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Let This Breakfast Change Your Life

A straightforward miso-roasted salmon, a staple of a classic Japanese meal, serves as both nourishment and a moment of self-indulgence.

Chef Shota Nakajima’s lifestyle is a testament to early nights, early mornings, and the simple joys of daily routines. With a devoted hour and a half spent walking his dog each morning, Nakajima’s days are fueled by a diet rich in rice, grilled fish, and pickles, especially relished at breakfast. Transitioning from his tumultuous 20s to his contented 30s was a challenging journey, but Nakajima now finds himself in a state of tranquility and satisfaction, what he describes as “just chilling, cranking.”

Conversing with Nakajima feels like glimpsing into a future where I am more fulfilled and at peace. His experience mirrors the concept of a Saturn return, a period of significant change often associated with one’s late 20s to early 30s. As I near the end of my own Saturn return, marked by major life events like new jobs, apartments, and relationships, I seek solace in adopting Nakajima’s practice of Japanese breakfasts.

The traditional ichiju-sansai breakfast, featuring a harmonious balance of rice, protein, and vegetables, serves as a comforting start to the day. Whether it’s a steaming bowl of rice accompanied by miso-glazed fish, sesame-dressed spinach, and a soft-boiled egg, or a selection of homemade pickles, each component contributes to a sense of nourishment and well-being.

Reflecting on past experiences, such as waking up to a lavish Korean breakfast prepared by my aunt, reinforces the significance of culinary rituals in expressing love and care. Cooking for oneself or loved ones becomes not just a chore, but a pathway to happiness and fulfillment, a way to cherish the moments shared together. Embracing the essence of Japanese breakfast, I’ve come to realize that it’s not about lofty aspirations, but about honoring personal preferences, utilizing pantry staples, and savoring the simple joys of everyday life.

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