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Perfect for Beginners! Top 5 Japanese and Western Food Recipes in Japan to Try at Home

Why not make your favorite Japanese foods in the comfort of your own home? This article introduces recipes that you can use to bring a taste of Japan to your kitchen.

1. Karaage

"Karaage" is a dish that stimulates your senses with the aroma of soy sauce and the taste of moist, juicy chicken. It is a dish often made at home, but as the kids love it, it is always gone in an instant!

Ingredients
Serves 2
・300–400g chicken thighs
・10g (approx.) ginger
・3–4 tbsp potato starch (or plain flour)
・Lemon to taste (optional)
Marinade
⁃ 2 tbsp soy sauce
⁃ 1 tbsp sake (or white wine)
・Oil for frying

Directions
1. Dice the chicken into 3–4cm cubes. Grate the ginger with the skin still on.
2. Add the chicken and marinade ingredients to a bowl, then add the squeezed juice from the ginger. Mix the ingredients to make sure the meat is thoroughly coated, and leave to marinate for 20 minutes.
3. Discard all but around ten percent of the marinade juices.
4. Add the potato starch (or plain flour) to the bowl and mix thoroughly.
5. Heat the oil to 170℃, and fry the chicken for 4 minutes on both sides. Increase the temperature to 190℃ and cook for a further minute until the chicken is cooked right through. Add lemon juice to taste.

2. Napolitan

It is thought that the idea for this Japanese Napolitan sauce came from Americans using ketchup to flavor their spaghetti in the 1940s. Although it takes its name from Napoli, this isn’t an Italian dish but a Japanese original! The dish tastes best made with thicker spaghetti noodles that are between 1.8 and 2.2mm thick, to complement the thick ketchup.

Ingredients
Serves 2
・160g spaghetti
・4 Vienna sausages
・1/4 onion
・2 green peppers
For the Sauce
⁃ 1 tsp crushed garlic
⁃ 4 tbsp ketchup
⁃ 1/4 tsp salt
・A little oil

Directions
1. Finely chop the onion, sausages, and peppers.
2. Boil the spaghetti.
3. Heat a little oil in a frying pan, and fry the onion, sausage, and pepper in that order.
4. Add the sauce ingredients followed by the boiled spaghetti noodles. When the sauce is mixed in with all of the ingredients, the dish is ready.

3. Tempura

If you follow the instructions correctly, even an absolute beginner can make great tempura. The trick to getting perfectly fried tempura is to not mix the batter too much. Mix the batter too much, and it will become sticky and ruin the texture. Make sure you mix the ingredients quickly and fry the batter while it is still cold.

Ingredients (Refrigerate all ingredients before cooking.)
Serves 2
・Shrimp, onion, eggplant, sweet potato
・1 egg
・200ml chilled water
・140g flour (finely-milled is best)
・Cooking oil

Directions
1. Prepare the filling ingredients.
Shrimp: Remove the head and devein. To prevent the oil from splashing when cooking the shrimp, chop off the ends of the tail and draw out the moisture using the back of a knife. Peel the shell from the whole shrimp leaving a section of the tail. In up to three places, make diagonal incisions in the shrimp.
Onions: Remove the skin, and cut into round slices 1cm thick.
Eggplants: Remove the stem. Cut into four equal pieces lengthwise. Then with each piece, leave 2cm attached at the top, and cut 4 slices vertically of about 5mm in width, and open out the slices to look like a fan.
Sweet potato: With the skin still on, cut into 1cm wide round slices and soak in water for 10 minutes then dry.
2. Lightly cover all of the prepared ingredients in flour (extra to that specified in the recipe).
3. Add the egg and cold water to a bowl and mix well.
4. Then, to make the batter, add the flour and lightly mix as if making a cross shape. It's fine if not all of the flour has mixed in.
5. One by one, immerse your prepared ingredients in the batter and deep-fry in oil that has been heated to 160℃
*In Japan, tempura is eaten with salt and a tempura dipping sauce (mirin, soy sauce, dried bonito flakes, and water simmered together), but if you can’t get hold of the ingredients for the sauce, just salt is fine.

4. Tonkatsu

With its thick cuts of pork deep fried in breadcrumbs, tonkatsu is a must-try dish for many visitors to Japan. Of course, it is well loved among the Japanese, too. Pork sold especially for tonkatsu in Japan is generally around 1.5cm thick, but if you can get it, meat between 2 and 2.5cm thick is even better. It also tastes great between two slices of bread for a katsu sandwich!

Ingredients (Get the meat out of the refrigerator 15 minutes before cooking.)
Serves 4
・4 slices of thick pork loin meat (1 slice should be around 100g)
・A little salt
・A little pepper
・1 egg
・6 tbsp flour
・2 cups of breadcrumbs
・Oil for frying

Directions
1. Use a knife to make cuts in the tendon between the fat and red meat. Season with salt and pepper on both sides.
2. Put the flour, beaten egg, and breadcrumbs for coating in three individual trays. Coat the pork slices in flour, removing any excess.
3. Dip the pork slices in the beaten egg, then lay in the breadcrumbs and cover with breadcrumbs on top. Firmly hold either side of the pork in your hands to make the breadcrumbs stick, and get rid of excess breadcrumbs. Leave for around 5 minutes.
4. Deep fry for around 5 minutes in oil that has been heated to 170℃ and your dish is ready.
*Tonkatsu sauce is readily available in Japan, but if you can't get hold of it, you can make your own.
Ingredients for the Sauce
・4 tbsp soy sauce
・3 tbsp sugar
・2 tbsp vinegar
・2 tbsp BBQ sauce
・1 tbsp ketchup
・1 tsp flavor enhancer (if available)

How to Make the Sauce

5. Omurice

Another popular option for tourists is omurice—rice flavored with ketchup wrapped in a lightly fried omelet. When making it at home, a good tip is to add plenty of butter to the pan before frying. It will stop the egg from sticking to the pan as well as adding an extra salty, buttery taste to the omelet.

Ingredients
Serves 2
・4 eggs
・300g cooked rice that is still hot
・80g chicken thigh
・1/4 onion
・2 tbsp each of finely chopped parsley and milk
・Butter, salt, pepper, ketchup, salad oil as necessary.

Directions
1. Make the rice with chicken. Dice the chicken and onion into 1.5cm cubes and fry in a frying pan. Season the cooked rice with a little salt and pepper and put everything in the frying pan.
2. Add 4 tbsp of tomato ketchup. When everything is mixed together, add the parsley and place everything in an appropriately-sized bowl.
3. (Make one portion at a time.) Break two eggs into a bowl, add the tablespoon of milk and salt, and mix well.
4. Cover the surface of the frying pan with the eggs and when they are just cooked, turn off the heat. Just in front of the frying pan, shape half of the chicken and rice mixture into a rugby ball shape.
5. Cover the prepared chicken and rice with the underside of the omelette and the dish is ready.

This article has given you some basic recipes for everyday Japanese dishes. See what ingredients you can get hold of in your own country, and try your own take on each dish!

*Please note that the information in this article is from the time of writing or publication and may differ from the latest information.

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