The Easiest Japanese Recipes You Can Make At Home

There's no need to be a pro Japanese chef to get these umami-packed dishes.

Japanese cooking is one of the most distinct Asian cuisines you can have. The skills required and the flavors achieved are always worlds away from what we normally cook at home.

We can't exactly teach you to be professional Japanese chefs, but you can check out these easy recipes that won't require you to be one. All you need are a few Japanese kitchen staples to get those distinct Japanese flavor notes, and you'll be able to make these dishes, and then some.

Photo by Miguel Nacianceno

1 Seafood Teppanyaki Recipe

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The Chinese have their stir-fries, and the Japanese have their teppanyaki. In both cases, you get your favorite vibrant flavors effortlessly. This dish is extra delicious, thanks to an abundance of seafood. Don't just stop with this recipe though! Feel free to add more: tuna, mussels, and other seafood.

Japanese kitchen staple: Sake (Japanese rice wine) is used the same way other cuisines use their cooking wines. It's used as a marinade that can both tenderize the meat and remove foul odors. It's also another way, yet again, to add umami and subtle sweetness. If you can't find sake, or perhaps a convenience store is closer than the grocery store, you can substitute this ingredient with soju.

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2 Bangus Belly Donburi Recipe

This rice bowl dish is topped with a delicious milkfish belly that is sure to make you smile with how delicious it is. This dish's quick 30-minute marinade infuses the boneless milkfish fillet with so much umami!

Japanese kitchen staple: Dashi or dashijiru is Japanese fish stock. It can be made of dried kelp, dried bonito flakes, anchovies, or shiitake mushrooms. It packs a lot of umami! This is one of the most important Japanese staples. However, if you don't have it on hand, we have two substitutes you can try: fish bouillon cubes or powder or a water and patis solution!

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Jan 28, 2015

Photo by Patrick Martires

3 Japanese Steamed Fish Recipe

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This 30-minute dish uses mild-flavored and tender cream dory. This means even picky eaters will love it since it doesn't have any bones.

Japanese kitchen staple: Japanese cooking is all about different sources of umami. Another source of umami they commonly use is mirin (Japanese sweet rice wine). A quick substitute is a white wine sweetened with sugar.

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Photo by Miguel Nacianceno

4 Japanese Fried Rice with Ham Katsu Recipe

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Can you believe this dish only takes 20 minutes? That's because katsu usually use meats that need a little prep time but by using ham, you're cutting down on time.

Japanese kitchen staple: Second to the decadent seafood included in this recipe, is the sticky Japanese rice. This glutinous short-grained rice clumps together well so you can eat it with your chopsticks! It's also the key ingredient to seasoned sushi rice.

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5 Kani Stick Salad Recipe

This 10-minute quick salad is a symphony of textures and flavors in your mouth. You get tender kani, creamy Japanese mayo, salty fish roe, and crisp lettuce leaves.

Japanese kitchen staple: Kani (imitation crab stick) is made of white fish and dyed to resemble snow crabs. It's slightly sweet, tender, and so easy to store in your freezer.

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Jul 28, 2010

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6 Beef Sukiyaki Sotanghon Recipe

This 25-minute sukiyaki bowl is one comforting bowl of noodles. It's got sweet, salty, umami, and even nutty, thanks to the infused Japanese flavors.

Japanese kitchen staple: Sesame oil and sesame seeds are staples in the Japanese kitchen. They're also a staple with Chinese recipes so make sure that you always have them in stock!

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7 Tuna Mayo Rice Balls Recipe

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In just 20 minutes, you can be living out your dream as an anime character munching on some onigiri (rice balls). It's no surprise that rice and viands are a match made in heaven, but the addition of umami-packed Japanese mayonnaise and crispy, roasted seaweed (nori) is one that takes every bite up a notch.

Japanese kitchen staple: As you've probably gathered by now, umami is the heart and soul of Japanese cooking. It's what sets Japanese mayonnaise apart from your regular mayonnaise. To easily make a substitute, whisk 1/2 cup real mayonnaise with 1/2 teaspoon sugar, 1/2 teaspoon MSG, and 1 large raw egg yolk until thickened and light. Adjust seasoning to taste.

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Photo by Patrick Martires

8 Pork Tonkatsu Rice Ball Recipe

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It takes half an hour to make this perfect baon! In this recipe for an onigarazu (rice ball sandwich), you get crispy nori, tender rice, crunchy panko breadcrumbs, crisp cabbage, and delicious, meaty pork chops in every bite.

Japanese kitchen staple: Panko breadcrumbs get less oily and stay crunchy for longer. Although a staple in Japanese recipes, they're now widely used in other cuisines as well.

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Photo by Miguel Nacianceno | Styling by Sharlene Tan

9 Hiyashi Soba Recipe

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Not all noodles are meant to be served hot. Buckwheat noodles, specifically, are best served cold so they can retain the perfect consistency: firm, chewy, and hardy. We commonly associate ramen bowls with cold, rainy days, but you might want to serve this recipe on hot days so you can stay cool.

Japanese kitchen staple: There's nothing quite like nori (roasted seaweed sheets). It's crispy, umami-rich, and sometimes, seasoned with even more MSG for more umami. If you're making onigiri (rice balls) or using it as a topping for noodles, keep in mind that it's best crispy, so add it in late. However, if you want that delicious nori flavor seeping into your soup, sure, add it in early! Why not?

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Mar 7, 2013

Photo by Patrick Martires

10 Tuna Donburi (Tuna Rice Bowl) Recipe

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Sometimes, all you need are those classic flavors and you're good to go: fresh tuna, rice, and nori!

Japanese kitchen staple: Don't just get any kind of tuna for your Japanese recipes, especially if they're to be served raw. You need to get sashimi or sushi-grade tuna. This tuna is treated right from the time it was caught to the time it was sold: meaning it's safe to consume without cooking.

Japanese cuisine is all about simplicity so that you can celebrate every ingredient that goes into your dish while bringing out their best flavors. With that in mind, Japanese cooking at its core can be really simple and newbie-cooking friendly!

So what are you waiting for? Write down our list of Japanese kitchen staples so you can get started on these Japanese dishes.

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