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In a Hurry? Donburi


When we want a fast, home-style Japanese meal, we turn to the rice dish donburi --plain steamed rice with a topping.

When dishes are more specifically named, they keep the don part of the word. Katsudon is a topping over rice made with pork; Gyudon signifies a rice bowl with beef in the topping.

Cook rice either in the microwave or on top of the stove. We think rice is practically foolproof cooked in the microwave because there is no chance of burning. When cooking it this way, do the rice before the topping because the rice will keep warm while the topping is heating.

Pickled Vegetables, Tsukemono , take no more than five minutes to cook, and the flavorful assortment is something we like to keep in our refrigerators. Tsukemono takes the place of a salad for meals such as Gyudon and Katsudon.

PICKLED VEGETABLES (Tsukemono) 1 1/2 cups rice vinegar or white vinegar 1 cup sugar 1/4 cup soy sauce 1 tablespoon salt 1/2 teaspoon cream of tartar 2 tablespoons sake or dry Sherry 1 small dried red pepper pod or 1 teaspoon dried red pepper flakes 3 slices ginger root, peeled and cut about 1/8-inch thick, then sliced crosswise into matchsticks 1 large carrot, cut into strips 1 peeled European-style cucumber, cut into 3x1/4-inch strips 1 sweet red or green pepper, seeded and cut into strips 1 small peeled eggplant, cut into strips

Combine vinegar, sugar, soy sauce, salt, cream of tartar, sake, red pepper pod and ginger root in 4-cup glass measure. Microwave on HIGH (100% power) 3 to 5 minutes, but don't allow mixture to boil. Stir well to dissolve sugar.

Meanwhile, arrange carrot, cucumber, red pepper and eggplant pieces in clean 1-quart jar with screw top. Pour warmed vinegar mixture over vegetables. (If liquid doesn't completely cover vegetables, add little more vinegar.) Cover jar tightly with lid. Let cool to room temperature and refrigerate at least 24 hours before serving. Mixture will keep, tightly covered, about 1 month in refrigerator. Makes 1 quart.

BEEF WITH VEGETABLE RICE BOWL (Gyudon) 3/4 pound extra-lean ground beef 1 clove garlic, minced 2 teaspoons grated ginger root 1/4 cup sake or dry Sherry 3 tablespoons low-sodium soy sauce 1 tablespoon brown sugar, packed 2 cups fresh peas or 1 (10-ounce) package frozen peas Steamed rice

Combine beef, garlic, ginger root, sake, soy sauce and brown sugar in 2-quart microwave casserole. Spread out evenly. Cover with wax paper and microwave on HIGH (100% power) 3 minutes. Break up meat and stir well. Add peas. Re-cover and microwave on HIGH 3 to 5 minutes.

Spoon steamed rice into 4 large soup bowls. Divide meat, vegetables and sauce among bowls on top of rice. Makes 4 servings.

PORK WITH VEGETABLE RICE BOWL (Katsudon) 12 ounces pork tenderloin, cut into 1x1/2-inch pieces 1/4 cup ketchup 2 tablespoons low-sodium soy sauce 1 tablespoon brown sugar, packed 1 tablespoon orange or lemon juice 2 tablespoons Worcestershire sauce 2 teaspoons grated ginger root 1 clove garlic, minced 2 green peppers, seeded and sliced into 1/4-inch strips Steamed white rice

Place pork pieces in single layer in 10-inch microwave pie plate.

Combine ketchup, soy sauce, brown sugar, orange juice, Worcestershire, ginger root and garlic in small bowl. Spoon sauce over pork, turning meat to coat well. Cover tightly with plastic wrap, turned back slightly on 1 side. Microwave on HIGH (100% power) 5 minutes.

Turn meat pieces over and place lesser cooked inner pieces toward outside of pan. Arrange green pepper strips on top of pork. Recover and cook on HIGH until vegetables are tender-crisp and pork is cooked through, 3 to 5 minutes longer.

Place rice in 4 soup bowls. Evenly spoon pork-vegetable mixture and sauce over rice. Makes 4 servings.

Note: To make long-grained white rice in microwave oven, combine 1 cup long-grain rice, 2 cups hot water and 1 teaspoon salt in 2-quart microwave-safe casserole. Cover and microwave on HIGH (100% power) 5 minutes. Reduce power to MEDIUM (50% power) and cook until liquid is absorbed and rice is tender, 10 to 13 minutes. Fluff with fork before serving. Makes 4 servings.

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