Japanese cuisine: 5 recipes to get started

Wasabi, nori, matcha, miso, it’s the land of the Rising Sun that we’re talking about. The country’s cuisine is renowned for being balanced and healthy. We use a lot of fresh produce, especially for sushi. On the Land side, Japanese cuisine offers meat lovers Kobe beef, considered to be the jewel of Japanese gastronomy. Widespread in France, some even call it “beef caviar”. We also find in this culture the famous takoyaki: dough balls made from octopus and bonito cooked like waffles. They are eaten like popcorn: once you start you can’t stop. Do you also know okonomiyaki omelettes? It is a kind of savory pancake made from wheat flour dough, egg and dashi, garnished with turkey, pork, shrimp, cheese, vegetables… It is then cooked on a hot plate called “teppan” before being eaten hot. These Japanese dishes are not as difficult to make as they seem. We reveal 5 Japanese recipes to make with 5 basic ingredients to have when you want to try Japanese cuisine.

With rice …

When you think of Japanese cuisine, the first thing you think of is rice. It is the basis of the recipes and the main accompaniment. For the record, rice is literally synonymous with meal in Japanese. To mean “cooked rice” we say “gohan” in Japanese, which also means “meal”. In sushi or ochazuke, what is essential is to rinse the rice in water until it is perfectly clear. As for the quantity of water, it is not the same as with basic white rice. There are 3 volumes of rice (3 glasses for example) for a little less than 3 volumes of water (i.e. the volume of 2.5 glasses). Cook in a rice cooker or pour the rice into boiling water. Lower the heat and cook until the water has completely evaporated. Leave to rest for 10 to 15 minutes. And we finish by covering the rice, for at least two hours, using a damp cloth in order to obtain sticky rice.

We make a Japanese ochazuke

Today we invite you to make a very simple recipe called “ochazuke”. For 4 people, you will need 200 g of Japanese round rice, 80 cl of green tea, 4 steaks of raw salmon, 1 teaspoon of salmon roe and nori seaweed. Cook 200 g of Japanese round rice. Divide among four bowls. Prepare 80 cl of green tea. Cut 4 pieces of raw salmon into thin slices, spread them over the warm rice. Drizzle with hot tea, garnish with 1 teaspoon salmon roe and cut nori seaweed. Serve and enjoy. It feels like we’re in Japan.

© Edouard Sicot

With nori seaweed…

Dried then toasted, nori transformed into sheets is an essential ingredient in Japanese cuisine. It is this algae which hesitates between green and black and which surrounds our makis and California rolls which we can no longer do without. In addition to being good, it’s healthy. For a sheet of seaweed, count only 7 calories. Nori is rich in minerals, vitamins and proteins. Each side of the leaf does not have the same use: the smooth and shiny side is shown, the matt and rough side is kept hidden under the garnish (rice, fish, etc.). Little tip: to cut it, use a pair of scissors and not a knife which could tear them.

We make onigiri

For a simple recipe straight from Japan, we share the onigiris recipe with you. For the ingredients, you will need 200 g of sushi rice, 4 cl of rice vinegar, 10 g of powdered sugar, 1 steak of salmon, 2 tablespoons of kimchi, mayonnaise, sriracha sauce, 4 leaves of nori and soy sauce. We cook the rice and the salmon steak. In a bowl, mix the flaked salmon (without the skin), kimchi, mayonnaise and sriracha sauce, add salt. Spread the rice in a dish and mix with the rice vinegar. Let cool until the rice can be handled with your hands. We move on to the most important step: training our onigiris. Take enough rice to fill the palm of your hand, press in the center to form a hollow. Place a little salmon stuffing in the hollow, then fold the rice over the stuffing. Press with the palm of your other hand to form a triangle, then press to pack. Turn in your hands and repeat the pressure to keep the triangular shape. Cut the nori sheets into squares approximately 5 cm wide, place a square on each onigiri. Enjoy them plain or with soy sauce and a little kimchi.


© Emanuela Cino

With raw fish…

In Japan, we eat a lot of raw fish. It’s hard not to think of chirashi and sushi. Raw food eaters appreciate it for the taste of raw fish but also because it is richer in vitamins, enzymes and antioxidants. We love sushi! But the problem is that in restaurants it remains quite expensive. Making sushi at home is child’s play, you just need to get the hang of it. The most important thing is to make sure you have fresh fish and eat it the same day.

We make original sushi

We invite you to discover a recipe for temari sushi. These are a kind of sushi but more rounded in shape. To make these nuggets, you will need a few ultra-fresh fish fillets of your choice (salmon, sea bream or tuna), wasabi, grated ginger, 400 g of Japanese rice, 3 cl of rice vinegar, and 20 g of sugar . These are portions for 2 people.

We cook the vinegared rice, we cut the fish into very thin strips and we lightly crush the fillets with the flat of a knife. The trick is to place a slice of fish on a sheet of plastic wrap, roll a ball of rice, stick a bit of wasabi or grated ginger on the rice, and place it in the center of the fish. Close the sides of the plastic wrap and rotate the ball to compress the sushi. Unwrap and arrange on a plate. Repeat the process with other ingredients like avocado or omelette and you’ll master the art of Japanese cooking in no time.

Temari sushi

© Hans Meijer / The Social Food

With soy sauce…

The soy sauce is like our icing on the cake. It enhances our sushi which, without it, would not be the same, but it is also used in many preparations such as noodles or the famous yakitori skewers. Are you more of a sweet or savory soy sauce type? No matter the sauce will be perfect cooked in wok-style sautéed vegetables.

We make beef and cheese skewers

It’s a dish you’ll find in most French Japanese restaurants, but it’s not very common in Japan. It’s an easy recipe to make and one that everyone will agree on at aperitif time or as a starter. You have to eat them right away so that the cheese is really melty. For 6 people, you will simply need 24 slices of beef carpaccio (approximately 250 g), 250 g of Emmental cheese, 4 tablespoons of sweet soy sauce and sesame. Start by cutting the cheese into 24 sticks the size of the beef slices. Place them on wooden skewers and wrap slices of meat around them. Place them in a deep dish and sprinkle them with a little soy sauce. Leave them to marinate while you turn on the oven. Bake until the cheese begins to soften. On your skewers…

Japanese-style-emmental-beef skewers

© Valéry Guedes with Sophie Dupuis-Gaulier

With miso…

Miso is a condiment of Japanese origin made from fermented soy paste and rich, among other things, in proteins, fiber, vitamin C and antioxidants. Many Japanese people drink miso soup when they wake up. We find shiro miso, white, sweet, creamy, moderately salty and perfect for getting started. It is used in many marinades, sauces or vegetable dishes for example.

We make a soup

It is especially famous for its soup, a traditional Japanese recipe. We revisited it with spider crab but we still have this traditional miso soup base. Provide 1 spider crab, 10 g of dried bonito, 3 tablespoons of soy sauce, 4 tablespoons of white miso, 3 spinach stalks, 40 g of spring onions, 2L of mineral water and 10 g of dried wakame . Start by peeling the spider crab, collect the flesh and reserve, as well as the shell. Add the legs and their flesh, dried bonito and soy sauce to the cooking water. Cook over low heat for 10 minutes. Filter the resulting broth into a saucepan and add the white miso. Roughly chop the spinach and the spring onion stems and immerse them in the broth, along with the flesh of the spider crab body and the wakame. Cook for 2 minutes over low heat. Serve in a large soup tureen or in a “donabe” (Japanese pot).


© Shirley Garrier and Matthieu Zouhairi © The Social Food

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