Always wanted to try your hand at making Japanese food but feeling intimidated by it? It’s true that some Japanese dishes take a lot of time and ingredients to make but the truth is most of them don’t. I grew up watching my mother create simple Japanese meals with only the basic ingredients found in traditional Japanese pantries. I’m talking about rice, soy sauce, sake, mirin, miso paste, dashi, nori and rice vinegar.

  1. Awase miso paste – Awase is a mix of white and red miso paste. I like the balance of sweet and salty this type of miso offers.
  2. Mirin – Mirin is sweeter than rice vinegar and is primarily used for cooking (not for salad dressings.)
  3. Soy sauce – This salty, earthy liquid lends the umami flavor we have come to associate with Asian foods.
  4. Sake – Just as Italians and French use wine to add depth and flavor to many dishes, the Japanese use sake in the same way. Often called rice wine, sake can round out the flavors of a dish and add a subtle sweetness to them.
  5. Rice vinegar – Mild, sweet vinegar made from rice and used in a variety of ways – from pickling, vinaigrettes to simmering.
  6. Rice – Rice is everything in Japanese cuisine. Most of what is produced for consumption is called hakumai – or polished white rice. It is the foundation of Japanese cooking, served with nearly every meal.
  7. Dashi – Dashi is the base stock used in simmered dishes, broths and – most famously, some versions of miso soup.
  8. Nori – Nori is commonly used as a flavor agent, a garnish in soups and noodle dishes, or as a wrap for sushi and onigiri.

With these 8 ingredients, you can create a Japanese style dinner your whole family will devour in minutes! Here are 5 easy and tasty Japanese recipes to try over the weekend.

1. Shrimp Ankake Donburi 

This is a simple shrimp and vegetable stir fry tossed in a sweet, savory and gooey sauce you won’t be able to stop eating. Pour the whole thing over steamed white rice and you have just created a classic Japanese meal at your dinner table! GET THE RECIPE


2. Homemade Ramen

You can use fresh noodles or packaged dry ramen noodles for this easy ramen recipe. The soup base is made with chicken stock, a little sake, soy sauce and shiitake mushrooms for a light and fragrant broth. Toppings? Add your favorites such as bamboo shoots, nori sheets and scallions. This makes a great late night snack! GET THE RECIPE


3. Eggplant-Miso Gratin

If you are craving something packed with umami and salty goodness, this is what you need to make this weekend! Creamy and savory, this eggplant-miso gratin is surprisingly light and healthy despite what your tastebuds will lead you to believe! GET THE RECIPE


4. Teriyaki Pork Rolls

Get your kids involved in the kitchen with this fun and delicious recipe! Vegetables sticks are rolled up in thin pork cutlets and cooked with a sweet and smoky teriyaki glaze. Serve with a light green salad for a tasty and healthy meal! GET THE RECIPE


5. Chicken Onigiri (Rice Balls)

This is a childhood favorite of mine! Onigiri, or rice balls, are by far the most popular snack in Japan and it’s easy to see why; they take no time to make, are portable, versatile and such an enjoyable treat to eat. Chicken is used for this recipe but you can swap it for just about anything from salmon to pickles, bonito flakes, cucumber or even kimchi! GET THE RECIPE


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