Quick and Easy Japanese Comfort Food

Feb 1, 2016 by Ian (Day Styles)

Everyone loves Japanese food – especially sushi! It’s very popular and quite healthy. But sometimes we want something warm and hearty, and most of the time we don’t think about Japanese food. But there’s more than sushi to choose from! Here are five easy recipes for Japanese comfort food, from delicious fried noodles to mouth-watering soups and deep-fried pork cutlets. (My personal favorite? Bacon Okonomiyaki Pancakes.) While some of the ingredients might seem unfamiliar, don’t worry. Japanese home cooks love instant and prepackaged foods, and so do we because it makes cooking so much easier! You can find all of these ingredients for cheap in Asian supermarkets and grocery stores, and a lot of these recipes use prepackaged ingredients. Easy and delicious, coming right up.

Soba Noodle Soup and Fried Tempura

There’s nothing like slurping at some hot soup on a cold day. This traditional Japanese dish uses healthy buckwheat noodles (“soba”) and a delicious, salty broth, topped with shrimp tempura! You’ll need a package of soba noodles (at least 7 oz), a package of frozen shrimp tempura, mirin, soy sauce, a scallion (green onion), and instant kombu dashi powder (Japanese soup stock). Preparing this heartwarming dish takes a few steps, but they’re all pretty easy. First, prepare the frozen tempura in the oven according to the instructions on the box. While the tempura is heating up, boil two large pots of water. In the first, create your broth following the instructions on the dashi powder. Simmer the broth and add 2 tbsp mirin and 2 tbsp of soy sauce, 1 tsp of kosher salt, and keep the broth hot on low heat. In the other pot, cook the noodles in boiling water for 4 minutes and then drain and rinse thoroughly with cold water. Put the noodles in a large bowl and toss with 1 tsp of oil, and then add the hot broth, tempura, and thin slices of scallion. Ideally, everything is ready at the same time. But don’t worry! The hot broth will keep the noodles and tempura warm in a pinch. Get ready to slurp away at this delicious soup while dipping fried tempura in the amazing broth. The recipe serves 2-4, and you can portion the noodles and broth accordingly. You can also make a big pot of dashi broth and cook fresh noodles for your next meal!

Super-Simple Yakisoba Fried Noodles

On the surface, yakisoba is similar to chow mein, but it uses a thicker noodle and a richer sauce. Funnily enough, yakisoba doesn't use buckwheat soba noodles but special wheat noodles sold specifically as “yakisoba” that you can find at the grocery store or Asian market. You can add almost anything to yakisoba, just choose your preferred meat (pork, chicken, fish) and vegetables (carrots, onions, mushrooms, cabbage). This recipe is really just a quick guide for vegetarian yakisoba! All you’ll need is 1 package of yakisoba noodles, yakisoba sauce (similar to Worcestershire sauce but sweeter), 4 large shitake mushrooms, 1 small onion, 2 green onions, and 1 cup of chopped cabbage. For an easy version, you can also grab a bag of frozen “stir fry vegetables” instead (we won’t tell anyone!) Chop up your preferred vegetables (or prepare your meat) and heat oil in a wok or large saucepan.  Cook the onions and hard vegetables first and then the soft vegetables. When they’re done mix in a few tablespoons of yakisoba sauce (to taste) and then add the yakisoba noodles to the wok. Here’s a tip, though, run the noodles under hot water first to separate them. When they’re cooking, lower the heat to middle and keep stirring until they’re flexible and al dente. Add yakisoba sauce and serve hot.

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