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20 Japanese Recipes That’ll Add Some Asian Flair to Your Life

If you hear “Japanese food” and think of just sushi and sashimi, these 20 Japanese recipes will introduce you to a flavorful new food culture.

Our conception of Japanese food is often limited to what we see being chopped at the sushi bar or tossed around on the hibachi grill.

But this Asian cuisine has so much more to offer adventurous palates, and these 20 Japanese recipes can be your gateway.

We’ll start with nagoya tebasaki–a popular Japanese fried chicken–before moving on to dishes like oysters donburi and agedashi tofu.

By the time you’re done with the fun, new recipes listed here, you’ll be ready to say “arigatou gozaimasu” for this great introduction to worldwide flavors.

Enjoy!

 

Nagoya Tebasaki (Japanese Fried Chicken)

Serves 8

If what you’re after is authentic Japanese food that’ll stick to your ribs, there’s a treasure trove of recipes in Japanese Soul Cooking by Tadashi Ono.

Try these Japanese chicken wings, for example, which benefit from a handful of Asian flavors including soy sauce, miso, sake, and tobanjan – a spicy fermented red bean paste you can find in specialty stores (or on Amazon). The cookbook will also show you how to make various types of curry, tempura, gyoza, and more.

Nutrition Facts (Per Serving)

406

Calories

38 g

Protein

13 g

Carbs

21 g

Fat

Ingredients

2 1/4 lb. chicken wings

Salt and freshly ground black pepper

1 tsp. tobanjan (chili bean sauce)

2 tsp. grated garlic

2 Tbsp. granulated sugar

2 Tbsp. red miso

2 Tbsp. soy sauce

1/4 cup sake

1/4 cup mirin

Vegetable oil, for frying

1/4 cup katakuriko (potato starch)

2 Tbsp. sesame seeds, for garnish

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Teriyaki Salmon Buns

Serves 4

Once you’ve mastered how to make a basic yeast dough, you can do more than baking. Try your hand at making steamed buns, the perfect filling for succulent meat and tender fish.

As salmon bakes in the oven, get a steamer going on the stove. The bun dough is laid out on parchment paper and then gently placed on the steamer. It takes less than ten minutes for them to get perfectly soft and puffy.

Nutrition Facts (Per Serving)

367

Calories

22 g

Protein

53 g

Carbs

9 g

Fat

Ingredients

Salmon:

2 Tbsp. tamari

2 Tbsp. mirin

2 Tbsp. honey

1 red chili, sliced

2 salmon fillets (about 5 1/2 oz. each)

Steamed Buns:

1 1/4 cups all-purpose flour

1 Tbsp. skim milk powder

1 1/2 Tbsp. superfine sugar

1 scant tsp. fast-action yeast

1 tsp. baking powder

Pinch of sea salt

1/3 cup warm water

1 Tbsp. vegetable oil

Filling:

Handful of fresh cilantro

1 lime, quartered

1 small cucumber, cut into thin rounds

4 spring onions, thinly sliced

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Somen Noodle Salad with Snap Peas & Radish

Serves 2

This Japanese noodle dish, served cold, is perfect for spring and early summer. It features radishes, which aren’t exactly sought out in the United States, but are a staple of Japanese cuisine.

Originally from the Mediterranean coast, radishes have been cultivated in Asia for over a millennia – and for good reason. One of the most nutritious root vegetables, radishes offer a lot of vitamin C and minerals with hardly any calories.

The noodle salad is served with a dashi soup as the dressing, but it’s ok to leave out the bonito and dashi if you make it with broth instead.

Nutrition Facts (Per Serving)

385

Calories

20 g

Protein

67 g

Carbs

5 g

Fat

Ingredients

Noodle Salad:

3 oz. somen (thin wheat) noodles

5 medium radishes

1 cup peas

2 Tbsp. sesame seeds

1 tsp. wasabi (optional)

Dashi Soup:

1 cup bonito flakes

1 sheet seaweed

1 bag dashi powder

2 dried shiitake

4 cups water

1/2 cup light soy sauce

2 Tbsp. mirin (or sugar)

Pinch of salt

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Sunomono (Japanese Cucumber Salad)

Serves 1

This salad is versatile, not just in terms of what it can be served with. Depending on how much prep work you want to do, it can be a simple side dish with diced cucumber, or an elegant starter course for a special dinner.

A mandolin slicer will make quick work of slicing the vegetables paper thin, and then you just have to artfully arrange them on a plate.

Nutrition Facts (Per Serving)

59

Calories

1 g

Protein

9 g

Carbs

1 g

Fat

Ingredients

1 cucumber

1/4 tsp. sea salt

3 Tbsp. rice vinegar

1 Tbsp. mirin (or sugar)

1/4 tsp. shoyu (soy sauce)

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Soba Noodle Salad with Miso-Roasted Asparagus

Serves 6

Instead of using a base of lettuce, Japanese salads tend to use cabbage or pickled vegetables – unless you go with noodles, that is.

And there’s a vast variety to choose from in Asian cuisine, including rice noodles, egg noodles, and soba noodles made from buckwheat. They’re perfect for pasta salad because they don’t get soggy or too soft, and soba noodles will hold up in the fridge for several days.

Nutrition Facts (Per Serving)

364

Calories

10 g

Protein

42 g

Carbs

20 g

Fat

Ingredients

1/4 cup raw sunflower seeds

3 Tbsp. black sesame seeds

8 oz. soba noodles

2 Tbsp. red miso

1 Tbsp. hot water

1 Tbsp. sesame oil

6 Tbsp. extra-virgin olive oil, divided

2 Tbsp. low-sodium soy sauce

1 Tbsp. brown sugar

2 tsp. minced fresh ginger

1/2 lb. fresh shiitake mushrooms, stemmed and thinly sliced

1 lb. asparagus, tough ends trimmed

2 cloves garlic, minced

3 green onions, thinly sliced

Salt to taste

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Japanese Pork & Ramen Soup

Serves 8

Cooking Japanese food doesn’t necessarily require a trip to a specialty store. In a pinch, you can substitute white miso for tahini (sesame seed paste).

This Japanese ramen recipe isn’t just accessible because of the ingredients; the assembly also makes it beginner friendly. For more easy meals to fit into your meal plan, check out The Make-Ahead Cook by America’s Test Kitchen.

Nutrition Facts (Per Serving)

315

Calories

23 g

Protein

22 g

Carbs

15 g

Fat

Ingredients

2 onions, diced

6 cloves garlic, minced

3 Tbsp. grated ginger

1 Tbsp. vegetable oil

8 cups low-sodium chicken broth

12 oz. shiitake mushrooms, stemmed and thinly sliced

1 1/2 lb. boneless country-style pork ribs

Salt and freshly ground black pepper

2 blocks ramen noodles, seasoning packets discarded

6 cups baby spinach

2 Tbsp. white miso

2 Tbsp. soy sauce

1 Tbsp. mirin (optional)

1 tsp. sesame oil

2 green onions, thinly sliced

1 Tbsp. sesame seeds

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Quick Japanese Soup with Sardines

Serves 2

Japanese soups are not just uniquely flavorful, but are also among some of the most nutritious.

This variety not only has cabbage – a soup staple worldwide – but adds sardines for protein. They’re also rich in omega-3 fatty acids, and like most varieties of fish, they contain no carbohydrates. So you can choose to add noodles or grains, but if not, you’re only getting carbs from the carrots, zucchini, and cabbage.

Nutrition Facts (Per Serving)

306

Calories

32 g

Protein

25 g

Carbs

10 g

Fat

Ingredients

2 quarts water

3 small carrots

1 large onion

2 cans (3.75 oz.) sardines packed in brine

2 cups Napa cabbage chunks

1 medium zucchini

1/2 cup soy sauce

Green onion, for garnish

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Albacore Tuna Poke

Serves 4

East meets West Coast in this Japanese fish dish. Similar to ceviche, the high-quality fish is quickly “cooked” by being tossed with citrus.

Albacore tuna is cut into bite-sized pieces and put into a bowl with avocado cubes, jalapeno slices, and macadamia nuts. Whisk together orange juice, soy sauce, and sesame oil to drizzle over the top. Gently toss it all together, and serve with rice.

Nutrition Facts (Per Serving)

408

Calories

25 g

Protein

9 g

Carbs

31 g

Fat

Ingredients

3/4 lb. albacore tuna loin medallions

1 avocado, cubed

3 green onions

1 jalapeno, thinly sliced

1/4 cup macadamia nuts, finely chopped

2 Tbsp. sesame seeds

2 Tbsp. soy sauce

2 Tbsp. sesame oil

2 Tbsp. orange juice

1/4 tsp. red pepper flakes

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Bento Chicken & Vegetables

Serves 4 / Makes about 3 1/2 cups

It’s not hard to get your daily fill of veggies when the farmers’ market is full of fresh, local produce. But what about the winter months, when it seems like all the markets are closed?

That’s when you’ll want to keep a good supply of root vegetables on hand. These bento veggies are healthy and versatile, so you can eat them with plain rice or toss them into another recipe like tamagoyaki.

Nutrition Facts (Per Serving)

152

Calories

11 g

Protein

22 g

Carbs

2 g

Fat

Ingredients

5 dried shiitake mushrooms, soaked

1 medium carrot

1 medium parsnip (or 6” piece of burdock root)

4 oz. boneless skinless chicken thigh (or fried bean curd)

1 3/4 cups mushroom soaking liquid (or dashi)

1 Tbsp. sake

1/2 Tbsp. granulated sugar

1 1/2 Tbsp. soy sauce

1/4 tsp. salt

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Inari Sushi Recipe0

Serves 2

When it comes to sushi, Americans tend to think of just a few options like spicy tuna and clear adaptations like the California roll. But there are actually five basic kinds of sushi, and the sushi rolls most common outside of Japan are all of the maki variety.

Inari sushi is more like a fritter. The sushi rice is stuffed into a fried tofu pocket called aburaage (which you can either make or buy in Asian groceries) and then served with wasabi and soy sauce. It can also be topped with a quick mixture of canned tuna.

Nutrition Facts (Per Serving)

620

Calories

37 g

Protein

75 g

Carbs

19 g

Fat

Ingredients

Aburaage:

6 prepared aburaage

1 1/2 cups water

3 Tbsp. shoyu

3 Tbsp. granulated sugar

Sushi Rice:

1 cup short-grain rice

3 Tbsp. rice vinegar

2 Tbsp. granulated sugar

1/2 tsp. salt

Tuna:

1 can (6.5 oz.) tuna flakes in brine

2 Tbsp. mayonnaise

Freshly ground black pepper to taste

1/2 small onion, diced

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Japanese Curry

Serves 8

Japanese curry is surprisingly similar to American  stew. It’s also cooked in a heavy-bottomed stockpot, but the seasonings are different. However, the seasonings make this stew even more flavorful.

It’s thickened with a curry-spiced roux, and the beef also simmers with star anise, bay leaf, and garam masala. Aside from that, you’ll still find a familiar bowl of potatoes, tomatoes, carrots, and tender stewed meat. The recipe uses chicken breast, but you could easily make this beef stew instead.

Nutrition Facts (Per Serving)

484

Calories

38 g

Protein

59 g

Carbs

11 g

Fat

Ingredients

10 cups beef broth

4 boneless skinless chicken breasts (about 6 oz. each)

8 medium carrots, sliced

2 medium onion, diced

6 potatoes, diced

2 Japanese sweet potatoes

6 tomatoes, diced

1 head garlic, minced

2 Tbsp. mango chutney

1/2 tsp. ground ginger

1 Fuji apple, grated

2 Tbsp. Oriental curry powder

3 tsp. soy sauce

4 Tbsp. cornstarch

2 oz. smoked Gouda

2 tsp. buttermilk

Salt to taste

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Easy Japanese Pickled Vegetables

Serves 4

Making your own pickled veggies takes less time – and a lot less work – than you’d think. This recipe is similar to sunomono, the cucumber salad, but it involves much more vinegar. Plus, the veggies have to sit for a couple hours before you dig in, whereas you can eat cucumber salad immediately.

One more difference depends on whether or not you want the pickled veggies to have a bit of bite. If so, add some wasabi paste too.

Nutrition Facts (Per Serving)

119

Calories

2 g

Protein

28 g

Carbs

1 g

Fat

Ingredients

1 English cucumber, sliced

3 carrots, peeled and julienned

1 cup loosely packed Napa cabbage, thinly sliced

1 Tbsp. salt

1 1/2 cups unseasoned rice vinegar

6 Tbsp. instant dissolving sugar

1/4–1/2 tsp. wasabi paste (optional)

2 tsp. sesame seeds, toasted

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Tamagoyaki

Serves 2

The Japanese egg dish similar to omelettes is known as tamago. But after you have the basic Japanese omelette, there are other dishes you can make with it.

Tamago can be wrapped up with sushi rice and nori seaweed for an elegant presentation. Or make a kind of omelette roll, tamagoyaki, to be served as bento or an appetizer.

Nutrition Facts (Per Serving)

186

Calories

10 g

Protein

10 g

Carbs

12 g

Fat

Ingredients

3 large eggs

3 Tbsp. dashi stock

1 1/3 Tbsp. granulated sugar

1 tsp. soy sauce (plus more to taste)

2 pinches of salt

1 small bunch fresh parsley leaves

1 daikon radish, grated

1 leaf shiso (or mint)

2 tsp. extra-virgin olive oil

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Oyster Donburi

Serves 1

In restaurants, Japanese rice is usually plain, sticky, and often served on the side. The only choice is whether you want white or brown rice.

But in Japan, rice bowls come in countless varieties with additions like egg, shredded seaweed, and even oysters. This recipe starts like many oyster recipes, with a pot of boiling water. But they’re only blanched for 10 seconds before getting cooked in a saucepan.

Nutrition Facts (Per Serving)

566

Calories

26 g

Protein

86 g

Carbs

13 g

Fat

Ingredients

6 Japanese oysters, thawed if frozen

Pinch of salt

1/2 tsp. dashi powder

1/3 cup + 1 Tbsp. water

1 tsp. light soy sauce

1 tsp. mirin

1/2 onion, thinly sliced

1 tsp. ginger juice

2 small eggs, lightly beaten

1/2 cup cooked brown rice

Chili powder to taste

Handful of shredded seaweed

1/2 Tbsp. chopped spring onions

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Japanese Curry Fried Rice

Serves 3

Japanese fried rice isn’t like the kind you order with Chinese take-out – but it’s pretty close.

There are still eggs and vegetables, and you can pick any kind of protein you like. This recipe is about the easiest stir fry there is, especially if you have leftover rice. It doesn’t even require soy sauce or other Asian condiments like mirin. All you need to season this one-pan dinner is a little curry powder and salt.

Nutrition Facts (Per Serving)

591

Calories

18 g

Protein

83 g

Carbs

20 g

Fat

Ingredients

3 cups dry cooked rice, room temp.

3 Tbsp. canola oil, divided

2 large eggs, lightly beaten

1 clove garlic, minced

1/2 cup (4 oz.) chopped extra-firm tofu (or leftover cooked meat)

1 cup leftover cooked vegetables, chopped

Curry powder and salt to taste

1 Tbsp. red pickled ginger (optional)

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Agedashi Tofu

Serves 3

Japanese tofu dishes come in all shapes and sizes, but one of the most beloved – and most enjoyable for the tofu wary – is this appetizer.

Of course any ingredient tastes great when it’s lightly coated in flour and deep fried to a crisp. Meanwhile the inside becomes creamy and soft, so the texture of tofu that’s off-putting for some won’t be a problem with this preparation.

Nutrition Facts (Per Serving)

243

Calories

11 g

Protein

22 g

Carbs

13 g

Fat

Ingredients

1 block (14 oz.) silken tofu

4 Tbsp. potato starch (or corn starch)

Vegetable oil, for frying

1 cup dashi

2 Tbsp. soy sauce

2 Tbsp. mirin

1” daikon radish

1 green onion

Handful of bonito flakes

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Stir-Fried Eggplant with Ginger & Miso

Serves 4

It doesn’t take much to transform eggplant into a tasty side dish or light lunch. Dried chilies infuse the oil with flavor, and miso and sake are combined to make a simple stir fry sauce.

Try to find Japanese eggplant – the long skinny kind – because they have a slightly softer texture than the large, dark purple variety. Or if it’s summer, look for the smaller sized fairy tale eggplant in farmers’ markets.

Nutrition Facts (Per Serving)

241

Calories

2 g

Protein

11 g

Carbs

21 g

Fat

Ingredients

2 Tbsp. miso

1 1/2 tsp. sake

1 lb. Japanese eggplants

6 Tbsp. sesame oil

2 dried red chili peppers

1 Tbsp. fresh ginger, peeled and sliced

1 Tbsp. finely sliced shiso leaves (or Thai basil)

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Green Tea Dorayaki

Serves 6

Japanese matcha powder is a quick way to add the flavor of green tea to anything like puddingprotein shakes, and cookies.

For an authentic matcha dessert, make these dorayaki, like a pancake sandwich with jam in the middle. Forget that the filling is sweetened red beans, and just take a bite because this Japanese dessert will satisfy cravings you didn’t even know you had. Of course, you could use other fillings like creamy matcha icing.

Nutrition Facts (Per Serving)

253

Calories

6 g

Protein

54 g

Carbs

2 g

Fat

Ingredients

2 large eggs

1/2 cup granulated sugar

1/2 tsp. baking soda

1/4 cup water

1 Tbsp. pure honey

1 cup flour

1 tsp. matcha powder

8 oz. sweet red bean paste

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Manju (Japanese Pastries)

Serves 8

Lima bean pastries may not sound appetizing, and yet beans of various types are regularly used as filling for Asian desserts. Once you get over how weird it sounds, you’ll quickly learn to enjoy sweetened beans in desserts.

After all, peanuts are legumes, lima beans are legumes – what’s the harm in trying it out? Lima beans, AKA butter beans, are loaded with almost as much fiber as protein. They also have tons of micronutrients like molybdenum, which helps your body break down amino acids.

Nutrition Facts (Per Serving)

154

Calories

4 g

Protein

31 g

Carbs

2 g

Fat

Ingredients

Bean Filling:

1 cup lima beans, soaked overnight

1/2 cup granulated sugar

1/4 tsp. salt

1 tsp. vanilla extract

Dough:

3/4 cup flour

1 large egg

1/4 tsp. salt

1/4 cup sweetened condensed milk

1 tsp. vanilla extract

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Baked Tonkatsu Pork

Serves 2

Just like with American fried chicken, there are healthy alternatives to Japanese tonkatsu.

Instead of deep-frying the pork (or chicken), this recipe bakes the meat for 15 minutes. To ensure the coating is really crispy, it’s toasted in a frying pan before being used as breading. The included sauce is quick to make, but the tonkatsu pork will still taste awesome if all you have is barbecue sauce.

Nutrition Facts (Per Serving)

586

Calories

56 g

Protein

52 g

Carbs

15 g

Fat

Ingredients

Tonkatsu:

2 cutlets pork (about 6 oz. each)

Salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste

1 large egg

2 Tbsp. flour

1 cup panko bread crumbs

1 tsp. extra-virgin olive oil

Sauce:

3 Tbsp. Worcestershire sauce

1 Tbsp. ketchup

1 tsp. mayonnaise

1 tsp. ground white sesame seeds

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