Simply Japanese

Always wanted to try your hand at Japanese-style cooking, but think it’s probably too hard? Well, think again! It’s easier than you’d imagine with all the available sauces, marinades and even sushi-rolling kits available in the supermarket or specialty stores. It is fun too if you serve it in a Japanese-inspired setting.

Kinda a modern Japanese-inspired setting. By the way, I made those sushi nori rolls...challenging but fun!

We like Japanese food, especially my son. If we sometimes feel like going out to dinner, chances are Japanese cuisine would be the first choice. My son started his liking for sashimi when he was just five years old. For the next five years or so, every weekend lunch would be a tray of sashimi for him. I in particular like it and sushi rolls. My husband I think is more into the crumbed stuff and marinated meat strips and noodles.

This was from our favorite Japanese Sushi Studio in our neighborhood. See those platter of rolls and the sashimi? All ordered by my son.

My son's typical weekend lunch.

If you are planning to put together a Japanese-inspired meal, it is probably best to know the basic ingredients or cooking style, which makes it close to authentic Japanese cuisine.


Wasabi is a condiment traditionally served with sushi and sashimi. The ground root-like rhizome pungently flavors many foods in Japanese cuisine. Traditionally, wasabi is prepared bygrating the fresh rhizome against a rough surface. Fresh wasabi and wasabi paste not only add spicy hotness and sweetness, but also a gentle fragrance to enhance the taste of fresh fish, when mixed with soy sauce.

Just a bit of wasabi is enough to add that special flavor to fresh sashimi.


This traditional method of cooking involves basting foods with a mixture of soy sauce and mirin as it grills. The word comes from ‘teri’ meaning ‘gloss’ and ‘yaki’, to grill. This method of cooking can be used for chicken or beef. These days you can buy ready teriyaki marinade and sauce from the supermarket. I don’t mind using a bottled sauce to be honest, just like what I used here.

Beef teriyaki marinated and cooked with ready-made sauce from the local store.

But if you are feeling a little more adventurous and have time to mix the sauce, here is a link to a simple teriyaki sauce.

Sushi Rice (sushi mesi)

This short-grain rice, similar to glutinous rice, becomes sticky when cooked, which is especially good for Japanese sushi. Adding rice vinegar, sugar and salt during cooling to flavor the rice produces the traditional rice for sushi – sushi mesi.

Sushi mesi


Tempura, a traditional Japanese dish, consists of seafood and vegetables in a light, golden batter. In making tempura, there are three basic rules; use ingredients of prime quality, keep the oil at a constant temperature and always use ‘lumpy’ batter. The batter should be barely mixed and made just before required. This will give you a light and crispy tempura.

Miso soup

Miso soup is a breakfast staple for many Japanese, produced from miso paste, one of the oldest Japanese ingredients. Miso is a preserve of soya Β beans, salt and a blend of wheat and rice, or barley. White miso (shiro-miso) is slightly sweet, golden-colored, made from rice and is rarely available out of Japan. Red miso (aka-miso), made from barley, is aged the longest of the pastes and has a salty flavor. Black miso (kuro-miso) has a strong flavor and is made from soya beans.

Yaki nori

These very dark-green seaweed sheets (nori) are an essential ingredient for making rolled sushi. Nori provides flavor as well as visual appeal and is low in fat and high in vitamins, protein, calcium and iron. It is also popular for temaki-sushi (hand-rolled sushi) – an easy, informal style of sushi anyone can enjoy making.

And speaking of making your own sushi, well, I had a go. Bought a sushi-roll kit and ingredients to roll with the rice, which was included in the kit. It was very handy as inside the box were the basic things you will need to make your own rolls; bamboo mat, sushi rice, powdered rice vinegar, yaki nori, soy sauce and even a small pack of wasabi. I have to say it sounds a lot easier looking at the photos and reading the instructions included in the kit. Boy did I struggle with my first roll!

Yaki noriSimple flavors; chili chicken and avocado, salmon and avocado, and vegetarian with carrots and avocado. It is very interesting to note that avocados, according to a Japanese friend is never used is Japan as a roll filling. Only in Australia, she said. I guess you have to make use of whatever is abundant and loved by the locals.

Ready to roll.

... struggling ...

... almost there.

Yay! One down, five to go!

Well, I finished six big rolls after half an hour. I think I will leave the sushi rolling to the experts next time we have a Japanese-inspired dinner. My rolls did not come out visually perfect so I thought, I'd let the presentation and table setting make up for it. πŸ™‚

And before I forget, serve a bowl of edamame as a side dish.

We love these edamame (young soy beans). So healthy you don't have to serve them only on Japanese-inspired meals but you can snack on them too.

There you go. Hopefully, I got you inspired to turning Japanese on some meal times. πŸ™‚

This entry was published on February 19, 2012 at 8:15 pm. It’s filed under cooking, family bonding, food and tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. Follow any comments here with the RSS feed for this post.

11 thoughts on “Simply Japanese

  1. Yum… Japanese food. Thanks for the wonderful pictures on how to roll sushi.

  2. Waa super awesome post and cool setup! I love all of it haha πŸ™‚ I should really get myself that sushi roller thingy. πŸ™‚

  3. I really think you are on your way to master the Japanese aesthetics ideals. Love the presentation!

    • Razel Rull-Navarro on said:

      Thank you! I like the modern minimalist presentation … I think you can get away with that when plating up a Japanese dish πŸ™‚

  4. Pingback: Chicago Restaurant Reviews: The Tamarind and More « Write on the World

  5. Pingback: 5 Essential Ingredients You Will Need To Cook Japanese Food | Everyday Christianity - A Sarcalogos Website

  6. Pingback: Miso soup | Chef Doru's Blog

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