Usually, I give Simply Delicious a hard time for their attempts at “cultural cuisine”–I had gone into 8-13: Japanese Beef Casserole with the same expectations. I even cooked the recipe with that thought in mind–that this was just another lame attempt at something “exotic” for the 1980s housewife crowd to try to excite their disaffected family about. I mean, read that description below and try to imagine how that would go in real life.
However, while researching for the write-up (the last part of this multi-step process), I found some interesting “similar” recipes. I’m still not sure if I’m right or wrong about this one.
Here’s my thoughts on the two things this recipe could be (given my new findings):
They might be trying to attempt nikujaga (Japanese “beef stew”), but it’s missing potatoes which are a crucial (and easy to obtain) part of that dish.
They’re attempting some sort of pan-Asian sautéed beef/Asian veggies dish that you’d be more likely to find in a dead mall’s food court and just calling it Japanese casserole.
I’m guessing it’s the latter, but if you’d like to decide for yourself, keep reading.
Oh, and that dead mall link above? That’s another one of our projects…
We’ve covered lasagna dishes on this site before, and 13-15: Vegetarian Lasagna introduces yet another variation of the traditional dish by eschewing tomatoes completely. This version is similar to the Stouffer’s Vegetable Lasagna that my aunt used to bring to dinners all the time as a “homemade dish”. This has no tomato sauce, instead going for cheese and spinach layered between lasagna noodles.
There’s also onions and olives in there as well (I LOVE olives), as well as…chili sauce? I’m not sure why they thought chili sauce was a good addition to this recipe, but at least you can adjust it based on preference.
I’ve already covered various types of turnovers (beef/spinach/crab), and 8-37: Roast Beef in Puff Pastry can now be added to that list, even if it’s not officially referred to by Simply Delicious as a turnover.
I wasn’t able to pinpoint when ready-to-bake puff pastry was first available in stores–my guess would be somewhere around the 1960s-70s, but I could be totally wrong.
Think of this recipe as a fancy Hot Pocket, because that’s essentially what it is. Look at you, all sophisticated with your fancy Hot Pocket.
In these trying times (are you tired of hearing that yet?), it’s important to make the food you have go as far as you can, and to reduce the amount of food being wasted. Even before “the Rona“, I’ve been spending many a Saturday (or Sunday) meal-prepping for the upcoming week, which has brought down our grocery bills (and our waistlines, but apparently not as quickly).
7-31: Lime Cayenne Pork Chops was part of a “pork chop” meal-prep week, prepared in tandem with 7-53: Cider-Braised Pork Chops and served with some mixed roasted potatoes courtesy of the CSA box. It’s “meat and potatoes”, but maybe with a healthier twist?
My mom apparently made this back in November 1993, and it was “good” and “easy”. I’m not sure who ranked it as such (since she doesn’t eat pork), but we’ll go with that recommendation.
When I made 11-9: Fried Jumbo Shrimp, I decided to try to knock out a bunch of recipes at once, thinking I could just buy a few pounds of shrimp and save myself multiple trips to the store. One of the other shrimp recipes I made was this one, 12-21: Luxury Rice with Shrimp.
One of the glaring problems with this theory is that shrimp goes bad QUICKLY, and unless you want to cook/eat a ton of shrimp all at once, you might not end up using all of it in time.
This is what happened to me, and I ended up having to toss a bunch of the shrimp (which was on sale–BIG red flag) before I could even use it and buy more (not on sale this time 💰💰). So much for trying to reduce my environmental and financial impact.
Consider that before you attempt my idea. Also, make sure the recipe is worth it–this one was not even worth rebuying the shrimp, in my opinion.
I’m working through a HUGE backlog right now, so you’re currently getting recipes that I cooked last fall–case in point, 7-53: Cider-Braised Pork Chops. This is more of a fall/autumn-type recipe (when fresh cider is in season), but don’t let that hold you back from your cider-braised, pork-scented dreams.
I came clean in 11-9: Fried Jumbo Shrimp that we’ve been eating plant-based for about 2 years now–most entries that I’ve published since mid-2018 feature me essentially attempting to convert these old recipes into meatless/vegan options. 8-27: Classic Beef Stew will be no different.
I realize that not everyone chooses to eschew meat/dairy, and I’m not here to proselytize or debate it with you. I didn’t write these recipes–the goal of this project has always been to take these existing recipes and attempt to cook them ALL, somehow. The recipes are still here, in their original form–it’s up to you (and me) how to interpret them.
As I mentioned in my last post, this project just passed the 6-year mark, and a lot has changed since I first started it–careers, cities, kitchens, vehicles, family, presidents, even dietary preferences.
For the last two years, we’ve been sticking to a plant-based diet, with the very occasional seafood or dairy indulgence (however, traditional meat itself is totally gone). We’ll still go out for a real sushi dinner here and there (although, not lately due to coronavirus), and every so often, I’ll make a recipe like 11-9: Fried Jumbo Shrimp with real shrimp as a treat.
“Fruit from the sea” as a description for shrimp seems strange to me, even though I know Simply Delicious didn’t coin the term. “Fried Jumbo Shrimp” is what they use to lure you into mediocre chain restaurants–it’s not quite haute cuisine.
I’m not doing a good job of selling you on this dish, am I? Well, since fried food doesn’t travel well as takeout, maybe you’d like to take this “opportunity” to learn how to fry your own?
Pork is probably the most common version of sweet-and-sour that you see in Chinese restaurants–there’s even a vegan version of it you can buy in most stores. In case you’re looking for something more refined (but maybe not as easy or meatless), here’s Serious Eats’ take on it.
Meal-prepping is trendy now, but it’s always been a good idea if you want to save money and calories. 12-24: Cannelloni with Chicken works well if you want to make it on a Sunday, split it up into a few containers, and reheat it throughout the week. At least, that’s how we ate it.
Even Simply Delicious advises you can make this meal ahead of time, although their suggestion is for entertaining guests. This recipe/concept is pretty versatile–it’s good fresh or as leftovers.