This self-isolation period is probably the best time for us to try our hands at something new. Cooking is a practical skill, especially in times like these, where you won’t be able to survive on takeout the whole time. Whether you’re experienced in the kitchen or not, here are a few simple Japanese recipes to whip up if you’ve got around an hour to spare. Who knows, maybe a few of these recipes may become part of your staple soon!
1. Japanese Style Hot Pot (Nabe)
Nabe is the epitome of comfort food as the Aussie weather starts to get chilly. There’s just something about having hot pot during the cold weather… and you’ll be surprised how simple it is to put together!
All you need for Nabe is the soup base of your choice and vegetables. The usual list includes items like Chinese cabbage, pork/ chicken, shallots, mushrooms and tofu. You don’t need a fancy hot pot (of course, having one is a plus) as you can always cook them on a regular pot on a stovetop and serve it as a soup dish. To read more about the popular soup types and the recipe, click on this link and start cooking!
2. Curry Rice
Japanese curry rice is very popular and commonly found in Japan. Japanese curry is a mellowed version of some of the other Asian versions of curry you may be used to, both in spice level and flavour. It’s also of thicker consistency. Don’t get me wrong, it still tastes awesome! There’s a reason why it’s a go-to for many Japanese from all walks of life.
The most important item to get your hands on is the curry roux, which usually comes in three different spice levels: sweet, medium or hot. The curry roux can be easily found in Asian grocers, and usually costs around $4-5. To cook, fry up your choice of meat and vegetables (usually onions, carrots and potatoes, but it’s really up to you) and combine the curry roux after. You are not limited to just having the curry with rice, so why not try it with udon, spaghetti or even a curry bake version? To read more about curry rice, visit this link.
3. Japanese Salad
It’s really important to maintain a balanced diet, especially in times like these. Japanese salads are light on the stomach and are a pack full of flavour and nutrients and vitamins. Their delicious salad dressings are the cherry on top! Japanese salads are probably no stranger to anyone who has had a proper Japanese meal as they’re usually served as a small side dish.
Some of the ‘special’ ingredients that are included in Japanese salads such as tofu, wakame (dried seaweed), shin-konbu (salty seaweed), natto and dried bonito flakes. There are different salad dressings to go with the salads too, such as sesame (a personal favourite), wafu (Japanese-style soy-based dressing), non-oil and mayonnaise. Click here to learn more about the recipes and salad dressings, and click here to learn more about other Japanese ingredients to boost your immune system.
4. Teriyaki Sauce
Teriyaki sauce, a versatile favourite! Now you can make your own at home, and you’d be surprised at how simple it is to make– you literally only need soy sauce, mirin, sake and white sugar! Read more about the recipe here.
Now you have this super sauce that may even become a mainstay in a few of your kitchens! It’s definitely a game changer you can use as a glaze for baking meat or tofu, or as a sauce for stir-fry. It’s also used widely in many popular Japanese dishes. See more recipes here.
Who doesn’t love dumplings, especially when they’re pan-fried? You may be used to gyoza as a side dish but it can in fact be enjoyed alone as a main dish. It may seem difficult and time-consuming to make these bad boys in your own kitchen, but it gets fun once you get used to the preparation process.
Of course, you can change up what goes into the fillings depending on what you prefer as well. If you’re trying your hand at making dumplings for the first time, be patient with yourself when you’re wrapping them as it does take a bit of getting used to. This recipe is also freezer-friendly, which means you can enjoy more dumplings along the week!
Yakisoba is the Japanese version of stir-fried noodles. It is a common takeaway food in convenience stores across Japan, as it is a simple to-go dish enjoyed by everyone. They are also a popular street food commonly cooked up in large quantities on an even larger hotplate. There have been different variations of Yakisoba in recent years, including Yakisoba-pan, where Yakisoba is served in a hotdog bun.
The star of the dish is the sauce that is a mix of Worcestershire sauce (the Japanese equivalent is the “Bulldog” brand sauce), oyster sauce, ketchup, soy sauce and sugar. It may sound a bit of a strange combination at first, but this is how it is traditionally made. Find the recipe here.
7. Oyakodon (Chicken and Egg Bowl)
Oyakodon literally translates to “parent-and-child donburi”, in which the chicken is the “parent” and the egg is the “child”. It’s a really popular dish in Japan, uses healthy ingredients and doesn’t require any oil as there is no frying involved, only simmering of the chicken in a light mix of sauces.
Seasoned with mirin, dashi and soy sauce, Oyakodon is another light but flavourful dish. As always, you can always add extra ingredients, such as mushrooms, edamame or season with nori to your choice. The recipe can be found here.
If you’ve been to Yoshinoya in Japan, Gyudon is no stranger to you. The Japanese fast-food chain specialises in this dish and has many variations of it. Similar to Oyakodon, Gyudon is a beef bowl cooked with mirin, sake, soy sauce and sugar. It’s a flavourful and healthy dish that is also commonly found in Japan.
It’s a simple dish with just eggs, beef and onions. Don’t be fooled by this, there’s just something about the sweetness of the sauce and onions that go so well with the beef and egg! You may even try adding an onsen tamago(soft poached egg) on top. The recipe can be found here.
Hopefully, these recipes have given you some inspiration to try something new in the kitchen. Now you can enjoy even more Japanese food in the comfort of your own home!