Best Japanese food is one you make yourself.

9 years ago by in Travel

Living in US in an area poorly populated with Japanese people, we only have horrible sushi places, so after one try we decided do the right thing. That is my wife makes Japanese dishes that we find interesting (on the pictures, in people’s blogs/posts as being good, dishes we tried in good Japanese restaurants during our travels, etc).
We don’t have any Japanese (or Asian) ancestors, but we do our best (I must say, my wife does her best, I guess).

In the plans is a visit to Japan to taste the real Japanese food (this April! Yay!) and perhaps pick some interesting recipes too.

Mandatory link to a bento box:

Turns out a lot of those dishes are not all that hard to prepare, esp. if you somehow obtain some useful tools.
I guess I am super-lucky I have a wife that loves to cook (not just Japanese food too).

These are the pictures I was able to find quickly, we also tried other dishes, might be able to find them later.

Of course like it typically happens (I guess), we started with sushi first, but then extended to other types of dishes.

Yakiniku is one particular area that is so heavy equipment-dependent, we cannot even try to make it yet, but we tried it once on Hawaii and we like it a lot.

My wife also likes to decorate the dishes and while we cannot achieve the level you can see on pictures from high-end restaurants, it’s still mostly looks nice.
This exercise is from previous to last Christmas.

We are lucky to have a fresh fish store in our town (not on the sea), the fish is brought in by air every day, so we have access to fresh fish.

Finding good fresh (and not salted!) fish was a real challenge while we were living in Ukraine.

the other sushi dish up close.

This is fuji no hana zushi, I think, or at least our attempt to render it. Tried only once, but were not overly impressed with the taste.

Curry rice.
First tried a dish with this name in Beijing and liked it. Too bad that restaurant no longer exists.

We also love sweets and find maccha tea to be particularly interesting.
This is an attempt at green-tea with azuki beans cake (with green tea of course).

Gyoza, the Japanese dumplings.

Attempt at making omuraisu.

Gyudon turned out to be pretty interesting and now we eat this regularly.
Getting the hot springs egg effect was hard at first until we discovered that cheapest supermarket eggs don’t work and you really need to splurge on the "free range chicken" expensive ones.
Thank god we have some Korean shops in our area and so there is a supply of thin-sliced meat from there.

Attempt at kakiage soba.
It was hard to find the kakiage, but of course Korean shop had it in some dark corner of their fridge. They used to have a Japanese saleswoman that always helped us to find ingredients we were unfamiliar with. Too bad she moved back to Japan when her husband assignment ended.



Of course ramen!
As you can see, we got Japanese soups area covered pretty well.

Takoyaki. Always wanted to make them but did not have the form.
Ended up ordering the electric form on Ebay.
After first attempt a trip to NewYork happened and we visited a frequently recommended place "Otafuku" to try their takoyaki, theirs turned out to be much tastier, but new versions of ours is now improved too.

Okonomiyaki. When tried at Otafuku in New York we were disappointed by taste. This was our first attempt to try it at home we liked it more.

Tamagoyaki – just an egg roll. Required a square pan!

Sukiyaki. Another equipment-heavy dish.

Tonkatsu. We like this one a lot and so it is being made often.

I guess this would be called ikakatsu because this is just tonkatsu with squid instead of pork. Tastes like chicken! 😉 (Not sure if it is a joke or not, but I heard in Japan people say chicken tastes like squid)
We first tried this as "fried calamari" in some Japanese place in Austin, I was totally impressed by how tender the squid was.
We scrambled locally to find out how to make a squid this soft with little success and people in the Korean shop were of not any help (even the Japanese saleswoman did not understood our problems).
In the end we stumbled upon "frozen squid fillet" in a fresh fish store, and that turned to be the key, the squid was already beaten/tenderized and very soft as a result.
Of course it also helped not to overfry the squid in the oil.

"ikakatsu" with the sauce on top.

This is a deep-fried shrimp tonkatsu-style.

Yakitori. This is made by the classical recipe and is a bit salty.
In fact we like the other recipe that is a lot more sweet. Need to find some pictures I guess.

Yakisoba. You see, we experiment with Japanese pasta too.

Were in a mood for some fastfood-style stuff and so tried korokkepan. Nice on the taste but does not fill the stomach well due to no meat 😉

This was supposed to be tebasaki, modelled after a dish with this name we tried in a Moscow "Yakitoria" chain. Not sure if it even looks as it should.

Melon Pan! Shana love those.

This we tried in some Hawaiian sushi place (so from this point on the dishes in this post are not made by my wife). It was called something like "Gold dragon rolls", super tasty. Anybody happen to know a recipe? 😉