Celebrate the Tokyo Olympics by eating like an Olympian

With over 48,000 meals to serve each day, feeding Olympic Village is not an easy task. This year, however, the COVID-19 restrictions make it even more challenging – no athlete is allowed to leave the village, except for training and competitions. This means that at Tokyo 2020, athletes will only be allowed to eat in the village, unlike in other years, where they were allowed to visit restaurants and sample the local cuisine. 

Tokyo 2020’s food and beverage department has the mammoth task of feeding every single athlete, and they’ve decided to do things in style. Their three main menus are split into Western, Asian (which covers Chinese, Indian and Vietnamese) and Japanese food, as well as separate menus to cater to just about every religious and dietary restriction. 

Want to eat like an athlete? We’ve put together some of our favourite recipes that are inspired by the meals being served in Olympic Village. 

Easy Homemade Ramen 

Recipe and photo credit: pinchofyum.com

Ramen is a Japanese noodle soup that, in recent years, has taken the western world by storm. It is thought that Ramen was first introduced in Japan in the 1660s by a Chinese student, but there are multiple theories surrounding its origin. This recipe is quick, fun and easy to make – perfectly suitable for an athlete. 

What you need: 

 

Seasonings and toppings (optional) 

 

How to make: 

Start by heating the sesame oil over medium heat in a large skillet. Add the ginger and garlic, then stir fry for 2 minutes, until it’s soft. Add the broth and water, and bring it to a simmer.  

Add the mushrooms and simmer for 10 minutes, or until the mushrooms have softened. After that, add the instant noodles to the hot mixture and let it simmer for an additional 5 minutes, then add the scallions and stir. 

Remove the skillet from heat and stir in the kale and carrots. Top with panko crumbs, and add a soft-boiled egg. Finally, season with chilli oil, hot sauce, sesame oil, salt and soy sauce. 

Vegetable Tempura 

Recipe and photo credit: delish.com

Tempura is a Japanese dish, that refers to anything that has been dipped in batter and deep-fried. While this Japanese-inspired recipe is 100% vegetarian, you can swap in some prawns or fish if you’d prefer. 

What you need: 

For the vegetable tempura 

 

For the batter 

 

For the dipping sauce 

 

How to make: 

Start by filling a large pot half full with vegetable or rapeseed oil, then heat it over medium heat until it reaches 190°C. 

While it’s heating, you can start on the batter. Whisk together your flour and cornflour in a large bowl. Mix together your egg and sparkling water, then add to the dry mixture and stir until combined. 

Add your chopped vegetables into the batter, making sure they’re coated thoroughly. Lower your battered vegetables into the oil, about three pieces at a time, ensuring that any excess batter drips off back into the bowl. 

Fry the vegetables until lightly golden, making sure to turn them frequently – it should take around 1½ minutes. Remove the pieces, place them on a paper-towel-lined plate and season with salt immediately. Continue this process until all the vegetables are cooked. 

To make the sauce, whisk together mayonnaise, hot sauce and garlic. Place in a small dipping bowl and enjoy! 

Okonomiyaki 

Recipe and photo credit: quitegoodfood.co.nz

Okonomiyaki is a nutritious Japanese savoury pancake. The work ‘okonomi’ means ‘what you like’, and ‘yaki’ means ‘cooked’ – this dish is essentially cooked how you like it, meaning you can add and take out ingredients as you please. 

What you need: 

To serve, your choice of: 

Kewpie mayonnaise 

 

How to make: 

Start by putting the cabbage, spring onion, egg, soy sauce, flour and water in a bowl and mix well. Heat a frying pan over medium-low heat and add a splash of oil. Tip the okonomiyaki mix into the pan and use a spatula to form it into a 2cm thick pancake shape. Make sure you cook it slowly, ensuring that the inside isn’t raw.

Once it’s golden brown on the bottom, carefully flip the pancake and cook on the other side. If it helps, you can put a lid on the pan to help it cook. Remove the pancake and serve immediately, or keep it warm in a low heat oven while you make more! Add your desired toppings, slice into wedges and enjoy! 

Simple Oden 

Recipe and photo credit: cookforyourlife.org

Oden is a one-pot stew from Japan, filled with an assortment of vegetables, fish cakes, tofu, hard-boiled eggs and veggies, all simmered in a soy-sauce based broth. It’s a classic winter comfort dish and is packed full of vitamins – perfect for an active lifestyle. 

What you need: 

Optional:  

 

How to make: 

First, put the seaweed into a large stewing pot, covering it with enough cold water to cover it completely, and let it soak for 20 minutes. Once it has soaked, heat the pot over a high flame, until it’s nearly boiling, then turn down to medium-low heat and let it simmer. Add the radish and carrots to the pot, adding more water until they’re covered too.

Let them stew gently simmer, until the vegetables are tender and the seaweed is soft – this should take around an hour. Add the potatoes and cook for 20 minutes, then add the hardboiled egg, tofu and fish cakes (if you're using them). 

Cook for a further 20 minutes, then cut up the seaweed in the pot with a spatula, and add soy sauce. Mix the ground mustard seeds with a little water to create a paste, then set it aside. Serve the stew with a small spoonful of the mustard (it’s very hot) to mix in with the broth, if desired. 

Vegan Coconut Panna Cotta 

Recipe credit: veganuary.com

While Panna Cotta isn’t a Japanese dish (it’s Italian), it is rumoured that one of the menus at the Olympic Village will feature an edamame Panna Cotta. This recipe is slightly different, but it’s vegan, and therefore friendlier to our planet! 

What you need: 

For the Panna Cotta: 

For the raspberry compote: 

 

How to make: 

First, make the Panna Cottas, which must be made at least 4 hours before serving. Alternatively, you can make them a day in advance and refrigerate them overnight. 

Start by adding 4 tablespoons of cold water to a small bowl, and stir in 2 teaspoons of agar agar – set it aside for 5 minutes to ‘bloom’. Add the coconut milk, coconut cream, sugar and vanilla pod to a saucepan and bring it to a boil. Whisk in the agar agar mixture, then let it boil for another minute before sieving it into a large mixing bowl. 

Carefully pour the mixture into your serving glasses/dishes and let them cool for 30 minutes before putting them in the fridge for at least 4 hours. 

Once the Panna Cottas are set, you can start on the compote. Add the raspberries, lemon juice, water and sugar to a medium saucepan and crush the raspberries with a spoon. Bring the mixture to a boil, then stir it occasionally for a few minutes. Then, turn the heat right down and leave the pan uncovered on a low simmer, until most of the water has evaporated and the fruit is cooked. Keep stirring the mixture every 10 minutes or so.  

Set aside the compote for 50 minutes, and when it's cool, scoop an even amount on top of each Panna Cotta. Serve within 2-3 hours of assembling, and enjoy!