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Easy Japanese recipes?

Jan 31, 2018
(not 100% whether this is the right place for this post bc all the other posts seem so serious)

I'm currently in Tokyo as an exchange student (for one year). I arrived one week ago and I'd say I've overcome the initial culture shock for the biggest part & am slowly getting used to living here, but one thing is troubling me: I don't really know what to cook. Even back home in Germany I wasn't much of a passionate cook, but I usually prepared dinner for myself as it was the healthiest&cheapest option. I'd like to do so while I'm here in Japan, too, but I'm feeling a little overwhelmed - I don't have much experience with Japanese dishes, the things in the supermarket are so different from back home and products I'm used to eating are eather quite expensive or not available. I've also been looking for an easy to understand cookbook, but haven't found one so far.
Therefore my question: do you guys have any (easy) japanese recipes you could recommend? Things you eat/ate a lot in Japan? (and maybe some tips on finding cheap fruit? ;w; )
Thanks in advance!
Jun 21, 2017
I don't know about Japanese recipes, but have you considered just making something up? Like one thing you could do is just throw some vegetables together with some kind of meat in a stir-fry or something, then put some kind of sauce on it.


Unswerving cyclist
Mar 14, 2002
1 762
I concur with @Julie.chan. Stir fry veggies with meat or prepare variations of pasta. When I cook lunch for myself it’s again variations of yakisoba or ramen (I love to experiment, lol).

Let me know when you come across cheap fruit! :D

One more thing: this forum is not restricted to serious topics at all. ;)
Apr 4, 2014
If you plan on staying in Japan for some time i suggest you get familiar with local staples. Staples are called so for a reason - they are cheap and nutritious.
1) Try cooking some rice, Japanese way. And even if you weren't a rice fan before - you'll be surprised at how delicious properly cooked rice alone tastes. I'll try to attach a photo of a recipe i learned long time ago and use it up to now.
2) Have you tried tofu? It's very cheap, and is a good source of proteins. Being innately neutral in taste - it goes well with almost any dish. Try steaming/boiling some vegetables, cut tofu in ~1cm cubes, sprinkle everything with soy sauce (few drops wil do if you want to limit daily salt intake) And you got youself a healthy, nutritious, cheap and easy-to-make okazu (the "main" dish. Something that goes in addition to rice)
3) Always have some kombu and nori (seaweeds) at hand to add some iodine and chewiness to your diet. The way i use nori is straight-forward: just tear it into small pieces and scatter it over freshly-cooked hot rice. Kombu is not much more difficult to handle: just cut it into stripes/squares/whichever form you like, submerge into boiling water for a couple of minutes and voila - you can add it to your okazu.
4) Have you ever tried eating (drinking?) raw eggs? While the idea itself may sound a bit gross. There is a popular dish called tamago kake gohan. Just crack-open two-three eggs (you may try one egg if you don't eat as much as i do, or if the egg is big) and stir them into rice with a few drops of soy sauce. Enjoy with slices of nori.

There are many more simple, cheap and healthy recipices i'd like to share. But the main point is to get hang of cooking tasty rice.


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Sep 26, 2015
I was going to say much the same as Julie.chan. My wife generally cooks (looks shamefaced) but when I'm by myself, I fry up whatever veggies are around, get whatever protein is on offer at the supermarket (preferably seafood, trying to cut down on meat), add a few spices and soy sauce, then put it on rice.
Bob's your uncle!
Jan 31, 2018
Thank you all so much for your ideas! Especially Lomaster, for the detailed instructions and the attached recipe! I have never stir-fried before, but it seems like I'm going to try that! I guess I really should just experiment a little and see what works..
Sep 26, 2018
Heeeeeeeeeey! I used to live in Hamburg til 2015!
With my experience there I would say a bottle of 麺つゆ "mentsuyu" (noodle soup) is pretty useful to say the least.

Below is how the bottle will look like.
麺つゆ - Google Search

Basically, you can thin it with water put in the other ingredients, then boil them till cooked. You can adjust the flavor to your liking by adding a bit of salt or/and sugar. Japanese people might frown, but pepper works too.
The link below are some examples on how you can use them.

You can also marinate meat in it and then pan fry. The marinated pan fries works well with sandwiches and salads, or just eating them with rice.
Aug 20, 2003
Japanese Family-Style Recipes

Better Homes and Gardens Stir-Fry Recipes
Japan does not have bok choy, so just substitute celery or whatever you want for those recipes.

The Everything One-Pot Cookbook

The One Pan Gourmet
Yes, the last one is a camping book, but I've used it for decades at home.

Find out where the international foods stores are, in case you need a sauce or spice or herb that is not normally on Japanese shelves. I haven't had to search for anything more than dill and peanut oil, but nobody says you have to use them anyway. Feel free to substitute.