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How to cook "with visual instructions" healthy, traditional and delicious Japanese dishes!!


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Seaweed Salad (Oil-Free/Vegan/Vegetarian/Gluten-Free)

I will introduce you to “Seaweed and Cucumber Salad” tossed with vinegar and sugar. It is very healthy and delicious! In Japan, we often eat this dish as a side dish because vinegar improves our appetite. And also dishes which include vinegar keep longer. This dish can keep about 5 days in the refrigerator. This is why Sushi rice is seasoned with vinegar. (Basically in Japan about 800 years ago, Sushi was not an expensive food like nowadays. It was a preservative food for common people. The conception was people put pickled fish on cooked rice and fermented it for a day.)

You can use some other ingredients for this salad recipe, such as seafood, carrot, Daikon, mushrooms, bean sprouts and so on. But seaweed and cucumber are the most popular ingredients in Japan. Cucumber is high in potassium so it is good for modern humans who tend to eat a high-salt diet. If you want to be healthier, it is good to eat more seaweed because seaweed is high in soluble fiber. Exercising and eating healthy is important to a good diet and the most important thing for improving your digestion and the function of your intestines. So if you want to try to be healthier, at first please think about your digestion. You should eat both insoluble fiber (vegetables, potatoes, mushrooms, beans…) and soluble fiber like seaweed to make your bowels work well.

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{Ingredients (servings 2)}

2 Tbsp. Dried Seaweed

A small Cucumber

1 Tbsp. plus 1 cup Water

2 Tbsp. Rice Vinegar

1 tsp. Yamasa Organic Soy Sauce
(Recommended Gluten-Free Soy Sauce)Soy Sauce REDUCED SODIUM [Gluten Free] (Organic)

1 tsp. Sugar

1 tsp. Cooking Sake

A pinch of Salt

White Roasted Sesame Seeds

Please add this healthy side dish to your meals!

Here is my recipe in PDF: Seaweed Salad (Oil-Free)

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Sweet Sesame Dressing (Vegan/Vegetarian/Gluten-Free)

This is a traditional Japanese side dish which dresses boiled spinach with sweet sesame dressing. It is healthy, delicious, easy and a very quick dish.

The dressing contains sesame, soy sauce and sugar, and it has sweet taste so many kids can also enjoy the dish.

The basic arrangement for many Japanese meals is called “Ichi-jiru, San-sai” which consists of one bowl of cooked rice, one kind of soup and three vegetables or fish side dishes, so this is a very common dish in the Japanese diet.

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Enjoy this new healthy side dish!!

{Ingredients (servings 2)}

½ bunch Fresh Spinach

1 Tbsp. Soy Sauce
(Recommended Gluten-Free Soy Sauce)Soy Sauce REDUCED SODIUM [Gluten Free] (Organic)

1 Tbsp. Sugar

1 Tbsp. Mirin Sweet Cooking Rice Wine

1 Tbsp. White Roasted Sesame Seeds

Here is my recipe in PDF: Sweet Sesame Dressing


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Very Flavorful!! “Asparagus with Bacon”

This is a common recipe for bacon-wrapped asparagus in Japan. We wrap a cut asparagus with a piece of bacon. The dish is usually pan-fried or grilled. You will often see bacon-wrapped asparagus on a long stick on the menu at Yakitori restaurants in Japan. When making it as a homemade dish, we usually use a toothpick instead of the long stick because it is easy to cook. But be careful about the toothpicks when you and your family eat. Of course you can serve without toothpicks even though the bacon wrap might come off.

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I use turkey bacon in this recipe but you can use any kind of bacon you want. And also if you or your family don’t like using cooking Sake or white wine for the dishes, you can substitute stock or broth for those.

We have this dish as a side dish and we sometimes put it in our lunch boxes.

In Japan, some kindergartens, most elementary schools (1st~6th grade) and some junior high schools (7th~9th grade) serve school lunch. If the school doesn’t have school lunch, we bring boxed lunches (sometimes the school also has a small shop to get lunch). My mother made boxed lunches for me and my sister all the time when our school didn’t serve lunch. We loved her lunch boxes so much!!

This is one of common Japanese school lunch.

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Recently, many Japanese mothers cook very cute lunch box dishes for their kids, which we call “Character Bento”. They decorate their lunch as cartoon’s characters with many ingredients to make their kids happy to eat everything. I really respect the mothers because they get up very early, prepare their family’s breakfast and a wonderful lunch box for their kids (some of them prepare lunch boxes for their husbands as well, not “Character Bento” though), and then many of these mothers get ready to go to their own work!

My Japanese friend made these boxed lunches! It is incredible!!! The 2 pictures are “Character Bento” for her boys. The 3rd one is a normal Bento for family event.

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I recommend this dish with any meal. If you want to have it for breakfast or in a lunch box, you can prepare it the previous day and cook it in the morning, or you can cook it the previous day and microwave in the morning, because the cutting, wrapping and cooking can take a little extra time, especially in the morning.

{Ingredients (servings 2)}

10 Asparagus spears

10 slices Turkey Bacon (any kind of bacon is okay)

A pinch of Salt and Pepper

¼ cup Cooking Sake or white wine

1 Tbsp. Vegetable Oil

Here is my recipe in PDF (5 MB): Asparagus with Bacon


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Delicious Braised Eggplant (Vegan/Vegetarian/Gluten-Free)

Following the previous post “This is what I call a great traditional Japanese dish!”,

https://japanese-food.org/2015/11/05/this-is-what-i-call-a-great-traditional-japanese-dish/

I will introduce you to one more traditional Japanese vegetable side dish which is called “Braised Eggplant”. This is also from Buddhist cuisine. It is very delicious, healthy and low-calorie!

If you like eggplant, I highly recommend you try this! You can enjoy the flavorful, tender, and yummy eggplant. The recipe is very easy and very traditional. I simmer eggplant in Japanese Dashi stock, soy sauce, cooking Sake and Mirin. If you like the flavor in Japanese dishes  you should keep soy sauce, cooking Sake, Mirin and Dashi stock on hand (here is my Dashi stock recipe in PDF: Homemade Anchovy Dashi StockKelp Dashi stock ) (also some Asian markets carry useful Dashi stock powder). If you want to try more healthy dishes but you are not a big fan of Japanese flavors, you can just simmer the eggplant in vegetable stock and season with a pinch of salt and pepper. This is also a healthy and low-calorie dish. Unfortunately, however, if you cook it this way you will not get the protein that we get from soy sauce. In fact, my family doesn’t eat soy beans often, we usually get the soy nutrition from soy sauce, Tofu, Miso (soy bean paste), Natto (fermented soy beans), soy milk and so on.

In this recipe, I didn’t peel the eggplant because one of the important nutrients, Anthocyanin (antioxidant), is found in high amounts in eggplant skin. If you don’t like the gooey texture that the skin adds you can peel the eggplant.


{Ingredients (servings 2)}

½ Eggplant

1 cup Kelp Dashi Stock
(Recommended Dried Kelp for Dashi stock) Dashi Dried Kelp

2 Tbsp. Soy Sauce
(Recommended Gluten-Free Soy Sauce)Soy Sauce REDUCED SODIUM [Gluten Free] (Organic)

2 Tbsp. Cooking Sake

2 Tbsp. Mirin Sweet Cooking Rice Wine


Here is my recipe in PDF (4 MB): Braised Eggplant

Here is my “Kelp Dashi Stock” recipe in PDF: Kelp Dashi stock


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Yummy Japanese “Potato Salad” (Vegetarian)

“Japanese Potato Salad” is a mix of mashed potato, mayonnaise and fresh vegetables. To make the vegetables tender and easy to eat, I knead well with salt or soak in water. This allows us to keep more nutrition in the vegetables than if we boiled them.

In Japan, potato salad is a very common homemade dish and very popular. There are many recipes which vary slightly depending on family traditions. We eat potato salad as a salad and also sometimes in sandwiches.

You can mash the potatoes however you like. If you like chunky potato, please don’t mash too much. And also you can add more potato, or reduce the mayonnaise, to taste. Enjoy!


{Ingredients (servings 3)}

2 large Potatoes

1 Carrot

1 small Cucumber

1 small Onion

6-7 Tbsp. Mayonnaise

1 Tbsp. Salt

½ tsp. Black Pepper

Water for boiling potatoes


Here is my recipe in PDF (4 MB): Potato Salad


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Chicken Tenderloin with Delicious Plum Sauce! (Gluten-Free)

This is a very easy and tasty traditional side dish. Mainly we eat it in the summer time because it is cold and contains pickled plum.

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Pickled plum (Umeboshi) is a Japanese traditional healthy food. The recipe for pickled plum is to salt fresh plums and then dry them under the sun. Pickled plum has protein, calcium, iron, vitamins and so on. We eat it very often, but especially when we feel tired, we have a sore throat, and most importantly when we want to prevent heat stroke while outside in summer time. Pickled plum also has antibacterial effect so we sometimes put it on rice in our lunch box to keep the rice from going bad.

This plum sauce contains sesame seeds so it is a very nutritious and flavorful sauce. You can use this sauce for other meat or fish dishes. And if you add olive oil to the sauce, you can use it as a dressing for your salads.

Chicken tenderloin has great taste and nutrition. It doesn’t take much time to cook but if you over cook it, the meat will be hard. In this recipe, I show how to get tender chicken tenderloin. If you use this method, you can always get good tender chicken for any of your  dishes.

Enjoy this divine chicken dish!!


{Ingredients (servings 2)}

3 pieces Chicken Tenderloin

3 Pickled Plums

2 tsp. White Roasted Sesame Seeds

1 tsp. Soy Sauce
(Recommended Gluten-Free Soy Sauce)Soy Sauce REDUCED SODIUM [Gluten Free] (Organic)

1 tsp. Cooking Sake

Boiled Water (for boiling tenderloin)


Here is my recipe in PDF (4 MB): Chicken Tenderloin with Plum Sauce


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Grated Japanese Yam (Vegan/Vegetarian/Gluten-Free)

This recipe is just grated Japanese yam. Japanese sometimes eat grated yam by itself, pour it on steamed rice, or put it on noodles, and so on.

Japanese yam is a very nutritious vegetable as I told at https://japanese-food.org/2015/05/12/japanese-yam-salad/

The yam has a sticky texture because of Mucin, one of it’s ingredients. Especially when the yam is grated, the texture become more smooth and sticky, and this sticky texture gives our bodies some great benefits, such as protecting our mucous membranes in the stomach, protecting our body from some viruses and so on. Mucin is a soluble fiber and helps keep water in our cells.

Traditionally, people say the grated Japanese yam loosened phlegm, so I used to eat it when I caught a cough. Additionally, the yam is easy to digest so it is good food when you are sick.

It is easy, simple and quick. Nothing difficult. Just grate the yam and mix with some Japanese Dashi stock.


{Ingredients (servings 2)}

5-inch length Japanese Yam

¼ cup Kelp Dashi Stock
(Recommended Dried Kelp for Dashi stock) Dashi Dried Kelp

A splash of Soy Sauce
(Recommended Gluten-Free Soy Sauce)Soy Sauce REDUCED SODIUM [Gluten Free] (Organic)

⅛ tsp. Japanese Wasabi Paste
(Recommended Gluten-Free Wasabi Powder)Organic Seasoning Wasabi Powder


Here is my recipe in PDF (3 MB): Japanese Yam

Here is “Kelp Dashi Stock” recipe in PDF: Kelp Dashi stock