5 Easy Japanese Recipes to Cook At Home

Saba Misoni 6

Do you enjoy Japanese food?  Do you think about making Japanese dishes at home but not familiar with Japanese ingredients?  Today I want to answer some of the questions that you might have regarding Japanese food.  I have been contributing my recipes at The Daily Meal this year and recently, I was interviewed by the editor about Japanese cuisine.  You can read the full article here or you can continue reading on my post (2 pages today).

For someone who is new to Japanese cuisine, what five recipes would you suggest cooking?

Since this is for someone new to Japanese food, I picked 5 dishes that are popular and fairly easy to cook.

Teriyaki Chicken is one of the most popular Japanese dishes in the US.  Ready made “Teriyaki Sauce” is usually available in nearby supermarkets.  Interestingly, Teriyaki is actually a cooking technique, not the name of the sauce: teri means “luster” given by the sweet soy sauce marinade and yaki means “grilling”.  The Japanese cooks all kinds of meat, seafood, and vegetables with this cooking method.  Since the taste is sweet and savory, they are usually a hit with children as well.

Chicken Teriyaki

Gyoza was derived from Chinese pot stickers but the skin is thinner and usually smaller in size.  Nowadays you can buy packages of frozen gyoza from supermarkets, but it’s actually more fun to make your own with family and friends.  Also, it can be pretty versatile as you can put your leftover ingredients from the fridge or you can make just veggies only (usually it has pork in it).  For snack or appetizer, you can use leftover Gyoza skins to make cheese wraps as well.


California Roll is probably one of the most well-known sushi rolls served in Japanese restaurants around the world.  The ingredients are easy to find since you just need crab meat (real or artificial), Japanese mayo, dried seaweed, and sushi rice.  Sushi rolls (makimono) are fairly easy to make and it can be a great finger food as an appetizer or party food.

California Roll III

Donburi (rice bowl dish) is an economical, fulfilling, and quick & easy meal.  It is my go-to menu when I don’t have much time to prepare full meal for my family.  Most common donburi include Gyudon (beef donburi), Oyakodon (chicken & egg donburi), Katsudon (deep-fried cutlet & egg donburi), Unadon (grilled eel donburi), and more.

Chicken Katsu Don

Lastly, when you serve a bowl of rice in Japan, you must accompany it with Miso Soup.  Here in the US, Japanese restaurants serve miso soup at the beginning of meal, but in Japan it’s usually served with the meal.  Miso soup in theUS only contains green onion and a few pieces tofu or seaweed, but inJapan there are a variety of miso soup with different kinds of miso and ingredients (pork, clam, seafood).

Tofu Miso Soup

(Click Page 2 below to continue reading! :-))

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  1. I love Japanese foods! I’m so glad you put this post up. Funny, I restocked on Miso just this past weekend! (Fully stocked in everything else you mentioned except for dashi stock..) ^_^

  2. Ira Rodrigues

    Do you know what, I always ready in hand the Miso soup paste, whenever i want it I just simply make it at home, my son loves it so much and he could drink the soup by his own

  3. Hi Nami, I love all the things you’ve mentioned… though you know I *still* haven’t made my own miso soup, lol! I’m surprised you didn’t mention okonomiyaki. If someone wasn’t familiar with cooking Japanese food I think I’d always recommend this dish to them because it’s so delicious and hearty and quite easy to make, as well as being really easy to customise!

  4. Wonderful post Nami!!! I just love your photography so much that I just keep staring at your pictures. I just loved that miso soup. I want to try a veggie version of that :)

  5. Eha

    Love this particular post ’cause it has allowed me to catch up with some recipes you had published before I ‘found’ you :) ! Also absolutely love four of the five dishes you have presented. Could not live without the wonderfully healthy miso soup, make donburi dishes often, chicken teriyaki is one the menu regularly [of course with homemade sauce :) ! ] and making beautiful gyoza is absolutely therapeutic! The only dish I have never heard of is your California roll!! Love sushi, but [and artificial crab . . . well 😉 !] . . . .

  6. starmonkey3

    Gyozas! One of my all time favorites! When I was little I’d find my mom sitting at the kitchen table make a ton of them! Now..I just buy the frozen ones. :( Maybe one day I’ll get around to making them from scratch.

  7. I love Japanese food but don’t cook enough of it at home. Love all your suggestions. I need to take some time and work on my Japanese cuisine because my children enjoy it so much too.
    Your site is a great place to start so thanks for all your hard work!

    All of your dishes are always amazing.

  8. Wow! You just made cooking easier for me in many more ways than just five ! Thanks for sharing this helpful info, Nami! You’re a great resource for Japanese cooking. I’m going to forward this info to my sons who love to cook on their own.

  9. Congrats on the feature, dear! Love your easy recipes & food presentation. I like everything here except Gyoza. Somehow, I just haven’t taken a fancy till now :< Maybe I need more convincing. Hahaha! U're super awesome!

  10. What an informative post! I love all the dishes listed here, especially the gyoza and teriyaki chicken, will try them when I have the time:) THanks for sharing!

  11. Gorgeous presentation of five amazing dishes. I would probably only manage to make a couple or three at one time at most and still haven’t gotten around to gyoza even though I love them. Maybe one day.

    My first and only purchase of drinking sake was given away to my dad as it was a bit too raw tasting (alcohol) for me to manage so I’ll have to invest in another one for cooking one of these days.

    What dashi packets would you recommend? I don’t think I’ve seen any on offer though the Ajinomoto Hon-dashi is usually available.

  12. Thoroughly enjoyed reading this post! And now I need to try it out myself :) I love Japanese food but I have never cooked it at home! This post really makes me wanna give it a try at home.

  13. Candice

    Mmmm..yum! time to cook some Japanese food ..or better yet, I’ll come over to your house for dinner, Nami. ^_^

  14. What a terrific post, Nami – thank you for sharing! I would like to cook more Japanese food at home and I appreciate your recipes and tips. Your photos are stunning, too.

  15. Nami, I had no idea you were contributing to Daily Meal! Congratulations! I have heard about this website but have never been there. I will visit it more often now 😉
    Your choice of the 5 dishes is excellent! You know, I love both oyakodon and tonkatsu and have been planning to make the katsudon for such a long time. Thank you for reminding me! (You know, for us Europeans it seems and extremely decadent, a bit like the potato salad sandwich!)

  16. It was wonderful reading your interview over at TMD – and I have actually have 4 of the six ingredients you recommended to make Japanese food in my pantry (although I have you to thank for that!) – and I loved learned about these 5 easy recipes. I already know I enjoy teriyaki chicken and California Rolls and I’m sure I’d love gyoza, donburi and miso soup…

  17. I copied your teriyaki recipe eons ago…so thanks for reminding me! It’s a must try…so gorgeous! And of course there you have your cute little carrot garnish…I must get some little cutters like yours…you have a knack of making food so appealing! Have a lovely weekend, my friend!

  18. Nami: brilliant and essential post! I am completely bookmarking this one (and even printing it for my kitchen drawer). I think Japanese home-cooked food is so healthy, tasty, and must be more famous than it is. I learned something new: Donburi. While I know of the dishes described in this categories, I did not know there was a name for all of them.

  19. oh you can bet i just bookmarked this and wrote them down on my to do sticky list on my computer! what a great and perfect post for all us food bloggers and those who don’t cook japanese as much as we might want to! great!

  20. Oh Darlin – thank you for this post!!! I remember your rice bowls and am determined to make at least one of them if not all of them. Your sushi is always SO beautiful and I really should give it a try since I was given a sushi making kit last year. It’s still in the box. :) All of these recipes are fabulous. Thanks for digging them up and reminding us how easy Japanese cooking it.

  21. We’ve made 4 out of the 5! The only one we haven’t made is the gyoza. Those sound good too! Congrats on the interview. And I still have the unagi in my freezer to make the unagi don. We haven’t forgotten…it’s been one crazy summer so far. :)

  22. I honestly crave a Japanese home-made meal (I’d like to cook it for my boyfriend, who believes that Japanese cuisine means only sushi/sashimi.. jerk :P).. I save this post right away, so I’ll have it right there when I’ll decide to finally make my Japanese dinner! :)

  23. Hey Nami!! This is such a helpful blog post!! So much to learn from you!! Yeah! I’ve been searching for some of the ingredients but I guess I’ll try harder! Can’t wait to start making your dishes!! I looooooove Japanese food and am excited about making my own! Every time I think of Japanese food, your blog comes to my mind right away! haha

  24. Hi Nami, chicken teriyaki was the first Japanese dish I was introduced to and it’s still my favourite. And the soup was the second! What wonderful dishes you have in this list Nami xx

  25. Last time I know very little on how to cooking Japanese food , usually via Taiwan TV show only. I am so glad to find you who sharing easy and yummy home cooked Japanese foods. Thank you very much for your kind sharing.

  26. I love all these dishes! They seem to be do-able at home for a non-professional like me! Plus, they’re delicious! I enjoy eating all kinds of donburi, so I think that is on top of my list! Nami, you always bring inspiration to the plate and to my computer screen! I haven’t even been thinking of Japanese food today until I saw your post! Now I am definitely having a craving…

  27. I have tried few Japanese dishes and loved them all ,though california roll and chicken teriyaki are best so far for me. I also liked your quick way to make Dashi.
    You have given a lot of information in this post. thanks! and Have a wonderful weekend!

  28. Considering I specialized in exotic dishes I am ashamed to say I do not have many Japanese ones (4 I think). Got to change that. But I do not fear complicated stuff. I do implore you for encouraging the less brave with simpler recipes to get them to experiment. Great choices!

  29. You have a perfect list of five delicious dishes! My hubby would go crazy for the teriyaki chicken:-) Me on the other hand, I would like a few of the gyoza please:-) Hugs, Terra

  30. Awesome write up! You’re so cool :) I’m glad the food world is learning to reach out to you for brilliant, easy and delicious Japanese cuisine.

    I remember that chicken katsu don. I’m drooling just as much now as I did when you first posted it…so good.

  31. Really good post. Although I enjoy eating Japanese food, I cook very little of it. Of course part of the reason that I just haven’t gotten into the habit – it’s not intuitive the way Indian or even Chinese have become for me (by intuitive I mean I can look in my vegetable crisper and pantry, and put together a meal without a recipe using the flavorings I crave). It’s not going to happen in the next few months – too many other things to cook – but next year I really need to buckle down and learn Japanese cooking. Your blog is great and your recipes are so clear I doubt if I’d need another source, but are there a couple of cookbooks that you’d recommend? It’s useful having cookbooks as references sometimes. Thanks for a great post.

  32. I do love Japanese food and I can eat it all day specially that California roll, I always love that photo and might be asking you soon a full res photo of that so I can print it and hang on my Kitchen (with your permission of course)

  33. Dear Namiko,

    The I love gyoza and sushi rolls especially when there is tobiko and salmon roe . That bowl of miso soup would work wonders in this cold winter weather here. I usually add silken tofu, tofu puff slices and seaweed – such a simple and heart-warming soup!

  34. What fabulous dishes. The one that caught my eye immediately for its simplicity was the Teriyaki chicken. I know I can buy the sauce in the supermarket but I would love to make it myself. Is it possible to substitute something for the sake and mirin or should I seek them out?

    • Hi Suzanne,

      If you are not planning to make many Japanese dishes, then you can substitute sake with dry sherry, and mirin with sake & white sugar (3:1).

      Both mirin and sake are one of the most important and frequently used ingredients along with soy sauce. If you see Japanese recipes, soy sauce, mirin, sake are always on the list. :-)

  35. Hi Nami! I am not new to Japanese food but rarely prepare it at home;-( Out of all of these wonderfully delicious dishes, I think I’ve made the chicken teriyaki, I need to do a better job than that! But I did enjoy a great meal at a Japanese restaurant over the weekend and also had sushi last week, thank goodness for the Japanese restaurants..or I would be in trouble,he he;-)

  36. Those have to be the prettiest California rolls I’ve ever seen! Great informative post and I do love cooking Japanese food at home too! :)

  37. Hi Nami,
    Congrats on your interview, I’ll stop by afterwards. This is such a great post. I love Japanese food but know so little about it. That is why enjoy your blog so much. Your guide is a great place to start. Thanks for sharing:)

  38. Oh, I’d go for the teriyaki chicken and of course, the sushi! You have a lovely collection of assorted Japanese recipes and I appreciate the meticulousness with which you do every post. Congrats on being one of Babble’s Top 100 food bloggers! :)
    Hats off to you, managing motherhood responsibilities and blogging so creatively, together!

  39. What great post Nami :)
    I still remember cooking from your katsudon recipe! Delicious!
    My sister stumbled upon your blog the other day and asked me if i knew about it 😀 she’s now a big fan too like me 😀

  40. Lucas @ CoverVersion.tv

    Gyoza, like ravioli, just seem so fiddly to make, I always worry that I’d botch it terribly. I am, however, stealing your Gyudon recipe.