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Master the basics of Japanese cooking with these recipes

From preparing a bento box to cooking katsu curry, these chefs will show you how to cook them all

Japanese food is as delicious as it is versatile. (Photo courtesy: Jakub Dziubak, Unsplash.)
Japanese food is as delicious as it is versatile. (Photo courtesy: Jakub Dziubak, Unsplash.)

Japanese food is renowned for its simplicity. Cooking a typical Japanese meal does not take a lot of time as the main focus is to bring out the maximum flavour of a few ingredients. Here are five recipes to get familiar with the cuisine:

Bento Box

Bento boxes refer to the tiffin boxes that people carry to work, college or school in Japan. The variety of food in these boxes ensures a proper and balanced meal. The choice of food typically includes a salad, steamed vegetables, rice, and eggs or meat. In this video, YouTube channel Cooking with Dog, makes a variation of a bento box which includes meat wrapped eggs in sweet and tangy teriyaki sauce, some sliced oranges, and onigiri¬łor rice balls. While the chef uses a small fish called shirasu to coat the rice balls, sesame seeds can be used. Blanched nanohana leaves can be replaced with spinach or bok choy.

Katsu curry

According to an article published by Homegrown Magazine in 2022, katsu curry is believed to have been brought to Japan by the British from India. British sailors shipwrecked off the Japanese coast were rescued, and with them, they brought curry powder. The Japanese navy adopted this curry and added local flavours to it. Therefore, Japanese curry is made from sweet onions, red chilli pepper, and bay leaf. A typically hearty meal, the curry is best served over some warm rice. YouTuber Kimono Mom shows how to make the dish and also suggests replacements for ingredients which may be hard to find outside of Japan, such as basil for shiso leaf.

Ramen

Ramen consists of wheat noodles served in a broth, most commonly soy sauce. Nearly every region in Japan has its own variation with its unique flavours of toppings and stock. Chef and YouTuber Tanuja Parab cooks ramen with toppings like soy sauce marinated eggs, vegetables, and tofu in this video.

Onigiri

Onigiri, essentially a rice ball, is commonly enjoyed as a quick snack. The rice ball is filled with different types of fillings like sour plum, dried fish, or pickled vegetables. Moulded in a triangular shape, roasted seaweed called nori is wrapped around the rice. The tutorial by YouTuber Tokyo Kitchen shows onigiri with a tuna and mayo filling. While she uses kewpie mayonnaise, which is made only with egg yolks, regular mayonnaise also works well.

Tempura

A fritter-like dish,tempura refers to vegetables or seafood like prawn that has been dipped into a batter consisting of three simple ingredients: flour, eggs, and water. The basics of tempura are shown by YouTube channel HomeCookingShow. The videogives tips on what kind of flour to use to make the crispiest batter possible.

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