I just starting to cook japanese food so i am searching for AUTHENTIC recipes predominantly noodle, fish and veggie dishes (okay, maybe ALL good japanese recipes ;))



Jan W. July 10, 2014
If you want to cook authentic Japanese cuisine, you should familiarize yourself with ingredients such as shoyu/tamari soy sauce (learn the difference), miso (shiro, aka, genmai, hacho - learn the differences), mirin (fortified rice wine seasoning), kombu (kelp for broth), katsuobushi (bonito tuna flakes), rice wine vinegar (komezu) and various spices such as sansho pepper, black sesame seeds, shichimi togarashi pepper, etc.

There are quite a few subcategories of Japanese cuisine, but for an amateur home cook, you will probably be most interested in vegetarian dishes and smaller, less elaborate dishes.

Personally, during the summer, I highly recommend a dish called nasu dengaku, which is usually served in izakaya pubs in Japan. It is basically a broiled or grilled Japanese eggplant glazed with a sweet miso sauce on the cut side allowed to get a little crispy kind of like crème brulée. This is probably the best recipe I've seen online: http://momofukufor2.com/2010/06/nasu-dengaku-miso-glazed-eggplant-recipe/

There are some great books about Japanese cuisine with recipes as well as foundational background on how Japanese cooking 'works'.

いただきます! Enjoy!

The most important
Jan W. July 10, 2014
Keep in mind that, unfortunately, Japanese grocery is often filled with 'convenience ingredients' that often make liberal use of artificial flavors and colorings. The real, high quality good stuff is also available, but for a shopper who doesn't read Japanese it is not always apparent which is which. Usually, ingredients exported from Japan will have a stick-on English ingredients list/nutrition facts to comply with US regulations. The most notorious examples is of mirin - the low-quality stuff is usually labeled as 'aji-mirin' -basically a mirin substitute, kind of like Aunt Jemima syrup vs. Grade A maple syrup. Real mirin will usually be more expensive and the ingredients list will be quite short. The best brand that can be usually found is Mitoku, but Eden Foods imports a genuine Mirin as well.

Don't go for 'instant dashi' it is usually full of MSG and/or artificial flavorings. Most Japanese grocers sell katsuobushi as a sachet-like bag in a box of 4 bags. It will just be the bonito flakes in the sachets, and thats it. The stuff works wonders. Kombu and other kelp are usually all good and there's little chance of getting an inferior product, same with most miso and imported soy sauce. San J is a great USA based brewer of shoyu and tamari - I like the low-sodium versions. Mitoku imports several 'heritage' varieties of shoyu and tamari as well.

Japanese produce can be a little more difficult, but if you are near a Japanese grocer, any knowledgeable staff will point out which veggies and preserved stuff are used for what dishes.

Also, with rice - imported Japanese rice is notoriously expensive, but the quality is apparent. However - some producers in the USA produce short-grain rice that is as good, if not better in some cases than their Japanese counterparts. Koda Farms is among the oldest growers of japonica rice in California and the USA as a whole, their crop is above and beyond anything else grown in this country. You can find it in supermarkets on the WEST COAST, but good luck finding it in the Eastern half of the USA, especially if you want a quantity larger than a small box. You can either order it by calling/emailing Robin Koda at the farm here: http://www.kodafarms.com/procurement-shipping-direct-from-our-farm-not-for-the-unmotivated/ , or there are a few online purveyors in the Western states that ship nationally. The hassle may be high, but the price can't be beat for the exemplary quality, and their rice will keep in a sealed bag or container in the freezer for a year or longer.
barcelona July 10, 2014
Soy sauce , miso (shiro) kombu , katsuobushi rice wine vinegar and various spices such as sansho pepper, black sesame seeds, shichimi togarashi pepper,. are already a staple in my kitchen also nori, umeboshi vinager, hijiki, yuzu, edamame, etc I try to recreate the flavours that I find tasted in japan but it seems I never hit the mark. I am a perfectionist so I am not settling with less then authentic and just right, and that is where most of the recipes go wrong I believe :(
barcelona July 10, 2014
You rock! Thx for your help and info :)
Jan W. July 10, 2014
Barcelona - thanks so much for the compliment.

Let's put it this way - I don't want to be a buzzkill, but it is exceedingly hard to make dishes that will taste just like those you remember from a trip to Japan, or from your favorite place stateside. The main reason for this is that Japanese cuisine is highly regional - people who cook, either professionally or at home in Japan, really hone their prized dishes to a point of great precision. I had the opportunity to celebrate O-Shogatsu New Year in Japan with local friends and their families in Chiba City - just one bite of our host's mochi was like dying and going to heaven. His wife also has a hobby of making nukazuke (rice bran pickles) with their own vegetables from the garden, and they were like shiny gemstones - glossy bright radishes, kyuri cucumbers, carrots, nasu eggplant, and lotus root. It was unbelievable - and I'm still kicking myself for not taking photos because I thought it would be inappropriate.

Like in the countries of Southern Europe, a lot of people in the cities don't have the time or space to cook for themselves at all - so they go out to eat at one or several local restaurants as a social round, each place usually specializes in a particular type of food, often only three or four dishes, if that. However, what they do make packs in the diners consistently. I remember walking out Jiyugaoka on a Monday night and seeing a local eatery completely packed with diners in a relatively quiet residential area.

Therefore, my advice is to find the dishes you love, and keep cooking them to make it exactly how YOU like it. Honestly, maintaining authenticity becomes rather secondary to creating something utterly delicious. Japanese love to experiment too, and the Japanese palate is really quite open to experimentation and creativity (however according to my friends, there's always that ONE dish that they swear has to be made like 'so'.)
Sam1148 July 8, 2014
The definitive english language cook book for Japaneese cooking is.

Japaneese Cooking A Simple Art. http://www.amazon.com/Japanese-Cooking-A-Simple-Art/dp/1568363885/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1404870197&sr=8-1&keywords=japanese+cooking+simple+art

Like Julia Child's works with french cooking...this book is the 'bible' for most home cooks. Very extensive..with sections of the presentation of the meal, the ingredients and tools. Sections of using sauces and making the sauces...stocks..etc. Like Child's work...each step is a building block to another deeper taste.

It's don't be intimidated by the extent of it.
Here's the Dashi (a simple stock) recipe...broken down to very tiny detail. And if you try it just once. You'll be hooked.
savorthis July 8, 2014
I love At Home With Japanese Cooking and Washoku by Elizabeth Andoh. I also second Cooking with Dog- entertaining and a good refresher too.
Lindsay-Jean H. July 8, 2014
Just Hungry (http://justhungry.com/) and Just Bento (http://www.justbento.com/) are great, there are some things in the archives that I come back to time and time again. As for books, I like Japanese Farm Food (http://www.amazon.com/Japanese-Farm-Nancy-Singleton-Hachisu/dp/1449418295/?tag=food52-20) and Izakaya: The Japanese Pub Cookbook (http://www.amazon.com/Izakaya-Japanese-Cookbook-Mark-Robinson/dp/1568364326/?tag=food52-20).
HalfPint July 8, 2014
I like Harumi Kurihara. She makes delicious Japanese dishes. Check out her cookbooks and there's also a website on NHK World for Japanese cooking which features some of her recipes, http://www3.nhk.or.jp/nhkworld/english/tv/kitchen/
yy2023 July 8, 2014
I recommend "Cooking With Dog" on Youtube. As Japanese I am, I see that it covers from traditional Japanese noodle, rice, fish, meat dishes to dessert. Enjoy!
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