to have the means to cook, then this simple, hot and savory curry will keep you warm. It would also pair nicely with your alpha rice. But, really, this recipe is so easy and tasty, that you needn’t wait for an emergency – try it while camping, or even if you just have some canned fish or tomatoes that need to be used. As you’ll see in the video, it doesn’t take long at all for the kids to cook it up, and they make it “disappear” even more quickly!

Mackerel and Tomato “Can-can” Curry (Japanese)

3. Squishy Amazake Miso Veggies

All too often, in the event of a disaster, your intake of vegetables can be seriously hampered. And, even though we may have access to some reasonably fresh produce, it may be prohibitively difficult to prepare something appetizing. Here, our young guides discover how to transform their “tasteless” and “bitter” cabbage and white radish into a rather special side dish. Using only miso, amazake, and a large sealable plastic bag, we’ll also learn how to turn something dull into something delicious!

Squishy Amazake Miso Veggies (Japanese)

If you already have some “just-in-case” food stocks nearing their expiration dates, why not get into practice with some emergency cooking today? You never know when it may come in handy!

Text by: Marcus Hutchings
Recipes by: Riko Yamawaki