Agedashi nasu may look harmless enough, but each slice of eggplant comes packed with flavor.
A variation on the popular agedashi dofu, the principal ingredient in agedashi nasu is eggplant. In some ways, using eggplant is preferable to tofu as it soaks up much of the dashi’s flavor. For those wanting to experiment further, try preparing mochi (rice cakes) or satoimo (taro root) in this way.
This dish is a good example of aburanuki, a technique by which hot water is poured on the ingredients in order to remove excess oil.
Various kinds of garnish will suit the dish. Select your favorite among grated ginger, dried bonito flakes, thinly sliced miyoga or chopped green onion.
Ingredients (serves 2 people)
- 170 – 180 g eggplant
- 100 ml of dashi soup
- 1.5 tablespoons of soy sauce
- 1 tablespoon of mirin
- 1 teaspoon of sugar
- 1 tablespoon of ginger (grated)
- 200 ml of boiled water
First prepare the dashi-based stock. Mix the dashi soup, soy sauce, mirin and sugar in a pot and warm it on a low heat.
Pour vegetable oil into a frying pan, filling to a depth of roughly 3 cm. Place the pan on a medium heat.
Remove the calyx from the eggplant and cut it into half lengths.
Place each half on a cutting board skin up and slice the skin diagonally at 2 mm intervals. Each slit should be about the half thickness of the eggplant.
Now to quickly deep-fry the eggplant. Make sure that the oil temperature is 179 – 180℃. Remove the moisture from the eggplant with a paper towel then deep fry skin down for 1 minute. Turn over and cook the other side for the same length of time.
Once cooked, carefully remove the oil by draining the eggplant on a metal rack. Place all of the pieces in a colander and pour 1 cup of the hot water over the eggplant to rinse away any remaining oil.
While they are still warm, place the slices of eggplant into a serving dish and drizzle on the dashi stock until it makes a pool around the vegetable. Garnish with the grated ginger and serve.
This typically Japanese mix of textures is an ideal addition to any bento.
Takenoko no mazegohan is a seasonal rice dish which features takenoko (bamboo shoots) mixed with chicken and a selection of Japanese vegetables.
The preparation of the bamboo shoots takes place the day before, and follows the same process as that used in our recipe for Tosa-style bamboo shoots).
For an interesting variation, mix the ingredients with vinegar rice to create gomokuzushi. Detailed directions for vinegar rice can be found here. The dish is also easy to adapt for vegetarians: simply omit the chicken and use kombu dashi rather than the regular kombu and katsuobushi variety.
Ingredients (serves 6 – 8 people)
- 100 – 120 g of chicken thigh
- 70 g of carrots
- 70 g of shiitake mushrooms
- 1 deep-fried tofu pouch (aburaage)
- 250 g of boiled bamboo shoots
- 125 g of konnyaku (aka devils tongue)
- 10 g of kanpyo (dried gourd strips )
- 150 ml of dashi soup
- 4 tablespoons of sugar
- 2 tablespoons of sake
- 4 tablespoons of soy sauce
- 2 tablespoons of mirin
- Several pinches of roughly cut mitsuba (Japanese wild chervil) or ginger pickles as a garnish
The bamboo shoots need to be prepared one day ahead. Wash them and scrape off the tough base of each shoot. Slice off the tips and make a shallow incision the length of the section covered by skin. Next, place the shoots in a pot of water together with 2 handfuls of rice bran and 2 red peppers. Bring to the boil, then cover with a drop-lid (the instructions for which can be found here). The bamboo shoots need to be covered with water the whole time. Keep the pot on a low heat for about 1 and a half to 2 hours, until the hardest parts of the bamboo softens. Take the pot off the heat and allow it to soak and cool overnight.
The rest of the ingredients can be prepared the following day. Ready the chicken by removing the skin and fat, then chop it into bite-sized pieces. Cut the carrot it into strips 4 to 5 cm long, so that they resemble matchsticks. Remove the stems of the shiitake, then cut the mushrooms into slices 2 mm thick.
Next, place the aburaage in a colander and pour 100 ml of hot water over the deep-fried tofu pouch to remove any excess oil. Cut into pieces 5 mm thick, 3 to 4 cm in length.
Now for the takenoko, or bamboo shoots. Rinse theshoots in a bowl of cold water to wash away the bran. Peel the skin of the shoots along the shallow incision you made the day before, so that you have only the soft, fleshy part of the shoot. Cut into slices 3 – 4 mm thick, then again into bite size quarters or squares.
Prepare the konnyaku by cutting it into thin squares 2 – 3 mm across and 1.5 – 2 mm thick, then boil them in a hot water for 2 – 3 minutes.
Wash the kanpyo in a bowl of cold water then squeeze out the water. Put the kanpyo back in a bowl, add 1 teaspoon of salt then rub it with the salt well for 30 seconds. Then wash the salt out with a cold water. Place the kanpyo in a pan containing 1 liter of cold water and bring it briefly to the boil before reducing to a low heat. Cook the kanpyo for 15 minutes in total. Once cooked, rinse in a bowl of cold water then squeeze out any excess liquid. Cut it into squares 2 cm wide.
Place the casserole with 1 table spoon of the vegetable oil and warm it on medium heat. Once it becomes warm, add chicken and carrot and cook for 2 – 3 minutes till the color change of the chicken. then add deep-fried tofu pouch, shiitake mushrooms, konnyaku, kanpyo. Mix and cook the whole ingredients for another 2 – 3 minutes then add the bamboo shoot at the end and mix them entirely.
Add 150 ml of dashi soup to the casserole, once its boiled add 4 tablespoons of sugar, 2 tablespoons of sake, 4 tablespoons of soy sauce, 2 tablespoons of mirin. Mix and place a drop lid on the ingredients. Maintain a medium heat and cook for 20 minutes until the sauce is almost gone.
Prepare Japanese rice using the instructions for your particular rice cooker.
You’re finally ready to mix the rice and ingredients for the dish in a bowl. A good balance is 4 – 5 tablespoons of the ingredients for every 150 grams of cooked rice. As you do this, be sure to remove as much liquid as you can before moving the ingredients from the casserole dish.
Serve with mitsuba as garnish or ginger pickles on the side.
Satsuma imo, or sweet potato, is used in Japanese cuisine for both sweet and savory dishes.
Kimpira is a Japanese cooking style in which vegetables are sautéd, then simmered on a low heat. Kimpira is most commonly associated with gobo (burdock roots) or other root vegetables such as lotus roots, carrots, and sometimes daikon (Japanese radish).
The basic approach is to cut the vegetables into thin rectangular strips, and sauté them in the sugar and soy sauce. The saltiness of the soy sauce will bring out the natural sweetness of the potatoes, so there’s no need for much added sugar. For colour, sprinkle black sesame seeds over the sweet potato as a garnish.
This dish is hashi-yasume, which literally means “rest for the chopsticks”.
Ingredients (serves 3 – 4)
- 200 – 250 g sweet potatoes
- 1 tablespoon of vegetable oil
- 1/2 table spoon of sugar
- 1 tablespoon of sake
- 1 and 1/2 tablespoon of soy sauce
- 1 teaspoon of mirin
- 1 teaspoon of sesame oil
- 2 – 3 pinches of black sesame seeds
Wash the sweet potatoes. Slice them diagonally into pieces 3 mm thick, then again lengthwise into strips 4 – 5 cm long and 3 mm x 3 mm wide.
Soak the strips in a bowl of cold water and rinse them, changing the water in the bowl 3 – 4 times to remove some of the starch.
Place a frying pan with 1 tablespoon of vegetable oil on a high heat. Add the sweet potatoes to the pan after removing some of the the moisture with a paper towel. Sauté for 3 minutes, stirring every so often.
Turn the heat down to medium, add sugar, sake , soy sauce and mirin then continue sautéing the ingredients until the sauce is almost gone. Add the sesame oil at the end, turn off the heat then mix well.
Place the slices of sweet potato on a plate, sprinkle the black sesame seeds, then serve.
Hayashi rice, or hashed beef in demi-glace sauce, is classic yoshoku. But what is the origin of the recipe?
Based on European dishes introduced by visitors to Japan during the late Edo and early Meiji eras, yoshoku is Japanese-style western food. At that time authentic ingredients were hard to come by. As a result, Japanese chefs replaced certain ingredients or rethought the recipes, resulting in dishes know today as Japanese curry, hayashi rice, pork cutlets, omrice, Hamberg steak, etc.
As Japanese comfort food goes, hayashi rice is up there with indigenous dishes such as niku jaga. Typically, recipes call for strips of beef and sliced onion cooked in a thick sauce of red wine and demi-glace. Here, I’ve added shimeji mushrooms for added flavor.
The recipe’s exact origins are unclear. Some say that hashed beef was introduced by visitors to Japan, and the name evolved first into haishi, and then into hayashi. An alternative history has Yuteki Hayashi, founder of the Maruzen chain of bookstores, inventing the dish. According to this version, the dish is named after him.
No matter where the recipe originates, it is today a staple of Japanese home cooking.
Ingredients (serves 8 – 10)
- 500 g of onion
- 300 g of thinly sliced beef
- 180 g of shimeji mushrooms
- 2 pinches of salt
- 2 pinches of black pepper
- 2 tablespoons of vegetable oil
- 50 ml of red wine
- 580 g of demi-glace sauce
- 2 tablespoons of tomato paste
- 1 tablespoon of soy sauce
- 1 tablespoons of sugar
- 1 tablespoon tonkatsu sauce
First, cut the beef into bite size pieces and season with 2 pinches of salt and black pepper. Slice the onion (with the grain) into pieces 1.5 cm wide and remove the roots of the shimeji. Tear the mushrooms into small pieces.
Warm 1 tablespoon of vegetable oil in a frying pan on medium-high and sauté the beef until browned. Next, move the beef to a casserole dish and pour in 50 ml red wine.
Add the demi-glace sauce and 1 and 1/2 cups of cold water to the casserole dish. Warm on a medium heat. Once it has come to the boil, stew for 20 minutes on a low heat with the lid on.
While you’re waiting for the beef, prepare the onion and the mushrooms. Add 1 table spoon of vegetable oil to the frying pan, warm on high heat, then sauté the onion. When the onions start to soften, add the mushrooms and a pinch of salt and pepper.
Add the sautéd onions and mushrooms to the casserole and stew it for another 20 minutes.
Mix the 2 tablespoons of tomato paste, tablespoon of soy sauce, tablespoon of sugar and tablespoon of tonkatsu sauce in a small bowl, then pour the mixture into the casserole dish.
Stew for another 10 minutes. Check the taste and adjust the flavor with the salt and pepper.
Serve with rice and pickles.
Dried shrimp and basil in a delicate tempura batter.
Basil works remarkably well in tempura. Here, the herb is combined with a handful of dried shrimp which adds some weight as well as texture to the dish.
When you mix the basil, tempura powder and ice water, be careful not to mix them for too long. There should still be pockets of dry powder in the mixture. In order to prevent the leaves from separating in the oil, hold the ingredients with the chopsticks until the outside of the ingredients become solid for 10 seconds.
As soon as you find the tempura are crispy, take them out of the oil. Deep frying for too long will kill the aroma of the basil.
This dish pairs well with a dry white wine like chardonnay or a sake such as Tateyama Junmai Ginjo.
Ingredients (for 2 people)
- 25 g of fresh basil (leaves and buds)
- 2 – 3 tablespoons of sakuraebi (dried shrimp)
- 3 – 3.5 tablespoons of tempura powder
- 2 tablespoons of ice water
Wash the basil leaves, shake off any water and place them in a bowl. Add the dried shrimp.
Gently sprinkle the tempura powder over the ingredients and add ice water. Mix roughly so that the ingredients will hold together in the cooking oil.
Place a deep-frying dish containing 2 – 3 cm vegetable oil on a medium high gas and heat it to 170℃.
Next, separate the tempura ingredients into 5 – 6 portions. Deep-fry one side of each portion for about a minute. Once the ingredients become crispy, turn over and deep-fry for a further 30 seconds.
Remove the tempura from the oil and place on a paper towel so any oil drains away.
Sprinkle a pinch of salt and serve.
A culinary mashup found on pizza menus throughout Japan.
Long before the ramenburger or the matcha croissant there was teriyaki pizza, an East-meets-West hybrid destined to become a staple of delivery menus across the country. Who would have thought pizza topped with chicken in a sweet and ever-so-slightly salty sauce would have proved so popular?
Teriyaki sauce is a combination of soy, mirin and sugar. In Japanese cuisine it’s traditionally paired with chicken (see our recipe for teriyakidon) or sometimes blue fish. It’s also delicious on baby potatoes or as a tare for meatballs.
This recipe for teriyaki pizza doesn’t require a great deal of time in the kitchen. We used a bread machine, but you can knead the pizza dough by hand if you’re so inclined.
To prevent the topping from being too dry, we recommend a dressing of yuzukosho mixed with olive oil and lemon juice when pizza comes out of the oven.
Ingredients (for 6 people/3 square pizzas)
- 280 g of hard wheat flour
- 15 g of butter
- 180 ml of cold water
- 1 tablespoon of sugar
- 1 teaspoon of salt
- 1 teaspoon of dry yeast
- 3 – 4 tablespoons of mayonnaise
- 1/2 tablespoon of soy sauce
- 300 g of chicken thigh
- 2 tablespoons of sake
- 2 tablespoons of soy sauce
- 2 tablespoons of mirin
- 100 g of eringi mushrooms and maitake mushrooms
- 150 – 200 g of shredded cheese
- 1 cup of thinly cut nori (3 – 4 cm length, 1 mm thin)
- 1 teaspoon of yuzukosho
- 1 tablespoon of olive oil
- 1 tablespoon of lemon juice
Prepare the sauce and topping first.
Mix the mayonnaise and soy sauce together in a small bowl. Tear apart the mushrooms with your hands. This shouldn’t be difficult if you’re using eringi mushrooms and maitake mushrooms. Otherwise, slice whatever you use thinly.
Remove the skin from the chicken thighs, slice the chicken into pieces 1 – 1.5 cm thick and then again into bite sized pieces. Evenly sprinkle 2 pinches of salt across the surface of the chicken, wait for 5 minutes and then remove any excess liquid with a paper towel. Place a frying pan with 1 tablespoon of vegetable oil on the medium heat and sauté the chicken for 2 minutes. Once the pieces have browned, turn them over then sauté another 2 minutes with the lid on. Next, remove any liquid remaining in the frying pan with paper towel. Mix the sake, soy sauce and mirin in a small bowl, then pour the mixture into the pan. Turn the chicken over frequently until the sauce has reduced.
Next, prepare the pizza dough. We used a bread maker to mix the ingredients, following the machine’s instructions. If you don’t have a bread maker, you’ll need to modify the ingredients and knead the dough by hand.
Once the dough is ready, lay it out on a wooden board coated in a thin layer of flour to prevent the dough from sticking. Separate the dough into 3 even portions, then use your hands to work the dough into smooth and round balls. Set them 10 cm apart on the board then cover with a slightly damp tea towel. Allow the dough to sit for 10 – 15 minutes. Use a rolling pin to flatten the dough into rectangles 2 mm thick and 25 cm x 15 cm. Do this on a sheet of backing paper. Lastly, puncture each rectangle roughly with a fork.
Now it’s time to dress the pizza with its topping. Coat the dough with a thin layer of the mayonnaise and soy sauce. Next, add the teriyaki chicken then the mushrooms. Finally, sprinkle the shredded cheese evenly onto the top of each pizza. Bake them at 200℃ preheated for 12 – 15 minutes.
Serve the pizza with nori as a garnish. Add yuzukosho dressing and serve.
It may surprise you, but green perilla is an excellent substitute for basil when making pesto.
The dish the world has come to know and love as Pesto alla Genovese is traditionally prepared with fresh basil, pine nuts in olive oil, garlic, and Parmigiano Reggiano (Parmesan cheese). In Italy, many recipes also call for the addition of Fiore Sardo cheese (Pecorino Sardo) to give the paste an even sharper, saltier flavor.
What you may not know is that fresh shiso leaves (also referred to as green perilla) can be used in place of basil. The result: a texture that’s very similar to the original paste, but with a wilder, spicier flavor.
This particular recipe makes enough shiso paste for 6 – 7 servings. If possible, try to use wild rather than supermarket-bought shiso – this will guarantee maximum flavor. And like any vegetable dish, look for the freshest shiso leaves available.
Eat the pesto fresh over pasta or refrigerate for later (in which case, cover with a thin layer of olive oil to prevent discoloring).
Shiso paste (makes 6 – 7 servings)
- 120 ml of extra virgin olive oil
- 10 – 15 g of garlic (1 clove)
- 40 – 50 g of aojiso (green shiso, also known as ooba)
- 2 – 3 sheets of aojiso as a garnish
- 40 g of pine nuts
- 1 teaspoon of salt
Pasta (for 2 people)
- 160 g of spaghettini
- 4 – 5 tablespoons of aojiso paste (refer to the following method)
- 4 – 5 tablespoons of grated Parmesan cheese
- 2 – 3 tablespoons of the broth leftover after boiling the pasta
First prepare the aojiso paste. Place the pine nuts in a frying pan and roast them on a low heat for 3 – 4 minutes before allowing them to cool. Wash the aojiso and then remove any moisture with a paper towel. Next, remove the stems and then roughly tear the leaves into pieces.
Chop the garlic roughly, then place the pine nuts, aojiso, garlic, salt and olive oil in a bowl and blend with a hand mixer (e.g. Bamix) until the ingredients combine to form a paste.
If preparing the pesto ahead of time, pour the paste into a clean transparent container and seal the surface with 2 tablespoons of olive oil (not included on the ingredients list) to prevent discoloration.
Now for the pasta. Place a large saucepan with 2 liters of cold water on a high heat and bring it to the boil. Add 20 g of salt, then cook the spaghettini based on the particular pasta’s instructions.
While cooking the spaghettini, prepare the aojiso sauce and garnish by pouring 4 – 5 tablespoons of aojiso paste and 4 – 5 tablespoons of grated Parmesan cheese into a large bowl and mixing well.
Next comes the garnish. Slice 2 – 3 aojiso leaves into strips 1 mm thin and rinse them in a bowl of cold water for 2 – 3 minutes. Drain.
Once the spaghettini is cooked, drain and quickly add to the bowl with the aojiso pesto. Mix well and adjust the thickness of the sauce by adding a tablespoon or two of the water used to cook the pasta.
Plate the spaghettini, garnish and serve.
Nagoya’s contribution to the world’s great bar snacks.
Tebasaki chicken – deep-fried chicken wings coated with soy sauce and coated in sesame seeds – is a dish closely associated with the city of Nagoya, where it is a popular form of otsumami (dish to be eaten while drinking). The wings are full of flavor, thanks to the ingredients of the tare: vinegar, soy, sake, mirin, a little sugar, garlic and ginger.
The key to the dish is deep frying the chicken twice. This gives the skin it’s distinctive crispy texture.
Here we’re using the traditional seasoning, but feel free to experiment. Cumin, roughly-grated red peppers, cayenne pepper or Japan Eats favorite yuzukosho will add even more flavor.
While usually eaten hot, they can also be refrigerated eaten the next day.
Ingredients (for 2 – 4 people)
- 10 chicken wings
- 2 – 3 pinches of salt and grated black pepper
- 3 – 4 tablespoons of potato starch
- Vegetable oil for deep-frying
- 2 tablespoons of soy sauce
- 2 table spoons of sake
- 2 tablespoons of mirin
- 1 tablespoon of sugar
- 1 tea spoon of vinegar (rice vinegar)
- 5 – 10 g of garlic (1 clove, crushed)
- 5 g of ginger (sliced)
- 2 – 3 tablespoons of white sesame seeds
- 2 – 3 pinches of roughly grated black pepper
First, remove the chicken wings from the refrigerator and bring them to room temperature.
While waiting, prepare the tare, or sauce. Place a small pan with all of the tare ingredients on a low heat and warm slowly. Maintain the level of heat and reduce for 5 minutes, during which you’ll see small bubbles rising from the bottom of the pan. Pour the tare into a cooking tray and allow it to cool down naturally.
Next come the chicken wings. Remove any excess water with kitchen paper. Sprinkle 2 or 3 pinches of salt and grated black pepper evenly over both sides of the chicken wings and gently rub it into the chicken.
Now warm the vegetable oil in the deep-fryer on a medium heat until it reaches 160 – 165°C.
Coat the chicken wings with a thin, even layer of potato starch (pour the starch through a strainer) just before deep-frying.
Deep-fry the chicken wings in oil at 160 – 165°C for 5 minutes before removing and resting them for 3 – 4 minutes. Next, heat the oil to 175°C and deep-fry the chicken wings a second time for about a minute.
Once you remove the chicken wings from the oil, remove the excess oil carefully and place the wings into the cooking tray. Add the seasoning and mix well. Finally, coat the chicken with the tare using a teaspoon and serve. Preferably with a cold drink!
When Japanese think summer, they think somen.
Somen are very thin noodles made from wheat flour. They are usually eaten cold during the summer months, often with a garnish of grated ginger, asatsuki chives and thinly sliced miyoga.
This recipe combines the fine texture of the noodles with the refreshing flavors of sudachi, a Japanese citrus grown in southern Japan, and yuzukosho, a condiment made from dried yuzu, green peppers and salt.
If you’re having trouble sourcing the ingredients, you can substitute limes for the sudachi, and Yuzusco dressing for the yuzukosho.
For something completely different, try adding nampla and cilantro to give the dish a Thai flavor.
Ingredients (serves 4 people)
- 130 – 150 g cucumber
- 60 – 70 g miyoga (Japanese ginger)
- 130 g radish sprouts
- 12 sheets of shiso (green perilla)
- 8 tablespoons of sakuraebi (dried shrimp)
- 2 teaspoons yuzukosho
- 2 sudachi, cut in halves
- 200 g somen (50 g each)
- 400 – 600 ml mentsuyu (Japanese condiment traditionally poured over somen)
Fill a pot with water and boil. Once at the boil, add the somen and cook according to the instructions on the package. Next, drain the noodles using a fine colander or sieve. Rinse them in ice cold water and drain. Repeat several times, changing the water each time.
Now that all the starch has been removed from the somen, it’s time to prepare the rest of the ingredients. Slice the cucumber diagonally into pieces 1 mm thick.
Cut the roots from 130 g of radish sprouts and slice the mioga in half lengthwise and then again into thin strips.
Slice the green shiso leaves into strips 1 – 2 mm in width. Rinse the cucumber, radish sprouts, mioga and shiso together in a bowl of iced water for between 1 and 2 minutes. Mix them well while in the water.
Now divide the noodles between four serving bowls. Drain the vegetables and heap them onto the somen. Try to do this as artfully as possible. Sprinkle dried shrimp evenly over the vegetables and gently pour the mentsuyu into the dish, trying not to crush the vegetable garnish.
Add a half-teaspoon of yuzukosho to the side of each dish. Slice the sudachi into halves and add one half to each bowl. Serve.
Snow peas coated in a tangy, spicy dressing
Here’s another dish that compliments the warmer weather. The peas provide the texture, while the dressing gives the dish it’s flavor.
To prepare the dressing, use a suribachi (Japanese mortar) to grind the sesame seeds. It’s also possible to do this in a food processor – just be sure not to overdo it. Ideally, you want to keep some of that rough texture.
If you feel the dressing is too strong, add another 100 g of snow peas (or until there’s a good balance between the flavor of the peas and the dressing).
You can also use snap peas, which are thicker and rounder than snow peas but have much the same flavor.
Finally, the type of vinegar used for the dressing will determine how much sugar to add. Here, I chose grain vinegar and mixed in 1 tablespoon of sugar. If, however, you use rice vinegar you’ll need to reduce the amount of sugar. Start with half a tablespoon and little by little add more until you’re happy with the taste.
Ingredients (serves 4)
- 300 g of snow peas
- 3 tablespoons of finely chopped ginger (roughly 30 g)
- 2 tablespoons of black sesame seeds (half glazed)
- 3 tablespoons of grain vinegar
- 1 tablespoon of sugar
- 1 tablespoon of soy sauce
- 1 teaspoon of doubanjiang (Chinese chilli bean paste)
- 2 tablespoons of sesame oil
Place a frying pan with 2 tablespoons of black sesame seeds on a low heat. Warm the seeds until they give off an aroma.
Now, grind the black sesame seeds in a suribachi or mortar.
Having done this, string the snow peas and wash them in a bowl of cold water.
Place the peas in a pot containing 1.5 – 2 liters of cold water on high heat and add 2 – 3 pinches of salt when it comes to the boil.
Boil the snow peas for 1.5 minutes. Spread them on a basket and allow them to cool until they reach room temperature.
Mix the ingredients of the dressing and then add the snow peas. Mix roughly, coat the snow peas evenly with the dressing and serve.