Fresh Ingredients with Plenty of Umami Flavor
Traditional Japanese meals typically consist of rice, miso soup, pickled vegetables, and either fish or meat. Noodles play a significant role as well. As an island nation, Japan prides itself on a variety of seafood, including various types of fish, squid, octopus, eel, and shellfish. Fish is always as fresh as possible. This is especially important because fish is sometimes eaten raw, as with sushi and sashimi. Soy sauce and miso are used frequently to impart full-bodied umami flavor to Japanese food recipes, while soy products such as tofu and natto (fermented soybeans) play a large role nutritionally. Other ingredients such as bamboo shoots, daikon (a type of large white radish), ginger, seaweed, and sesame seed-based products also frequently show up in many Japanese food recipes. Japanese cooks place great emphasis on fresh, local, and seasonal ingredients, and often purchase items the same day they will be cooked. Because of this emphasis on fresh ingredients, Japanese food also tends to be highly regional and therefore quite varied, with preferred dishes and preparations changing depending on the location. Sushi and sashimi are well-known Japanese foods that really say a lot about what Japanese food is all about, because they combine super-fresh ingredients, careful preparation techniques, and the well-known Japanese emphasis on arranging food so that it appears beautiful to the eye. While you can’t become a master sushi chef in an afternoon, you can make delicious Japanese food at home. Not sure where to start? Don’t worry! We’ve rounded up a list of the best Japanese food recipes for you to try. Let’s dive into this fresh and flavorful cuisine!
We couldn’t make a list of the best Japanese food recipes and not include sushi! Sushi chefs go through years of training and practice to perfect their craft into an art form. While you can’t exactly pick up the same level of skill in an afternoon, that doesn’t mean you can’t enjoy some yummy homemade sushi! Making your own sushi at home is cost-effective, fun, and can be a great bonding activity with family or friends. It also allows you to select the exact ingredients you want to use – we recommend selecting fresh ingredients that you can get locally, since Japanese cuisine emphasizes this. Ready to try making your own sushi at home?
It wouldn’t be a list of the best Japanese food recipes without yakitori! Authentic chicken yakitori uses all parts of the bird, but feel free to use just chicken thighs or chicken breasts if you prefer. To make this succulent treat, tender meat is threaded onto skewers and cooked while being basted with a sweet, salty, highly flavorful sauce. Chicken yakitori can be served as a standalone appetizer for your Japanese food feast, but this dish can also be served as a meal alongside some vegetables and rice. Want to try making yakitori at home?
This Japanese dish is a cult classic with fans from all around the world. It combines a warm, flavorful broth with oodles of noodles, meat (usually pork, sometimes chicken), vegetables (think umami-rich mushrooms and delicate spring onions), and a soft-cooked egg. Japanese chefs spend years perfecting the balance of flavors in this dish, but don’t worry - you can absolutely make a delicious version of your own at home! Ready to try out this iconic Japanese food recipe for yourself?
#4 Chicken Katsu
This Japanese chicken cutlet is breaded with panko (Japanese breadcrumbs) and fried to crispy perfection. It’s served with katsu sauce, sometimes called tonkatsu sauce. It’s thick, tart, salty, slightly sweet, and utterly addicting! It pairs perfectly with the succulent fried chicken cutlets. To enjoy your chicken katsu the Japanese way, slice each cutlet into strips diagonally and consume them with chopsticks. We also recommend serving your chicken katsu alongside steamed white rice for an authentic Japanese meal at home. Ready to try your hand at this iconic Japanese dish?
#5 Japanese Curry
Japanese curry is thick, sweet, and unique. The sauce is thickened with a roux (a mixture of flour and butter), which gives it a satisfyingly thick texture. Apple and honey are added to the recipe as “secret ingredients” that give Japanese curry its signature slightly sweet taste. In Japan, it’s common to use a pre-made curry mix, but if you can’t find one near you, don’t worry – you can easily make your own at home! This Japanese recipe is quite versatile, making it ideal for home cooks. You can use the protein of your choice – chicken, beef, pork, seafood, or even tofu can work in this recipe. Plus, the vegetables used to make Japanese curry are easy to find almost anywhere – carrots, potatoes, and onions. This dish is considered a crowd-pleaser in Japan since it is popular with kids and adults alike, so it's a great choice for a family meal. Ready to make your own Japanese curry at home?