Japanese Jazz Cooking 101

Jazz Cooking is a term that a friend of mine named Julee coined back when I was in university. She was a big Jazz musician and wailed at flute and sax. I haven’t seen her in a few years, but last I heard she was teaching flute as a professor of some university. Anyway, she called it Jazz Cooking because it involved taking a bunch of cheap ingredients and improvising by throwing it into a pot while it’s boiling.

The Japanese have a term for this too, it’s called 鍋 (なべ、Nabe), which is literally: pot (for cooking, stop snickering). Nabe is actually a bit more formal, and involves a special base and certain ingredients (some of which are expensive) that must be put into it. Since I’m poor (just like I was in university… in fact, I’m living in a room about the same size as my first dorm room, not only that… whoops, lost track) and I can’t afford all the ingredients, and I still like Jazz, so we’ll call this Japanese Jazz Cooking. 🙂

So my first attempt was using the following ingredients:

Cheap-ass 萌やし (もやし、Moyashi), or bean sprouts. These are like 20 cents a bag.

Noodles. Noodles are cheap. You know that. These are actually 拉麺 (らめん) ramen noodles from…

Cheap 焼き蕎麦(やきそば、yakisoba). Yes, yaki soba is made from ramen noodles, not soba noodles. Don’t ask, no one knows why. In any case, this pack is like $1.30 and includes three packs of noodles.

Some sort of soup base. This is キムチ鍋 (きむちなべ、Kimchi nabe) soup base. But it’s actually quite expensive at around $2 to $3 for one bottle, which lasts for one meal. Therefore, I substituted with really cheap miso soup, which comes in a pack of like 20 for $1. Crap, I forgot to take a picture. Oh, well, you can imagine 🙂

Fresh (or close to fresh) veggies. Not just any veggies, 白菜と玉葱(はくさい Hakusai and たまねぎ tamanegi) chinese cabbage and onions. These are cheap (a buck or less) and last quite a while.

Also in the picture, you’ll see eggs. Meat would be preferable, but eggs are cheaper and almost count as meat.

Cooking instructions: put the base in a pot, boil water, and then randomly put stuff in. Best combination is probably veggies first, meat last. Cook until looks edible.

The result of my ジャズ味噌鍋 (Jazz Miso Nabe):

まーまっ。不味くない。Not bad :/ Not great, but perfectly edible. The miso base was too weak, but the noodles, eggs, and bean sprouts tasted quite good. Not a complete failure then. What else shall I add for next time?

Total cost: less than $4, and I still have lots of ingredients for the next attempt 🙂