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Oct 16, 2018

How to Make Lasagna in Japan

    One of the most challenging aspects of living abroad is the lack of familiar comfort foods. In Japan, I find options for lasagna to be few, far between, and either prohibitively expensive or of extremely poor quality. That's why a few years ago I started making my own, encountering two major problems before things even got going. First, lasagna noodles are expensive and can only be found in some high-end grocery stores or import shops. Second, cheese is either basic or exceedingly expensive as well. For this dish, I used basic shredded cheese from the supermarket and a secret weapon:

How to Make Lasagna in Japan photo

    Eggplant! That's right. A couple of small to medium sized eggplants will work for this, making the dish both healthier and less expensive.

How to Make Lasagna in Japan photo   How to Make Lasagna in Japan photo

    First take off the tops and peel the eggplants. Then slice them thinly. If you're as bad at that as I am, just use the peeler instead. It makes pretty uniform slices

How to Make Lasagna in Japan photo

    Then take out some meat sauce. I recommend planning this dish for a night or two after spaghetti night and using stored excess meat sauce from that. If you don't have that on hand, you could substitute meat and tomato sauce from the grocery store or whip some up by frying up some menchi with seasoning and a can of sliced tomatoes.

How to Make Lasagna in Japan photo

    Layer the bottom of a baking pan or dish that will fit in your "oven" with sliced eggplant. Use the nice slices on the here and on the very top layer. On the layers in between, slightly chunky, uneven and weird slices can be used without affecting the overall outcome.
How to Make Lasagna in Japan photo   How to Make Lasagna in Japan photo
    Then spoon on a thin layer of meat sauce. Then sprinkle on a thin layer of shredded cheese. Layer 1 complete. Cover with eggplant slices, and this time the slices can be uneven or misshapen, so long as they connect to form a layer.

How to Make Lasagna in Japan photo
    See how they overlap a little more than they need to? That's fine. The important thing is that they connect.
How to Make Lasagna in Japan photo

    Repeat this process until you run out of ingredients or space in your dish. In this case, I still had half an eggplant left when my sauce ran out, so that was where I stopped. The top layer should be eggplant, cheese, and seasoning. If you're using store-bought meat-sauce, you should probably add seasoning every layer.

How to Make Lasagna in Japan photo

    This dish can be baked in a number of oven-like appliances, though I have a tendency to use the over function on my microwave, where I put the dish in at 200 degrees Celsius for 90 minutes, but my machine is also a little slow on cooking times, so adjust as needed and check every 15 minutes or so to make sure nothing has blackened yet.

How to Make Lasagna in Japan photo

    This looks great, but there is one small problem: an excess of liquid. Using a spatula to keep the lasagna in place, tilt the dish so that the fluid can escape. If you're resourceful, this lasagna juice could probably be used for another cooking project, but I'm not so much, so it usually goes down the drain in my house.

How to Make Lasagna in Japan photo  

How to Make Lasagna in Japan photo

Slice and serve! 

JTsuzuki

JTsuzuki

A working mom/writer/teacher, Jessica explores her surroundings in Miyagi-ken and Tohoku, enjoying the fun, quirky, and family friendly options the area has to offer.


6 Comments

  • genkidesu

    on Oct 16

    Get in my belly! This looks fabulous, and we always seem to get a surplus of eggplants from our neighbors (not a bad problem to have). I'm hungry now!

  • JTsuzuki

    on Oct 16

    @genkidesu Yay! I notice there is usually a bunhc of cheap eggplant around, almost year round, so it makes for a great way to make use of those veggies before they rot. Rock on!

  • JefferyY

    on Oct 17

    finally found something new to do in Japan.

  • JTsuzuki

    on Oct 19

    @JefferyY Yay!

  • helloalissa

    on Nov 17

    Hahaha... every time I see the top photo (thumbnail for the article), I think it's a picture of shoes at first... oh dear.

  • JTsuzuki

    on Nov 22

    @helloalissa Hahaha. I would actually totally wear eggplant colored shoes.