Don your chef hats and get a taste of Japan’s delicious offerings by recreating these yummy dishes. By Akriti Sharma
When we think of Japanese cuisine, ramen bowls and sushi often come to mind, although it is definitely much more than just these. Traditional Japanese cooking follows the philosophy of multi-course meals cooked with basic ingredients based on the rule of five: five colours, flavours and cooking techniques, and an aesthetically pleasing presentation style. Abundant use of water in the form of soups and stews, along with pickled vegetables, stocks and sauces make Japanese food nutritious and balanced with flavours. It is a well-known fact that the people in Japan enjoy a long life span, with the second-highest life expectancy in the world, and they credit it to their balanced diet. From tempura to edamame and more, here is a list of 11 easy Japanese snacks that are rich in nutritional value and fitting for everyone’s taste buds.
These Japanese dumplings are also known as Japanese Potstickers. These mouthwatering dumplings can be made using a savoury filling of ground pork and vegetables wrapped in a thin dough. Crispy on the outside, the best way to eat gyoza is to pick the dumpling with a chopstick and then dip it in the sauce and pop it in your mouth. This recipe is for pan-fried gyoza, but you can also steam or boil them.
Japanese chicken skewers (Yakitori)
Yakitori translates to ‘grilled chicken.’ This is one of the most popular appetisers in Japan because of its sweet and savoury flavours. A regular on the menu of street food stalls, the main feature of this recipe is the type of seasoning and chicken parts used. The succulent chicken pieces are grilled on the skewers to elevate the taste and reduce the overall cooking time. The sauce used to season and glaze yakitori pieces is known as Tare, and this recipe uses Teriyaki sauce for glazing the barbecued chicken. The key to perfect this recipe is to skewer chicken tightly, leaving no gap. Enjoy your delicious Yakitori with rice or eat directly off the skewers.
Barbecued Japanese rice cakes (Onigiri)
Onigiri means rice balls in Japanese. These are barbecued short-grain rice balls with or without filing; these are traditionally made by grilling rice balls over charcoal until they turn brown and crispy. They can be wrapped in seaweed or fried directly on a pan with soy sauce until they get a crispy and smoky crust. You can make onigiri with leftover rice as well. This recipe will help you cook eight basic versions of onigiri, which are easy to make at home. The rice balls are triangular or oval in shape with savoury fillings such as tuna, salted salmon, soy sauce, Kombu kelp, and etc.
This Japanese snack recipe is everyone’s favourite. According to legends, Japanese soldiers brought this recipe from China after WWII. There are so many variations of ramen. This Tonkotsu ramen recipe uses pork bone broth and pork belly, cooked to perfection after marinating it in soy and Worcestershire sauces. The ramen bowl is assembled by pouring the broth and soy sauce over cooked ramen noodles, topped with a boiled egg, pork belly and vegetables, and garnished with crispy seaweed.
When juicy shrimps are fried in a light tempura batter, they get a crispy and irresistible crunch that makes the hard work worthwhile. While Japanese chefs spend years mastering tempura, it is not too late for you to begin! This recipe will serve as one of the best tempura guides to master frying perfectly airy tempuras. The key lies in creating a balanced tempura batter to make this recipe a success. Make sure to not over-mix the batter to minimise gluten formation. Once you are done with the batter, fry it immediately to avoid gluten activation. Your crispy fried-on-the-outside and buttery-soft-on-the-inside tempura are ready to be relished.
Chicken spring rolls (Harumaki)
Harumaki literally translates to spring roll. These spring rolls are a street-side staple across Japan. This delectable snack has a crispy shell on the outside with an assortment of savoury meat and textured vegetable fillings on the inside. You can make this dish by using chicken breast and vegetables wrapped in thin rice paper, folded into rectangular-shaped spring rolls. Serve them immediately while hot with sesame dipping sauce on the side.
Salted chicken wings (Teba Shio)
Teba Shio is salt-and-pepper chicken wings that are very popular in Japan. These are easy to make for a lazy Sunday dinner and require just a handful of ingredients, mostly available at home. Chicken wings are marinated in salt, pepper and rice wine or sake. These are then oven-grilled till golden brown. Serve them with a wedge of lemon and a generous sprinkling of Japanese seven spice or Shichimi togarashi.
Japanese chilled tofu (Hiyayakko)
Hiyayakko is an easy Japanese snack recipe that can be whipped up instantly. The velvety smooth texture of tofu makes for a delightful summertime appetiser that cools down the body. You can be creative with the toppings and seasonings to make your own variations of this recipe. Drizzle some soy sauce over the tofu right before you serve.
This recipe from Master Sushi Chef Hiroyuki Terada is one of the easiest summertime Japanese snack recipes to make. The edamame is boiled in salted water and then stir-fried with a simple triad of miso, garlic and chilli paste for that fiery kick. Serve it hot and bite into the aromatic and flavourful beans!
Agedashi means lightly fried in Japanese. This recipe is full of flavours from the toppings and seasonings used to generously coat the fried tofu. Tofu is first fried and then soaked in delicious Dashi sauce to enhance its taste. Garnish it with grated radish and green onions for some extra zing.
Miso eggplant with pickled vegetables (Nasu Dengaku)
Nasu Dengaku means grilled eggplant over a fire. It’s a classic Japanese snack made with eggplants and brushed with sweet miso glaze. This vegan appetiser is great to make if you are short on time. As you start searing eggplants, make sure to brush savoury miso glaze on the top and then bake them for 15 minutes. Your miso eggplant is ready to be served on a bed of rice; garnish it with pickled vegetables.