Shirou from Today’s Menu for the Emiya Family, of Fate/Stay Night fame, is quite the cook. I’ve remarked on this before, but I think it’s pretty awesome. In the Fate/Stay anime, he’s so cool and battle-ready! It’s fun to see him in the kitchen cooking up something delicious, and this week he coincidentally gives us the PERFECT dish to make for your mom this Mother’s Day- Bamboo Gratin, a creamy, cheesy, pasta and bamboo dish.
This recipe is simple, delicious, yet elegant at the same time. If you’re stuck on what to do for Mother’s Day, I’d really recommend this. It’s like a Japanese- inspired version of mac n’ cheese, using some truly Japanese ingredients to produce a unique baked pasta dish that still has that familar, home-cooked comfort to it. And, if you want to do something with her, why don’t you show her the anime as well? You can bond together over non-violent, pure-hearted cooking tutorials.
In terms of home-cooking, this spinoff is absolutely the winner. The meals are easy to make, don’t take an obscene amount of time, and the ingredients themselves aren’t too hard to come by. Even the bamboo shoots, which this dish utilizes, I was able to find canned in my local Japanese supermarket. What I love about this spinoff is the treatment of the food. Where a show like Food Wars is hardcore when it comes to making food and appreciating the food, Today’s Menu for the Emiya Family is much more considerate, more caring to the process. It’s relaxing, which Food Wars totally isn’t, and it’s also more instructional and functional in terms of teaching us how to cook. Shirou explains everything so clearly and concisely, it’s more about the process of putting together delicious food, rather than the fantastic ingredients or amazing technique.
The idea behind this particular dish is great, too. It’s a bamboo gratin. Until this point, I’d only ever heard of potato gratins, which are sliced potatoes bathed in cream and butter and topped off with cheese. I mean, sounds good, right?? As it turns out, pretty much anything can be a gratin as long as it’s topped with cheese and breadcrumbs. Theoretically, you could have a gratin grilled cheese, or gratin steak, or gratin soup. Oooooh….what if you made a gratin tomato soup? That would be fun. HOWEVER this dish is comprised of chicken, onion, macaroni pasta, and, of course, bamboo shoots. Which…if you’re familiar with traditional mac and cheese, which has bread crumbs on the top…is SORT OF similar to this bamboo gratin. Hence, Japanese inspired mac and cheese!!!
My friends, it’s not just the Japanese mac and cheese in name- the sauce base is a creamy roux, made with a Japanese cream stew mix, similar to a cheese based roux in American mac and cheese. The addition of the onion, asparagus, and the chicken bulks it up and makes it into a full-blown meal, and the toppings- cheese and bread crumbs- take it to the next level, upping the textures of the overall dish to make it multi-faceted.
Is this dish worth trying? Undeniably. Make it for a large group of friends (The below recipe would feed 4 EXTREMELY hungry people, or 6 with maybe a side of salad), or just make it to share with your mom (and give her tasty leftovers for the week ahead!). Whatever you choose to do, watch the video below to get more pointers on how exactly to make this dish!