Japanese Recipes Index

I like to eat and cook Japanese food!  In college I did a home-stay with a Japanese family in Tokyo and learned a lot about Japanese cooking from my host mother, whose nightly dinners felt like eating in a restaurant!

Easy Vegetarian Sushi Maki

Many people think that all sushi is complicated and requires raw fish.  I like making simple vegetarian style sushi at home which means I don't have to worry about getting super fresh fish.  Pair veggie maki (sushi roll) with tamago-yaki (rolled omelet), and vegetarian miso soup, for a vegetarian sushi meal. In the summer, add some Japanese salads, like blanched spinach or daikon salad. Or set up a sushi rolling party and let the guests pick and roll their own fillings.
1. Make sushi rice, see these instructions.

2. Toast nori over gas flame for 30 seconds, moving the nori over the flame as if you were painting a watercolor painting. (some nori comes pre-toasted, so check the package)

3. Cut the fillings to long thin strips (if applicable). You want them to be in uniform pieces and easy to line up inside the sushi.  Here are some ideas for vegetarian fillings:

  • Avocado
  • Cucumber
  • Carrot shreds
  • Daikon sprouts
  • Watercress

4. Assembly: Place nori on a sushi rolling mat. Look at the diagram below. You want to place the cooked sushi rice on the bottom portion of the nori, but about 1 inch away from the bottom of the nori. Notice that we've made a bed of rice that's about 3 inches wide (it does not extend to cover all the nori).
Place the filling in the center of the bed of rice.
Roll up using the bamboo mat.

Use a little water on your finger to seal nori shut. (like an envelope)

5. Moisten a very sharp knife with a wet towel, such that the knife is a bit damp but not dripping.  Slice the sushi roll into 1.25 inch rounds. Make sure you wipe the knife clean between cuts otherwise the last cuts get mushy.

6. Serve on a platter with a little soy sauce for dipping. Get out chopsticks and enjoy!

Japanese Nabe (hot pot soup)

Was inspired by this sukiyaki recipe with this nabemono recipe.


Make dashi ahead of time.

When ready to start making nabe, bring dashi up to temp.
Add 1/4 C sake, 2 TB sugar and 1/4 - 1/2 C good soy sauce to dashi.

Meanwhile, coat the inside of pot with sweet white or yellow miso

Slice thinly and place in bundles in the pan:
daikon radish
onion or tokyo negi (naga negi)
cabbage or napa cabbage
mushrooms (chanterelle, enoki, shiitake, cremini or any kind you find)

Add to the pot:
konnyaku or kelp noodles (traditionally, families will serve these at the end to help sop up the leftover broth)
broiled or extra firm tofu (frozen, thawed and cut into chunks- see freezer method for tofu)

Pour hot dashi sauce over the top of the veggies and stuff. Cover and simmer over low heat for 10 minutes or until cooked through.

Right before serving, stir in chopped greens like spinach or chrysanthemum (shungiku) and let wilt in the hot liquid. Serve hot.


Favorite Fall Soups: Red lentil and tomato soup with Apple and Indian Spices

I've been making variations of this Muligatawny inspired soup for a while, it is a big winner in my family. I love that it can be made with pantry staples, it's really tasty, and it's vegan. Even my dad (who hates anything curry) likes this soup, despite it's Indian roots.

Here's the latest variation in how I'm making this soup these days.

1 yellow or white onion
2-3 carrots
1 large apple
Optionally, you can chop up other veggies to add, like zucchini or bell pepper.

1 TB ginger 
3 cloves garlic

Puree in a blender a few tomatoes, or open a can of diced or crushed tomatoes.

Open a can or box of coconut milk.

Saute the onion and carrot with olive oil and salt until it softens.

Add the apples and any other veggies and cook until they soften a little bit, 3-5 minutes. You can add a tablespoon of water if the pan gets too dry.

Then add ginger, garlic and the following spices, stirring for about 60 seconds until it is fragrant:
3/4 tsp ground cumin
3/4 tsp ground coriander
1/2 tsp turmeric
pinch black pepper

Now add the tomatoes (either from can or blender) and stir.

Add 1 C red lentils (masoor dal). If you need more water to cover the lentils (depends on how watery your tomatoes were), then add more water.

Cover and cook on a low simmer until the lentils are soft, 20-25 minutes.

Finally pour in the coconut milk and warm through. Season with more salt if needed.

Serve over a bed of cooked basmati rice, or with cornbread.


Chris' Banana Chunk Oat Almond Cookies (vegan, gluten free)

Made a non-chocolate version of these today, and had bananas around, so I gave this a try.  Holy crap- incredible! I'm a chocolate lover, and even I think these might be better than the original. 

Can be doubled. Dough can be refrigerated. 


Mix up 1 TB flaxmeal and 3 TB water as your flax egg.

Preheat oven 350 F

1/4 C coconut oil
1/4 C nut butter
1/4 to 1/2 C sugar (white or brown). 1/4 C is slightly not sweet enough, 3/8 C is probably just about right for my taste. 

Now add flax egg and 1 tsp vanilla and combine

Now add:
0.5 tsp baking soda
0.5 tsp baking powder
scant 0.5 tsp salt
1 C oat flour (blend oats in food processor or high speed blender until fine to make oat flour)
1 C almond flour

Fold in 1 banana, diced. 

Shape into balls on cookie sheet and bake 11-13 minutes at 350 F.


Easy Pineapple Teriyaki Sauce

This is great, and doesn't use up as much soy sauce as the traditional Japanese versions of teriyaki. It works great in stir fries where you'll use it to coat veggies, tofu or chicken.  My parents were hooked on bottled teriyaki sauces, which often have corn syrup or additives-- I think this is easy enough to make in batch to keep on hand instead of store-bought sauce.


Combine in a saucepan, bring to a boil:
2 C water
1/2 C soy sauce
1/4 C - 1/2 C brown sugar (decide how much based on how sweet you want it)
2 TB agave or maple syrup
few cloves crushed garlic
1 tsp microplane minced ginger root

Meanwhile, in a small bowl, mix up 2 TB cornstarch and 1/4 C cold water. Set aside.

Open a can of crushed pineapple.

Once the sauce pan is boiling, slowly stir in the cornstarch slurry while stirring. Add 1/4 C crushed pineapple, take off heat.

You can keep this sauce in the fridge, which is handy as this makes a lot of sauce!


Vegan Nut butter Oat Chocolate Chip Cookies (gluten free)

These are really good, and they are gluten free and vegan. Just beware of any nut allergies, as these are full of nut butter.  I've adapted it from the incredible Oh She Glows.  Made these for a party and they were a hit!


Mix up 1 TB flaxmeal and 3 TB water as your flax egg.

Preheat oven 350 F

Beat until combined:
1/4 C coconut oil
1/4 C nut butter

Add and beat 1 minute more:
3 TB brown sugar
1/4 C white sugar

Now add flax egg and 1 tsp vanilla and combine

Now add:
0.5 tsp baking soda
0.5 tsp baking powder
0.5 tsp salt
1 C oat flour (blend oats in food processor or high speed blender until fine to make oat flour)
1 C almond flour

Fold in 1/3 C chocolate chips.

Shape into balls on cookie sheet and bake 11-13 minutes at 350 F.


Chocolate Almond Pulp Cookies with lucuma or maca

I've been making these cookies quite a bit! They use up the leftover almond pulp from making almond milk (2 C water and 1 C almonds, blended and strained).  These are a great breakfast cookie as they are pretty starchy and not too sweet.  No flour so they are gluten free, and they are vegan.

The lucuma or maca are optional, but are a great way to add superfoods to your diet.  I really like the combination of lucuma and maca with chocolate.


Mash together until combined:
1 C almond pulp (from making almond milk)
1/4 C cocoa powder
optional 1 - 2 TB lucuma or maca powder
1/2 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp baking powder
1/4 tsp salt

Now add and mix until combined:
1 TB melted coconut oil
1 TB maple syrup

Pour in some vegan chocolate chips.

If the mixture is too dry, add a tablespoon of almond milk or more maple syrup.

Shape into small flattened balls on a cookie sheet.

Bake at 350 F for 25 -30 minutes or until no longer totally gooey inside.


Gluten free Vegan Blueberry Pancakes (nut-free)

These were quite good, and I didn't have any abnormal sticking to pan problems, beyond that of the blueberries.  It's a double batch based off of this recipe.  Most gluten free recipes use nuts and eggs, so I was surprised how good these were given they are nut-free and egg-free.


Combine and let it set to gel:
2 TB flaxmeal
5 TB water

Mix the liquid ingredients:
2 TB melted coconut oil
2 tsp apple cider vinegar
1-2 TB vanilla extract
1.3 C non dairy milk

Combine the following in a bowl:
1 C brown rice flour
1/2 C tapioca starch
1/2 C potato starch 
2 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp salt

Now combine the liquids and the dry into pancake batter.

Thaw 1 to 1.5 C frozen blueberries.

In a hot pan, melt some coconut oil. Pour some pancake batter into the hot pan, then add a few blueberries on top.

Once done on the bottom, flip pancakes and cook until second side is done.

Enjoy with maple syrup.


Buckwheat Chocolate Granola

After a few years trying to like buckwheat, I think I've finally figured it out.  Buckwheat's mineral-y taste pairs perfectly with chocolate. Pairing it with oats and big coconut shreds helps make the texture a little more fluffy-- buckwheat all by itself is quite dense.

I have made this granola multiple times, and it makes great gifts.  My sister says it reminds her of Cocoa Puffs.  I started with My New Root's recipe, but reduced the sugar and cocoa powder down.

Mix in a big bowl:
3 C oats
1 C buckwheat (raw or toasted/kasha is fine)
1.5 C wide coconut flakes
1 C chopped nuts (walnut, pecan or hazelnut)
1/4 C chia seeds
optional sesame seeds
1/2 tsp fine sea salt

In a smaller bowl or pyrex cup, combine:
1/3 C melted coconut oil
1/3 C maple syrup
2 TB sugar 
1 tsp vanilla extract
1/4 C cocoa powder

Pour the liquids into the bowl with the oats and stir to combine. Make sure you scrape the bottom of the bowl and get it all combined.

Divide the mixture onto two rimmed baking sheets.

Bake at 300F, stirring every 15-20 minutes, until it is done.  You can check doneness by either the coconut flakes or the nuts; toasted but not burnt is what you're looking for.  Total baking time is less than one hour.  I just keep checking on it until it smells and tastes about right.   If you need to leave the house and it's not quite done, you can turn off the oven and leave the granola in there to finish while the oven cools down.