As tempting as it is to head to your favorite sushi house every weekend, there are lots of tantalizing Japanese dishes to make at home. I love Japanese food, but I'm a late bloomer – I didn't go to my first sushi restaurant until I met Heather! At first I stayed away from sushi altogether but lately I've fallen in love with Naruto. Whether you love tempura, chicken Katsu, or California rolls, here are some scrumptious hot and cold Japanese dishes to make at home. Before you start, you'll want to familiarize yourself with certain techniques, especially for sushi; certain recipes, such as traditional rice; and certain tools, although remember you can use lots of things in place of rollers and mats!
1. California Roll
California rolls are among the most popular Japanese dishes to make at home, although it's one of the recipes that requires special tools. If you're interested in making lots of sushi at home, you definitely need a bamboo mat, at the very least. The assembly is the most difficult part of this dish, but I think it's incredibly fun as well. Remember, you can always add your own signature touches to your sushi!
1 batch sushi rice
1 avocado sliced into strips
9 ounces crabmeat
1 hot house cucumber seeds removed with a spoon and julienned
1 pack unseasoned nori
toasted sesame seeds
wasabi for garnish
soy sauce for dipping
Prepare a batch of sushi rice.
Because a California Roll gets rolled inside out, you need to cover your makisu (bamboo mat) with plastic wrap to keep the rice from sticking to the mat. You'll also want to prepare a small bowl of water to dip your fingers in to keep the rice from sticking to them.
Carefully fold your nori in half, if the nori is fresh, it should split in half along the fold to give you two 3.75 inch x 8 inch pieces. If your nori is stale and refusing to split, you can toast it by gently waving it over an open flame, or simply use a pair of scissors.
Lay one sheet of nori towards the bottom of the mat. Lightly wet your fingers in the bowl of water and top with a small amount of rice.
Making sure your fingers are moist to prevent the rice from sticking, use your fingertips to gently spread the rice out to the edges of the nori in a thin even layer. Don't use too much pressure, or you'll end up with mushy rice.
Sprinkle the rice with sesame seeds, then flip the rice and nori over so that the rice is on the bottom and the nori is facing up.
Along the bottom edge of the nori, put a few strips of cucumber down, followed by a few strips of avocado. Finish, by spreading some crabmeat across the roll. Be careful not to add too much filling or your roll won't seal properly.
To roll, tuck your thumbs under the bamboo mat and use them to lift the mat and rice over the filling, while using the rest of your fingers to hold the filling in place.
Use the mat to continue rolling the rice over the filling until the rice hits the nori.
At this point you'll probably need to start pealing the mat back away as you continue to roll, otherwise you'll end up rolling the mat into the rice.
Once, the rice has been completely rolled into a cylinder. Give the mat a firm hug with your fingers to compress the rice a little so it doesn't fall apart when you cut it.
If you're not going to eat the roll right away, wrap it in plastic wrap until you are ready to eat your California Roll. Putting the rolls in the refrigerator will make the rice hard and is not recommended, but if it's going to be more than an hour before you're going to eat the roll, you should put it in the fridge to keep the crab from spoiling.
To slice the rolls, use a long sharp knife, and place the back edge of the blade at the very center of the roll. Pull the knife towards you, letting the weight of the knife cut through the roll. If put pressure on the knife, it will squish the roll and the filling will come out. Repeat cutting each half into thirds to make 6 pieces of sushi.
Serve your California roll with soy sauce and wasabi.
2. Shrimp Tempura Bento
I love tempura! It's not the healthiest thing, but whether you batter shrimp, crabsticks, eggplant, or squash, it's just delicious! Actually, this one includes all the best vegetables, but you can add or remove anything you don't like. I recommend eating it exactly as is, and check the source for that baby spinach and tofu salad – it's not to be missed!
6 shrimp or tiger prawn, shelled, deveined and tail on
3 pieces Italian squash or zucchini
3 pieces sweet potato (yam)
3 green beans
3 pieces kabocha (Japanese pumpkin)
Vegetable oil, for deep frying
Black sesame seeds
Baby Spinach and Tofu Salad
1 tablespoon Mizkan (Bonito Flavored) Soup Base
5 tablespoons water
1/4 tablespoon grated daikon
3 oz rice flour
1 oz all-purpose flour
1/2 tablespoon baking powder
1/4 tablespoon salt
1 tablespoon vegetable oil
1 egg yolk
150 ml ice cold water
3 small ice cubes
Rinse the shrimp and pat dry with paper towels. Cut the sharp tail off with a pair of kitchen scissors. This will avoid excessive splattering while deep-frying.
To avoid the shrimp from curling, cut a few shallow vertical slits at the bottom of the shrimp.
Prepare the other vegetable ingredients and lay on a flat surface or plate.
Prepare the dipping sauce in a small bowl and set aside.
Right before you’re ready to fry the tempura, mix all the ingredients of the Batter in a bowl, with a pair of chopsticks. Stir to combine well. The texture should have a runny consistency but a little lumpy is fine. Add the ice cubes in the batter.
Heat about 3 inches of oil in a flat bottom deep skillet to about 340 degree F for deep-frying. Stir the batter with a pair of chopsticks before coating the ingredients with the batter. Start off by frying the vegetables. Coat each piece of the vegetables with the batter and deep fry until light brown. Do not overcrowd the skillet so you might need to deep fry the vegetables in two batches. When the vegetables are done, transfer them out onto a dish lined with paper towels. To deep fry the shrimp, dip each shrimp in the batter and drop the shrimp into the wok, laying it flat on the skillet so the bottom part of the shrimp goes down to the skillet, which will make the lacy effect on the shrimp. Repeat the same for the other shrimp. When the shrimp turn yellowish and light golden in color and become crispy, dish out with a strainer or slotted spoon, draining the excess oil on a dish lined with paper towels.
Assembling the Shrimp Tempura Bento:
Arrange the steamed rice in the rice compartment and top with some black sesame seeds. Next, prepared the salad according to the Salad recipe above. Place the salmon teriyaki and arrange the shrimp tempura and vegetables in the main compartment of the bento box. Add a little dipping sauce in the small compartment next to the tempura, save the remaining in a small bowl for dipping.
The bento is now done and ready to be served.
3. Miso Glazed Cod
Although I adore seafood, cod is one of the only fish I like, and this recipe makes it taste better than anything ever. The glaze is simple but crazy good. It's got sweetness and zing that beautifully complements such a moist, flaky fish. Don't worry, there are some wonderful sides included here that pair beautifully with this dish – including the aforementioned salad!
4. Spicy Tuna Roll
I couldn't leave out the spicy tuna roll! And believe you me, this recipe definitely makes it spicy! If you need to know how to make a really good sushi rice, the source has an excellent recipe that's ideal for beginners. This one is a bit easier to assemble than the California roll, but it's just as much fun. If you like your tuna rolls spicier, just add in more chili powder – or, conversely, less, if you'd like to focus more on the fish.
1/2 Nori Sheet
1/2 cup - Sushi Rice (Sushi Rice Recipe)
1 ounce - Raw Tuna Sashimi
1/4 teaspoon - mayonnaise
Pinch of Chili Powder
1 bowl - Warm Vinagered Water (Vinegared Water Recipe)
Take the half sheet of nori and put it shiny side down, with the long side facing you.
Dip your hands in the bowl of vinagered water. The vinagered water is used to prevent the sushi rice from sticking. You want your hands to be damp, not wet.
Gently pat and spread the 1/2 cup of sushi rice in an even layer on each sheet using your fingers. Do not mash or smear the rice on the nori.
Chop the tuna.
Mix tuna, mayonnaise and chile powder.
Place the tuna horizontally across the nori.
Roll the sushi using the Maki sushi rolling method.
On the cutting board, cut the spicy tuna roll in half.
Take the two halves, place them side by side, and cut the in half again.
Cut all pieces in half again, which should leave you with 8 pieces.
5. Seaweed Salad
This simple salad packs a ton of flavor. I never imagined I would enjoy seaweed until that first trip to that first Japanese restaurant, but now I can't get enough of it. This is easy to make, a fantastic side even when the rest of your meal doesn't consist of Japanese fare. I'd make extra and have it for lunch the next day! You can always add in some fish or chicken to make it heartier.
30 grams (1 ounce) dry mixed seaweed
1 tablespoon + 1 teaspoon rice vinegar
1 tablespoon toasted sesame oil
1 tablespoon soy sauce
1 tablespoon sugar (you can substitute a 1/2 tablespoon agave)
1/2 teaspoon salt (to taste)
1/2 teaspoon ginger juice
1 tablespoon toasted sesame seeds
1 scallion, finely chopped
Put the dry seaweed in a large bowl and fill it with cold water. If you like your seaweed crunchy, soak it for 5 minutes, if you like it more tender, soak it for 10 minutes.
To make the dressing, combine the rice vinegar, sesame oil, soy sauce, sugar, salt and ginger juice in a small bowl and whisk together.
Drain the seaweed and use your hands to squeeze out excess water. Wipe out any excess water in the bowl, and then return the seaweed along with the dressing and sesame seeds. Toss thoroughly to combine. Plate the salad and garnish with scallions.
This is a classic, traditional dish, so I couldn't leave it out. A few make a fantastic appetizer, or you can make a meal of your gyoza by including the seaweed salad or a small soup dish. However you choose to eat your dumplings, just make sure you do eat them, if just for the dipping sauce. Actually, just the dipping sauce is fantastic, you might want to use it for other things as well!
Store-bought gyoza wrapper
Oil, for pan-frying
Water, for steaming
8 oz ground pork
2 oz cabbage, shredded and cut into small pieces
1 thumb-sized ginger, peeled and grated
1 clove garlic, peeled and grated
1/2 tablespoon cornstarch
1 1/2 tablespoons
Mizkan (Bonito Flavored) Soup Base (Check source for excellent recipe.)
1/2 tablespoon sake
3 dashes white pepper
1/2 teaspoon sesame oil
1 tablespoon chopped scallion, green part only
Pinch of salt
Ponzu Dipping Sauce:
Mizkan AJIPON® Ponzu
1/2 teaspoon sesame oil
In a bowl, combine all the ingredients in the Filling and blend well. The Filling should be sticky and cohesive.
In a dipping bowl, combine the Mizkan AJIPON® Ponzu with the sesame oil. Stir to blend well.
To assemble the gyoza, place a piece of the gyoza wrapper on your palm or a flat surface. Spoon about 1 teaspoon of the Filling onto the center of the wrapper. Dip your index finger into some water and moisten the outer edges of the dumpling wrapper.
Fold the gyoza over, press and seal the left end.
Use your thumb and index finger to make a pleat. Pinch to secure tightly.
Repeat the same to make the pleats. (Start with 3-4 pleats if you are a beginner). A nicely wrapped gyoza should have a crescent shape.
Heat up the oil in a skillet or stir-fry pan over medium heat. Arrange the gyoza and cover with the lid.
Pan-fry the gyoza until the bottoms turn golden brown and become crispy.
Add about 1/4-inch water into the skillet or stir-fry pan and cover the lid immediately. The water should evaporate after a few minutes. Continue to cook the gyoza for a couple of minutes to crisp up the bottoms.
Remove the gyoza from the skillet or stir-fry pan and serve immediately with the Ponzu dipping sauce.
If you like miso soup and don't mind pork, you'll love this soup. Some of the ingredients are specialized, so it's definitely something you'll want to shop for well in advance. However, it's worth the effort, especially when it's cold outside. Sit down to soup and salad, Japanese style, or enjoy this on its own.
1 pound pork belly cut into bite-size chunks
2 scallions white parts chopped, green parts thinly sliced
1 inch piece ginger sliced into 8 coins
1/4 cup sake
6 cups water
4x3 inch piece kombu
1 burdock root (about 160 grams)
1 large carrot cut into bit-size chunks
200 grams konnyaku cut into bite-size chunks
200 grams baby taro peeled and cut in half
1/4 cup yellow miso (to taste)
Put the pork belly into a cold pan, and turn on the heat to medium. The pork should release some fat as the pan heats up so you shouldn't need to add any oil. Once some oil has rendered out, add the white parts of the scallions and ginger and fry until the surface of the pork is cooked and a brown crust has formed on the bottom of the pan.
Turn up the heat to high and then add the sake. Use the liquid to scrape up the brown fond on the bottom of the pan, and boil until there's almost no liquid left.
Add the water and kombu, and then bring to a boil. Skim off any foam that accumulates at the surface until there's no more foam accumulating.
Cover with a lid and turn down the heat to maintain a gentle simmer, and cook for about 40 minutes.
Meanwhile, fill a bowl with cold water, then add a tablespoon of vinegar or lemon juice. Working quickly, peel the burdock, then use a sharp knife to whittle away chips of burdock as you rotate the root with your other hand.
Remove the kombu and ginger. Skim off as much excess fat as you can. Drain the burdock and add it to the tonjiru along with the carrots, konnyaku and taro.
Simmer until the vegetables are tender. Turn down the heat to low, then add the miso. Because the salinity of miso varies by brand, taste the soup and add more miso if it needs more salt.
Add the green parts of the scallions, and serve.
The Japanese culture is rich and colorful, something the food often reflects. While learning to make some of these dishes at home, look at the traditions and the history behind them – you might even find a new twist on your brand new recipes! Have you ever had homemade sushi?