Best Authentic Japanese Recipes | SAVEUR

Our Best Japanese Recipes to Make Right Now

We've got all the essentials from dashi to chirashi

For a long time in America, "Asian food" was synonymous with Japanese food because of its familiarity and international visibility. Japan boasts one of the world's richest culinary cultures—not insignificantly, it has more Michelin-starred restaurants than France—and one that has historically emphasized seasonal, vegetable-heavy ingredients. Nowadays, there's also a plethora of seafood offerings that range from grilled and tempura-fried to raw fish, such as sushi and sashimi. Then there's the meat: who could forget about Japanese barbecue, or yakitori? On the starch side, noodles like udon, soba, and ramen are standouts. From traditional dishes to modern takes on classics, here are our best essential Japanese recipes to try today. Itadakimasu!

Japanese Rolled Omelet (Dashi-Maki Tamago)

Japanese Rolled Omelet (Dashi-Maki Tamago)

This Japanese egg dish can be served on its own with grated radish and soy sauce, sliced and incorporated into sushi, or as a sweet bite at the end of a meal.

Kimiko Barber, author of Cook Japanese at Home, uses a traditional square tamago pan to make this Tokyo-style rolled omelet, which is often sweetened with mirin, a Japanese sweet rice wine. Dashi-maki tamago can be served on its own with grated radish and soy sauce, sliced and incorporated into sushi, or as a sweet bite at the end of a meal. Get the recipe for Japanese Rolled Omelet »

Matt Taylor-Gross

Japanese Omelet Fried Rice (Omurice)

Japanese Omelet Fried Rice (Omurice)

Yōshoku—literally “Western food”—is a subset of Japanese cooking that originated at the turn of the 20th century. During the Meiji period, as Japan increased its global presence, Western ingredients and cooking techniques became fashionable, and yōshoku cuisine was was born. Omurice, one of the most popular yōshoku recipes, combines Japanese fried rice, French omelet-making technique, and American ketchup, gravy, or demi-glace. Get the recipe for Japanese Omelet Fried Rice »

Max Falkowitz

Japanese Hamburger Steak

Japanese Hamburger Steak

At Ethel’s Grill on Oahu, Hawaii, juicy pork-and-beef patties are served over salty-sweet ponzu sauce and crisp cabbage, and topped with grated daikon and spicy sprouts. Get the recipe for Japanese Hamburger Steak »

James Oseland

Japanese-Style Swiss Chard and Sesame Salad

JAPANESE-STYLE SWISS CHARD AND SESAME SALAD

Turn tough chard leaves tender by giving them a light pounding, then dress them in this light sesame-flavored vinaigrette. It's the perfect side to Amy Thielen's Japan-meets-Midwest tonkatsu burger Get the recipe for Japanese-Style Swiss Chard and Sesame Salad »

Matt Taylor-Gross

Japanese Sashimi and Rice (Chirashi)

Chirashi

Making sushi at home can be a challenge fraught with angst. That's where chirashi comes in. It's a rice bowl covered in colorful slices of fish, glistening balls of orange roe, and a rainbow of other garnishes from sesame seeds to seaweed promising all the architectural potential we lust for in a well-made sushi platter—but with far less effort. Get the recipe for Japanese Sashimi and Rice (Chirashi) »

Stacy Adimando

Home-Style Chicken Ramen

Chicken Ramen

The broth is a relatively simple but deeply flavored chicken base layered with fresh ramen noodles, poached chicken breast, soft soy eggs, and a delicate fennel oil. Get the recipe for Home-Style Chicken Ramen »

Matt Taylor-Gross

Japanese Tea Leaf Salad

Japanese Tea Leaf Salad

Don't throw away those premium green tea leaves after you've steeped them—save them for this simple salad perfect over steamed rice or folded into eggs. Get the recipe for Japanese Tea Leaf Salad »

Matt Taylor-Gross

Dashi Stock

Kombu

Dashi—a seaweed-based broth—is the ubiquitous foundation of Japanese cooking. Used to make miso, soups, sauces, and marinades, it imbues everything with a hit of umami and a dose of briny ocean flavor. Dried mushrooms and bonito (dried fish flakes) add even deeper, more pungent flavor. Get the recipe for Dashi Stock »

Matt Taylor-Gross

Japanese Rice Balls (Onigiri)

Japanese Rice Balls (Onigiri)

There are two different styles of onigiri: those that are stuffed and those that have seasonings mixed in. For the filled variety, umeboshi (pickled plums), cubes of salt-cured salmon, or tarako (cod roe) are often encased in the warm rice, and then eaten as is or wrapped in nori (dried seaweed). For others, seasonings like toasted black sesame seeds, yukari (red shiso powder), or sakebushi (dried salmon flakes) are simply mixed with the rice and then shaped into the typical triangle, ball, or cylinder shapes. Most importantly, when shaping the rice for onigiri, take care not to compact the rice too firmly. Press until the grains just hold together. Get the recipe for Japanese Rice Balls (Onigiri) »

Andrea Fazzari

Fresh Soba Noodels

Fresh Soba Noodles

Fresh buckwheat noodles are a staple of Japanese cuisine, second only to rice as the most consumed grain in that country. Here is how to make it from scratch. Get the recipe for Fresh Soba Noodles »

Dylan + Jeni

Hot Soba Noodles with Chicken and Egg

Hot Soba Noodles with Chicken and Egg

Adds spinach, soy-and-mirin-basted chicken thighs, and fresh, earthy soba noodles to this light, brothy soup spiked with fresh ginger juice. Get the recipe for Hot Soba with Chicken and Egg »

Dylan + Jeni

Soba Salad with Lemon-Miso Vinaigrette

Soba Salad with Lemon-Miso Vinaigrette

This refreshing salad of soba noodles tossed with winter greens and mixed vegetables is brought together by a tart dressing of miso, ginger juice, and lemon. Get the recipe of Soba Salad with Lemon-Miso Vinaigrette »

Dylan + Jeni

Cold Soba with Mushroom and Leek Seiro Broth

Cold Soba

To eat this dish from Sonoko Sakai, lift cold soba noodles, one mouthful at a time, with chopsticks, dip them into the hot seiro, or broth, flavored with sautéed leeks and enoki mushrooms, and slurp them up quickly. This method retains the soba noodles' integrity, preventing them from swelling or getting soggy while sitting in the hot broth. Get the recipe for Cold Soba with Mushroom and Leek Seiro Broth »

Dylan + Jeni

Japanese Egg Custard (Chawanmushi)

chawanmushi

A versatile hero of the Japanese kitchen, chawanmushi is the dish for all meals and all kitchens: a simple savory egg custard that's easier to make than an omelet and just as customizable. Get the recipe for Japanese Egg Custard (Chawanmushi) »

Matt Taylor-Gross

Bitter Melon and Tofu Stir-Fry with Pork Belly and Eggs (Goya Champuru)

Bitter Melon and Tofu Stir-Fry with Pork Belly and Eggs (Goya Champuru)

Soft tofu, scrambled eggs, and rich pork belly stand up to astringent bitter melon in this flavorful stir-fry. Get the recipe for Bitter Melon and Tofu Stir-Fry with Pork Belly and Eggs (Goya Champuru) »

Justin Walker

Spinach and Tofu Salad with Peanut–Miso Dressing

Spinach and Tofu Salad with Peanut–Miso Dressing

Tofu adds creaminess to this spare salad of spinach dressed with peanut butter and red miso paste. Get the recipe for Spinach and Tofu Salad with Peanut–Miso Dressing »

Andrea Fazzari

Noodles in Dashi with Miso-Coated Pork Belly

Noodles in Dashi with Miso-Coated Pork Belly

Red miso paste, more fermented than its blond counterparts, adds piquancy to pork belly cooked with brown sugar, mirin, and sesame seeds. Get the recipe for Noodles in Dashi with Miso-Coated Pork Belly »

Andrea Fazzari

Marinated Mozuku Seaweed with Cucumber

Marinated Mozuku Seaweed with Cucumber

In Okinawa, mozuku seaweed is eaten simply dressed with vinegar and soy sauce in this small appetizer. Get the recipe for Marinated Mozuku Seaweed with Cucumber »

Justin Walker

Braised Pork Belly with Leeks and Ginger

Braised Pork Belly with Leeks and Ginger

Awamori, a lightly sweet rice distillate, is used to blanch and cook—as well as coat—tender pork belly, resulting in a sticky, umami-rich sauce. Get the recipe for Braised Pork Belly with Leeks and Ginger »

Matt Taylor-Gross

Clam, Leek, and King Oyster Mushroom Foil Yaki

Leek and Clam Foil Yaki

Clams, leeks, and king oyster mushrooms get cooked in a foil pouch that resembles a Jiffy Pop. Get the recipe for Clam, Leek, and King Oyster Mushroom Foil Yaki »

Matt Taylor-Gross

Mixed Mushroom Foil Yaki

Mushroom Foil Yaki

Mushrooms get cooked in a foil pouch with Asian sauces in this effortless "one-foil" dish. Get the recipe for Mixed Mushroom Foil Yaki »

Matt Taylor-Gross

Sakura Martini

Sakura Martini

Tokyo native Kenta Goto of Bar Goto in New York City has elevated the once-maligned saketini to a state of floral elegance by mixing Plymouth gin with oak-aged Junmai sake, sweet maraschino liqueur, and salted cherry blossoms. Get the recipe for Sakura Martini »

Matt Taylor-Gross

Koji-Cured Grilled Salmon

Koji-Cured Grilled Salmon

The Japanese ingredient koji is the fungus that grows on rice, barley, soybeans, or corn after it is inoculated with Aspergillus oryzae. It resembles thin rice porridge and is full of enzymes that produce amino acids when they interact with protein. One of those amino acids, glutamate, is responsible umami, which is present in miso and soy sauce and makes foods especially savory and flavorful. Ama-koji, called for here, has no salt, so you can control the seasoning yourself. In this simple recipe, it's added to salmon fillets before they hit the grill, which lightly cures them and adds an umami kick. Get the recipe for Koji-Cured Grilled Salmon »

Farideh Sadeghin

Japanese-Style Chicken Wings

Japanese Fried Chicken

Sansho, the Japanese equivalent of Sichuan pepper, adds kick to these sake-and-mirin-marinated wings. A fresh squeeze of lemon brightens them up for serving. Get the recipe for Japanese-Style Chicken Wings »

Nicole Franzen

Braised Sea Bass with Burdock

Braised Sea Bass with Burdock

A quick rinse in boiling water purifies the fish and concentrates its flavor. Get the recipe for Braised Sea Bass with Burdock »

Ingalls Photography

Uguisu Mochi

Mochi

For this dessert, adzuki bean paste is wrapped in an extremely tender, sticky rice dough called gyūhi. The toasted green soybean flour that is dusted over the sweet is reminiscent of the revered bird, shaded in greens.

Michelle Heimerman

Japanese New Year's Soup

Japanese New Year's Soup

In Japanese homes on the first day of the year, the dish to eat is ozoni, a good luck soup composed of pink-rimmed fish cake, daikon, carrot, and shiitake mushrooms floating in a rich dashi (kelp and bonito broth) along with mochi, chewy rice cakes, which are oven-toasted until they resemble fire-licked marshmallows. Get the recipe for Japanese New Year's Soup »

Ingalls Photography

Vegetables Pickled in Kelp Vinegar

Vegetables Pickled in Kelp Vinegar

Dashi, an enhanced kelp stock with rich umami flavor, is a staple component of Japanese cooking; it has the remarkable effect of accentuating the flavors of anything cooked in it. Here, it adds depth to a pickle brine from award-winning cookbook author Hiroko Shimbo. We use radishes, but any sturdy vegetables, such as peppers, cauliflower, or onions, will do. Get the recipe for Vegetables Pickled in Kelp Vinegar »

Andre Baranowski

Dashi-Braised Chicken with Root Vegetables

Dashi-Braised Chicken with Root Vegetables

Dashi, an enhanced kelp stock with rich umami flavor, is a staple component of Japanese cooking; it has the remarkable effect of accentuating the flavors of anything cooked in it. At the Los Angeles restaurant n/naka, chef Niki Nakayama uses it to braise chicken thighs and root vegetables for a hearty, comforting dish. Get the recipe for Dashi-Braised Chicken with Root Vegetables »

Andre Baranowski

Japanese Battleship Curry

Japanese Curry

This curry recipe is based on the one served aboard the navy patrol ship Hachijo each Friday. Get the recipe for Japanese Battleship Curry »

Todd Coleman

Makombu-Squash Soup

Makombu Squash Soup

Any root vegetable—squash, carrots, turnips, potatoes—can be used to make this silky, umami-rich soup from award-winning Japanese cookbook author Hiroko Shimbo. Get the recipe for Makombu-Squash Soup »

André Baranowski

Sesame Tofu

gomatofu

Taking shortcuts is technically counter to the point of cooking shojin ryori, or Japanese temple cuisine, as the word shojin means “earnest effort.” No dish demonstrates the monk’s dedication to hard work like gomatofu, a tofu lookalike made using ground sesame that’s served as an appetizer. The most earnest cooks use unhulled, untoasted sesame seeds, which are the hardest to grind into a paste and extract flavor from (the monks soak them, then grind them for up to an hour by hand to do so). But if you prefer to go the convenience route, use toasted hulled seeds and a high-powered blender. Kuzu root, common in Asian kitchens, is often sold dried and ground into a starch that can be used as a thickener or to add shine and body to soups and other dishes (it’s often labeled kuzu root powder or kuzuko). The top-of-the-line variety is called Yoshino-Kuzu and is made from wild mountain roots near Kyoto. Get the recipe for Sesame Tofu »

William Hereford

Yuba-Cloaked Lily Bulbs and Shiitakes in Broth

Yuba-cloaked lily bulbs and  shiitakes in broth

Called a wanmono, this winter vegetable soup is named for the squat bowl, or wan, in which it is served. This version uses kuzu root powder as a thickener, suspending the grated turnip in the enriched broth (the suspended white strands mimic sleet, or mizore). If necessary, substitute arrowroot or cornstarch for the kuzu powder. Lily bulbs can be found fresh at Asian markets, and domestically produced yuba is available online at hodosoy.com. Get the recipe for Yuba-Cloaked Lily Bulbs and Shiitakes in Broth »

William Hereford

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