I recently created a list of some of the easiest Japanese meals to make at home and now – after great demand (from myself) – I’m back with some more ways for you to improve your repertoire with recipes from the island nation of Japan. Without any delays, let’s dive in, shall we?
Alongside rice, miso soup is one of the staples of Japanese cuisines, often accompanying or playing a role in most meals. Miso soup is composed of thinly sliced ingredients that are simmered in the traditional Japanese base of dashi, and then mixed with miso paste. The result is a thin broth which is flavourful and warming. Some more bulk can be added to the soup with sliced cubes of tofu. Quick to make and tasty to eat, this soup is a must for any Japanese style meal.
Originating in China as jiaozi, gyoza are probably one of my favourite pieces of any Japanese meal. These steamed dumplings can be filled with vegetables or meat and, while small, they can pack a real flavourful punch. You can typically buy ready-made frozen gyōza skins, so you don’t have to worry about making them yourself, and the process of filling them is easy once you get a hang of the technique.
Gyōza only take about 5 minutes to cook and can be enjoyed as a snack or small meal. You can eat them with a variety of dipping sauces, but my personal favourite is a light white vinegar with a small amount of fresh sliced chilli – believe me, it is an amazing taste that you won’t soon forget.
Another import from China that the Japanese have made their own, ramen is an extremely popular dish both in Japan and further afield. I’m not talking about the instant ramen variety which can be found in most student’s cupboards, but rather the real thing. Ramen is a noodle dish with a strong emphasis placed on the quality of its broth.
There are two main varieties of ramen, each with different broth priorities (dark and flavourful or light and delicate), but the typical meal of ramen is topped with sliced vegetables, meat and an egg cracked into the boiling broth. Like the nabemono dish that I mentioned last time, ramen is a simple meal to prepare, but that doesn’t mean that it skimps on flavour.
And there we go. A few simple Japanese meals to get you started on a new chapter in your culinary journey. I’d recommend starting with these basics and then you’ll find that expanding to more complex dishes will be much more approachable. Have fun and I’m sure you’ll be saying itadakimasu and gochiso sama deshita before and after your meals in no time at all.