During my college year abroad I did a homestay with a Japanese family in Takasaki, a city about 100 kilometers from Tokyo. In the evenings, I would sit at the table chatting to my homestay mother while she prepared that evening’s meal in her small, Japanese kitchen—where the most important appliance was the electric rice cooker followed by a small electric grill rather than the gas oven I knew from home. The food was always delicious and I was surprised how she could prepare a vast range of dishes from scratch with minimal fuss. I became fascinated with Japanese food and, without realizing it, began my journey to becoming a Japanese home cook.
After graduating, I returned to Japan to work as an English teacher, ending up in a beautiful rural village called Nishiyama in Niigata Prefecture. I got involved in different clubs and activities, immersing myself in the local culture—and by extension, the food. At calligraphy classes the elderly women attending shared their cooking tips with me, while farmer friends in the hiking club would give me harvested vegetables and rice along with a recipe for me to try.
The two recipes I’m sharing with you here were mastered in my kitchen in Nishiyama. Today, they are staple recipes in my kitchen in Ireland.
Salmon Teriyaki Recipe
Without exception, everyone loves this salmon teriyaki recipe — it’s one of the most talked about recipes at my cooking classes. It’s definitely worth learning how to make teriyaki sauce from scratch and adding it to your kitchen recipe collection as it can also be used to flavor meat, chicken and vegetables.
- Vegetable oil (植物油)
- 2 fillets salmon (鮭)
- Handful of sesame seeds to garnish (ゴマ)
For the teriyaki sauce
- 4 tablespoons soy sauce (しょうゆ)
- 2 tablespoons sake (日本酒)
- 2 tablespoons mirin (みりん)
- 1 teaspoon sugar/honey (砂糖/蜂蜜)
1. Combine all the ingredients for the teriyaki sauce, mix well and set aside.
2. Pour a little vegetable oil into a non-stick frying pan on a medium to high heat.
3. Place the salmon fillets (skin-side down) on the frying pan and sear both sides of the fish.
4. When the fish is nearly cooked (place the salmon fillets skin-side down at this point) pour the teriyaki sauce over it.
5. Use a large spoon to continually pour the sauce over the fish fillets while continuing to fry.
6. Fry until the teriyaki sauce is reduced to the consistency of a syrup.
7. Garnish with sesame seeds.
Tip: Keep a close eye on the teriyaki sauce as it can quickly reduce on a high heat and start to burn.
Wakame and Tofu Miso Soup Recipe
When I lived in Japan I had miso soup almost every day. So, when I returned to Ireland, I really missed the taste of authentic miso soup. I could buy sachets in Asian supermarkets or order it in Asian restaurants but none of them compared to this simple recipe that you can make yourself.
Kombu and Shiitake Dashi (Kelp and Shiitake Stock)
Makes 1 liter
- 1 liter water
- 20g dried kombu – a piece about the size of a postcard (昆布)
- 3 dried shiitake mushrooms (しいたけ)
1. Put 1 liter of cold water in a large saucepan.
2. Add the kombu and shiitake mushrooms to the water and leave to soak for at least 30 minutes. If you have time, leave to soak for a few hours or overnight in the fridge. This will fill the water with the flavors and nutrients from both the seaweed and the mushrooms.
3. Heat the water until it comes to the boil and then remove the kombu and mushrooms immediately.
4. This can be stored in the fridge for several days or you can freeze it.
Tip: This is an ideal stock for vegetarians. You can also make dashi using kelp only or replace the shiitake mushrooms with katsuobushi (dried fish flakes).
- 1 liter dashi (だし)
- 1 tablespoon dried wakame seaweed (ワカメ)
- 300g tofu, cut into bite-size cubes (豆腐)
- 2–3 tablespoons miso paste (味噌)
- Spring (green) onion, finely diced, to garnish (春タマネギ)
- Shichimi togarashi (spice blend) to season (七味唐辛子)
1. Heat the dashi in a large saucepan.
2. Once the dashi is boiling add the wakame seaweed and reduce the heat so that the dashi is simmering.
3. Gently toss the tofu pieces into the saucepan.
4. Dilute the miso paste in a small cup of dashi taken from the saucepan, then add to the saucepan and gently stir into the soup until mixed through.
5. To serve, pour the miso soup into a bowl. Then garnish with the onion and shichimi togarashi.
Wow this recipe was spot on! Thank you 🙂
Hello Philip, honestly this is one of my most loved Japanese dishes. It’s like a comfort food. It’s just so tasty. I make this at home for my family and there’s never any leftovers! Take care Fiona
My favorite Japanese recipe is Melon Pan. I make them at home all the time. My kids love them. I take them to school with me for lunch. They are very good. My whole family loves the sweet and soft texture of them. The recipe only makes nine so they go fast.
Hello Diane, ohh melon pan!! Delicious! Thanks for sharing your story too. Fiona 🙂
My favourite Japanese recipe to cook at home is so simple and easy. I boil some soba noodles, refresh with cold water when they’re done, pour over some Mentsuyu or similar dressing, and top with flaked salmon (precooked or leftover), toasted sesame seeds, shredded dried seaweed and perhaps a sprinkle of bonito flakes… yum!
Having lived in Japan for 3 years when I was younger, I find myself longing for home-cooked Japanese food often. I have a dedicated shelf in my pantry for Japanese ingredients and just love to create flavours that take me back to Japan!
Hello Erin thanks for commenting. You’re favourite Japanese recipe sounds delicious and filled with umami. I love bonito flakes 🙂 Looking forward to hearing more about your Japanese home cooking. Fiona
I would have to say one of my favorite Japanese recipes that I found is Shoga Yaki pork. But I would cherish having this book cause it’s not always easy to find awesome Japanese recipes online.
Congratulations Tania, you’ve been chosen as the lucky winner! Please email email@example.com to find out more.
I sent email. Arigatou Gozaimasu.
Hello Tania, thanks for your comment and best of luck with the competitiion!
Domo Arigatou Gozaimashita! My daughter and I will cherish this book forever! She I think is even more excited than I am about this book. Be watched the NHK video that you were featured on and My daughter said “I love her accent and mom go figure her name is Fiona and Mom your best friend’s name is Fiona and she lives in Niigata!!”
Again thank you so very much; to you and Gaijinpot for this. I will post pictures of the recipes that we make from your book on my Facebook and Instagram. And I will make a Youtube video and showcase your book when I get it.
Hello Tania thanks for your beautiful comment. Please say “hello” to your daughter. I sent the book to you by post yesterday so hopefully you’ll receive it soon 🙂 You can find me on FB, http://www.facebook.com/fionauyemachef I hope you enjoy my book, my story and my recipes! Take care Fiona
Katsudon is by far my favourite Japanese recipe! The best comfort food 🙂
I completely agree, katsudon is such as great comfort food. Thanks for commenting, Fiona 🙂
Nasu dengaku is my absolute fav!
Hello and thanks for your comment. There are so many Japanese dishes to choose from but nasu dengaku is an all time favourite isn’t it!
Miso soup is my kids favorite! I love ramen though.
Hello Andrea, it’s great your kids love miso as it’s so healthy. My 2 little boys adore miso too. Sometimes I pour miso over a bowl of rice and they always love it! Miso ramen is great too! Fiona 🙂