Typical Japanese home-style dishes
Misoshiru - Miso Soup
Misoshiru is the most commonly eaten Japanese soup. Tofu, vegetables and many other ingredients are cooked in dashi, then a teaspoonful of miso for each portion is added at the end. The taste of misoshiru varies from home to home as many different combinations of dashi - whether made with katsuo (bonito), konbu (kelp) or iriko (dried small fish) - and miso (akamiso or shiromiso) - are possible. Tofu and wakeme seaweeds are perhaps the most popular ingredients. However most vegetables, such as carrots, potatoes, onions, daikon radish, aubergine and various fungi, or eggs and thinly-sliced pork, are possible. As each home has its favourite combination of dashi, miso and other ingredients, misoshiru is often called "mother’s special flavour".
Sumashijiru - Clear Soup
Clear soup relies very much on a basic stock dashi for its delicious flavour, which enhanced by fresh ingredients that reflect the current season.
Kenchinjiru - Vegetable Chowder
This chowder is a type of Buddhist temple food, which is known for its wholesome, nourishing vegetable dishes prepared with basic ingredients. Coarsely crumbled tofu, daikon radish, carrot, burdock root, and taro combine to make a thick and filling soup. The ingredients are first sautéed in oil, then simmered slowly until the flavors have blended. This nutritious soup can also serve as main dish.
Niku-jaga - Simmered potatoes and beef
This is one of the most popular home-style dishes in Japan. It is prepared with a simmering method where the ingredients are cooked in a broth at low heat until the liquid has been reduced, then the pan is shaken gently to baste the ingredients with the remaining liquid.
A drop-lid, a round, flat board slightly smaller than the cooking pot, is nested diectly on top of the simmering ingredients, which helps them retain their shape and better absorb the flavours from the broth.
Ohitashi - Boiled Spinach Salad
Sunomono - Vinegared Salad (Cucumber and Wakame Seaweed)
The deciding factor of any vinegared salad is the type of vinegar used. Because of its mild flavour, rice vinegar is always a good choice. This dish is best if prepared just before serving.
Namasu - Marinated Salad of shredded / Julienne Daikon and Carrot
This salad is popular during the New Year holidays, when cooking is kept to a minimum. The vinegar used in the marinade allows the dish to keep well an gives it a tangy, refreshing flavour.
Hiyayakko - Chilled Tofu
Made from soybeans, tofu is an easily digestible health food. In the days when meat-bades meals were rare, tofu was an important source of protein in the Japanese diet. The tofu merchant would make evening rounds on a bicycle, drawing out families armed with tofu containers. The condiments used in this recipe all enhance the taste of tofu by adding aroma and pungency.
Toriniku no tatsuta-age - Marinated Fried Chicken
The chicken pieces are marinated in a combination of sake and soy sauce to enliven the colour and flavour, then coated with potato starch before frying. The resulting morsels are crisp and aromatic.
Chikuzen-ni - Braised Chicken and vegetables
This dish gets even tastier as time passes, making it well-suited for picnics and parties. Lotus and burdock roots have been long-time favourites in Japan because of their crunchy texture and high fibre content. Sautéing the ingredients before adding the simmering liquid allows them to retain their full flavour.
Chawanmushi - Savoury Custard
This popular dish is normally prepared with a special steamer, but these are not easily available outside of Japan. The trick to this dish is not to beat the eggs too much (stop before they become frothy) and to strain them together with the dashi.
Atsuyaki-Tamago - Layered Omelette
This slightly sweet traditional omelette is served at sushi bars and as an hors d'oeuvre, and also frequently appears in boxed meals. It is usually made with a special square pan in order to get a consistent thickness and straight edges on the finished roll, but a regular frying pan can also be used. The frying technique is a bit different from that used to make a Western omelette and may take some practice.