Explore Traditional Japanese Food and Recipes

  • 01 of 08

    Traditional Foods of Japan

    Traditional Japanese Breakfast
    MIXA / Getty Images

    Japanese cuisine is characterized by many traditional dishes which are enjoyed on a daily basis as well as during special holidays. Don't hesitate to delve right in and explore these dishes that are heavily entwined with the culture of Japan.

  • 02 of 08

    Gohan - Steamed Rice

    Japanese Rice
    MYamaguchi / Getty Images

    No meal is complete in Japan without steamed rice, from breakfast through late night. The name for steamed rice, Gohan, literally means "meal." You must cook it properly and with the respect and attention it deserves.

    Polished, short grain rice (hakumai) is the preferred variety for making steamed rice. Look for Calrose short grain rice, sushi rice, or Japonica rice. You can use a rice cooker (suihanki) or a heavy-based saucepan with a tight-fitting lid. The rice is meant to be a little sticky when cooked so it can be easier to eat with chopsticks.

    Try this recipe for Japanese Steamed Rice.

  • 03 of 08

    Miso Soup

    Miso soup with Tofu and leeks
    Keiko Iwabuchi / Getty Images

    Typical Japanese-style meals include a bowl of miso soup. It is made with dashi soup stock, tofu, miso paste, and green onions. Different types of miso vary in flavor and saltiness, so you can adjust it to your taste.

    Try this recipe for Miso Soup with Tofu.

  • 04 of 08

    Sushi

    Avocado Caterpillar Roll
    Jordan Lye / Getty Images

    Sushi takes the role of fast food today, both in Japan and around the world.  In Japanese cuisine, sushi indicates dishes that use sushi rice, which is seasoned with a sweet vinegar mixture. There are various forms of sushi, including the oval nigiri-zushi topped with seafood, often raw. Maki-zushi is rolled sushi with strips of fish and vegetables laid in rice and rolled inside nori.

    Try this recipe for Spicy Tuna Roll.

    Continue to 5 of 8 below.
  • 05 of 08

    Hot Pots

    Sukiyaki
    Hicastle / Getty Images

    Hot pot dishes are easily cooked in one large pot and are quite popular in Japanese cuisine. One of the joys of eating hot pot dishes is that the pot is cooked on a portable range on the dining table and enjoyed family style while everyone takes individual portions from the pot. 

    The word "yaki" means "sauté" or "grill" in Japanese, and in making sukiyaki the meat is sauteed in the hot skillet at the table. Traditionally, sukiyaki is a winter dish usually found at bōnenkai, Japanese year-end parties.

    Try this recipe for Beef Sukiyaki.

  • 06 of 08

    Ramen

    Japanese soup ramen close-up
    VasilevKirill / Getty Images

    Ramen noodle dishes are very popular in Japan, with boiled noodles served in differently flavored soup with many toppings. Chefs in Japan usually train very hard to make quality ramen. While you may be used to simply packaged, cheap ramen, making true ramen soup isn't easy if you are making the soup from scratch.

    Try this recipe for Shoyu Ramen.

  • 07 of 08

    Tempura

    Ten-Zaru Soba
    Daniel Zelazo / Getty Images

    Tempura deep-fried vegetables or seafood are very common items in Japanese restaurants. The cooking method which makes tempura batter bloom like a flower in hot oil is called Hanaage), hana means flower and age means deep frying.

  • 08 of 08

    Wagashi

    Daifuku
    photographed by chihiro317 / Getty Images

    The traditional confectionery known as wagashi is served with tea in Japan. Daifuku mochi is a type of wagashi and is usually served with green tea. It is most commonly filled with red bean paste, but some are filled with white bean paste ( Shiroan). There are also mochi made with soybean flour, Japanese mugwort, matcha green tea powder or a touch of red food coloring.

    Try this recipe for Daifuku mochi.