Exploring the internet has taught me that people are really intimidated by Japanese cooking. A lot of this has to do with presentation. While most countries adopt a minimalist approach to plating, Japan loves elaborate presentations that show off the meals colors and textures.
So while Japanese food looks complicated, it can be super easy to prepare! Here are some beginner level recipes you should try.
*All images belong to their respective linked websites.
Donabe is a super easy and tasty one-pot meal that makes use of earthenware. Everything gets simmered in a pot, making prep and clean up an easy task! While donabe is a flexible meal, here are some tips if you want to cook a winner:
- Fish-chicken combo is a flavor winner. You can mix what fish is being used (shrimp + squid for example) or go all-in with white fish. Whatever you think tastes best with chicken.
- Slice the vegetables instead of cutting them into chunks, since slices cook faster.
- Make sure the pot isn’t overfilled with ingredients to make sure nothing overflows during simmering.
Sample recipe: Anything Goes Donabe (Epicurious)
Miso is another super flexible dish you can cook up in no time and add extra protein to for a complete meal ! All you need for a super simple version is some thinly sliced meat or tofu, dashi (can be store-bought), and flavorful miso paste.
Your soup can be as elaborate or simple as your heart desires, so don’t be afraid to experiment with different flavor profiles!
Sample recipe: 15-Minute Miso Soup With Greens and Tofu (Minimalist Baker)
Many people confuse teriyaki for a sauce when it’s actually a cooking style – and a simple one at that!
To cook teriyaki, you just need to broil or grill meat with a glaze made of soy sauce, mirin (a type of sweet cooking sake), and sugar! Traditional teriyaki uses fish like salmon, trout, or tuna.
You could use a bottled teriyaki sauce from the store, but it tastes very different from the real thing.
Sample recipe: Teriyaki Salmon (Gordon Ramsay)
Cooking doesn’t get any easier than is! All you are doing is combining rice with ground beef for a simple meal or side.
Sample recipe: Soboro Beef (bon appétit)
5Asari no Sakamushi
Don’t let the exotic name scare you! Asari no Sakamushi is clams steamed in sake. It’s a popular spring dish and can be cooked in no time. If you’ve never cooked clams before, you’ll know they’re finished the moment the shells open.
Sample recipe: Asari no Sakamushi (Food in Japan)
Yaki Nasu is chilled grilled eggplant that is excellent in salads or as an appetizer.
You use Japanese, Italian, or Chinese eggplant because of their thin skin and sweet flesh. Just grill them up, peel the skin off, and chill in the fridge for an hour before serving.
Sample recipe: Yaki Nasu (The Spruce)
Gyudon is a foolproof meal that requires real effort to screw up.
It’s a one-pot meal that combines the savory flavor of beef with the sweetness of onions. Those ingredients are simmered in a combination of dashi, soy sauce, and mirin before topping noodles or rice.
You can also add a variety of extras to gyudon, with poached eggs being the most popular.
Sample recipe: Gyudon (Serious Eats)
Chilled tofu + soy sauce drizzle + grated ginger = a fast summer delight.
Sample recipe: Hiyayakko (The Kitchn)