In Japan, rice has a rich history which dates back over 2000 years. It’s a staple in many traditional dishes and has become an important part of Japanese food culture.
Right now you might not be able to get to Japan for some of your favorite dishes, but that doesn’t mean you can’t still enjoy some exquisite Japanese cuisine from the comfort of your home.
We’ve asked around some Japanese food lovers living abroad for their favorite recipes for Japanese rice dishes, so you can make them at home too. Oh and don’t worry, we’ve been sure to include a vegan option!
Katsudon is a staple of Japanese cuisine. The name katsudon comes from ‘katsu’ and ‘donburi’, which combines to mean a pork cutlet served in a bowl of rice topped with simmered ingredients. Every region of Japan has a different way of making katsudon, which includes a variation of the topping ingredients, although pork and rice are always a mainstay, but this is how Mindy from Australia makes it abroad!
Katsudon is often eaten by students before big events, as ‘katsu’ can also mean ‘to win’ in Japanese.
- 3 large eggs
- 1/3 cup dashi (or chicken stock)
- 2 tsp granulated sugar
- 1 tbsp soy sauce
- 1 tbsp sake
- 1/4 tsp potato starch
- 2 tsp vegetable oil
- 90g onion (about 1/2 small thinly sliced)
- 380g Tonkatsu (1 very thick pork cutlet or 2 thinner ones)
- 1 scallion (chopped, for garnish)
- 2 bowls cooked short-grain rice
1. Trim off the fat from the pork loins and use a mallet to thin out. Wash with water and marinate with salt, black pepper and coat it with plain flour.
2. In another pan, break two eggs and whisk it.
3. Dip the pork into the egg then into the breadcrumbs repeatedly. Set it aside, put oil in a pan and let it heat up.
4. Wash the amount of rice you want and then put equal parts water.
5. While the rice is cooking, your oil should be hot enough. Dip a chopstick inside and if you see bubbles around it, your oil is ready.
6. Place your pork inside gently, continuously moving it around so it cooks evenly. Every two minutes, flip it over and move it around. When it's done and evenly coated, put it over a paper towel or rack to let it rest.
7. Chop up onions and caramelize it with oil in a pan. Add in some cooking sake, dashi, mirin, light soy sauce, pepper and less than a cup of water.
8. Add in some more sushi seasoning and bonito flakes to rice. If it looks overcooked, it’s fine.
9. Chop up your pork and place it inside the pan. Let it cook for 2 minutes. Whip up a couple of eggs with cut spring onions and pour it all around (and over) the pork. Cover it for 3 minutes, turn the fire off and let it rest for 5 minutes.
10. Plate your dish up with the rice, then put your pork/onions/eggs on top. The liquid from the egg and various flavors will soak into the rice giving it an amazing flavor.
Recipe from: Mindy, Australia
2. Vegan Cha Han
Chahan, sometimes known as ‘yakimeshi’, is a dish made up of rice stir-fried with eggs, vegetables and sauces. As you might tell from the name, chahan actually originated in China, but was later brought to Japan during the 1800s. Chahan is a common dish in Japanese households due to its simplicity and number of variations. It’s the perfect meal to create from leftovers.
Here, Charlotte wanted to try her own version so that the delicious dish was available to vegans, too!
- 1 block firm tofu, diced into cubes
- 3 tbsp of soy sauce
- 1/4 tsp garlic powder, or more to your taste
- Rapeseed oil, or other neutral oil of your choosing
- 250g (1 1/4 cups) white or brown long-grain rice
- 250g (3 cups) button chestnut mushrooms, stalks trimmed and halved
- 150g mangetout (1 cup prepared), ends trimmed and chopped into bitesize pieces
- 100g sweetcorn (1 cup)
- 5 spring onions, whites chopped into bitesize pieces, with greens reserved for garnish
- salt as needed
- 4 tbsp soy sauce
- 3 tbsp of maple syrup
- 1 tbsp toasted sesame oil
- 1 tbsp rice vinegar
- 1/2 tsp garlic powder
- 1/2 tsp salt
- Pinch of pepper
1. Cook rice according to package instructions. Once cooked, drain, cover and set aside. Continue with other steps in the meantime.
2. In a small bowl, mix together the soy sauce and garlic powder. Add the diced tofu to the bowl and coat well.
3. In a large frying pan or wok, heat 1 tbsp of oil over high heat. Add the tofu and cook, turning frequently, until golden brown. Set the tofu aside in a dish lined with paper to absorb the excess oil.
4. In the same pan used to cook the Tofu, adding a little extra oil if needed, cook the Mushrooms, Mangetout, Sweetcorn and a pinch of Salt over high heat for 4-5 minutes, stirring frequently.
5. While the vegetables are cooking, mix together the ingredients for the sauce in a bowl.
6. Add the Spring Onion Whites and continue to cook for another 3-5 minutes or until the vegetables are cooked to your preference.
7. Add the rice to the pan and mix well with the vegetables. Add the Tofu and sauce and mix well. Cook through until everything is hot.
8. Serve with Spring Onion greens sprinkled on top.
Recipe from: Charlotte, England
This tasty combination arose in Japan from a fusion between Japanese and western flavors. The word omurice comes ‘omlette’ and ‘rice’ and that’s exactly what the dish is. An airy omelette draped over chicken fried rice, topped with a stream of tomato ketchup to give it its distinctive sweet taste. An omurice can be prepared in around 30 minutes for a quick and easy dish that's full of Japanese flavor. Here's how Hannah makes it outside of Japan.
- 450g chicken strips cut into cubes
- 4.5 c cooked short grain rice
- 1/2 large onion diced
- 2/3 cup mixed veg - corn, peas, carrots (can use frozen)
- 2.5 tbsp vegetable oil
- 1/2 tbsp sesame oil
- 1 tbsp soy sauce
- 3 tbsp oyster sauce
- 1 tsp grated ginger
- 1 tsp minced garlic
- 1/3 c ketchup
- Black pepper and salt to taste
- Red pepper flakes to taste
- 3 eggs
- 1 tbsp cream
- 1 pinch salt and pepper
- 1 tbsp butter
1. Add 1 tbsp of the vegetable oil and your onion and mixed veg to a medium nonstick skillet. Saute until translucent/thawed.
2. Add cubed chicken, salt, pepper, ginger, and garlic and another tbsp of veggie oil and cook until chicken is cooked through.
3. Add your cooked rice and mix it in, letting it sit and get a bit crispy while you add the remaining 1/2 tbsp veggie oil, sesame oil, oyster sauce, soy sauce, red pepper flakes, and ketchup.
4. Stir it all in and let everything meld for a few before taking off heat.
5. Beat eggs with cream and salt and pepper. Heat skillet with tbsp of butter.
6. Pour in egg and let cook until slightly soft on the top but fully set on the bottom. Slide over rice.
7. Top with more ketchup, black sesame seeds, and sliced green onion.
Recipe from: Hannah, United States
4. Japanese Curry Rice
Curry rice, or ‘kare raisu’ is the national dish in Japan! It can be made with different meats, but the most popular is beef. Unlike Indian curries, it’s thicker and milder and can be catered to your particular tastes by using different sauces. It’s complimented with sticky rice and vegetables, making it a simple and effective dish that can be made with ease. Fernanda's recipe uses tomato sauce and her own choice of curry powder, but you can easily make this with store-bought curry roux, too!
- 500g of meat (could be chicken breast or pork)
- 3 potatoes
- 3 onions
- 2 carrots
- 2 tbsp of Worcestershire sauce
- 1 tbsp of tomato sauce
- 2 tbsp of any curry powder
- Onion powder (2 tbsp), garlic powder (1 tsp) and 2 bay leaf to season the meat
- 5 tbsp of wheat flour
1. Chop the ingredients (meat, potatoes, onions, carrots) into medium-sized pieces and put aside.
2. Season chopped meat with onion powder, garlic powder, bay leaf, Worcestershire sauce and tomato sauce and cook well for 15 minutes in a small amount of oil.
3. Put all the ingredients except flour together in the pan, cover it with water and cook until the ingredients turn tender.
4. Dissolve the wheat flour in some water and put together into pan to thicken it to your desired consistency.
Have these inspired you to get cooking, or experiment with your own flavors? Although you may not be able to get your hands on all the traditional ingredients available in Japan, these recipes show there are plenty of ways to adapt!
*Prices and options mentioned are subject to change.
*Unless stated otherwise, all prices include tax.
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