Recipes from Japanese Food Made Easy


Yakitori Grilled Chicken Skewers SML

Yakitori (Grilled Chicken Skewers)
Serves: 4
Preparation: 30 minutes
Cooking: 10 minutes

There are numerous varieties of yakitori, including chicken offal and skin, but the classic and probably most popular is negima – chicken thigh and spring onion with a sweet soy sauce.

800 g (1 lb 12 oz) skinless chicken thigh fillets, excess fat trimmed and cut into 4 cm (1½ inch) cubes
8 spring onions (scallions), white part only, cut into 4 cm (1½ inch) pieces
½ cup (125 ml) teriyaki sauce (store-bought or homemade, see page 218)
12 bamboo skewers
4 teaspoons sunflower oil
½ teaspoon shichimi togarashi

Soak the bamboo skewers in water for 15 minutes, as this will prevent them from burning during grilling.

Spear the chicken and spring onions onto the soaked skewers – there are no strict rules, but aim for a good mix of both chicken and spring onion.

Heat the oil in a cast-iron frying pan over medium heat. When it starts to sizzle, place the chicken skewers in the pan, cover with the lid and cook for 4 minutes on each side or until cooked through.

Pour the teriyaki sauce into the pan, turn the skewers with tongs and toss them with the sauce. As the sauce thickens, take the pan off the heat.

Arrange the skewers on a serving plate, drizzle with the cooking sauce, sprinkle with the shichimi togarashi and serve.

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Tonkatsu Japanese Pork Cutlet SML

Serves: 4
Preparation: 30 minutes
Cooking: 15 minutes

Tonkatsu is one of the most popular yo-syoku dishes (Western influenced Japanese cuisine). I recommend preparing the pork using a meat tenderiser, which is a great kitchen tool to have. You can also try katsu sandwiches – spread butter on toast and sandwich the katsu and tonkatsu sauce inside with shredded cabbage. Heavenly!

4 pork loin steaks, about 170 g (53/4 oz) each, skin and bones removed
2 eggs, lightly beaten
400 g (14 oz) soft white cabbage (about 1/4 small cabbage), shredded and kept in ice-cold water
1/2 cup (125 ml) Quick Tonkatsu Sauce 
sea salt and ground black pepper
1/4 cup (35 g) plain (all-purpose) flour
2 cups (120 g) panko breadcrumbs
2 cups (500 ml) sunflower oil, for deep-frying

Bring the pork steaks to room temperature. If you have thick steaks, make five or six incisions where the meat meets the fat on both sides. This will tenderise the pork and prevent it from curling during cooking. Season with salt and black pepper.

Place the flour, beaten eggs and breadcrumbs in three separate shallow bowls. Coat the pork in the flour first and pat to remove any excess flour.
Next, dip the pork into the egg. Finally, cover the pork with breadcrumbs. (You can freeze the coated pork at this stage if needed.)

Heat the sunflower oil in a deep saucepan to 180°C (350°F). Cook two pork steaks for about 3 minutes, until golden brown. Use a metal strainer to remove the tonkatsu and place on paper towel to drain. Repeat with the rest of the steaks, then fry each tonkatsu again for another minute and drain on paper towel.

Drain the cabbage completely.

Cut the tonkatsu into thin slices. Serve with the cabbage and drizzle with the tonkatsu sauce.

Quick Tonkatsu Sauce
Makes: about 1/2 cup (125 ml)
Preparation: 10 minutes

Tonkatsu sauce is the Japanese equivalent to British brown sauce. You will find ready-made tonkatsu sauce in any Japanese grocery store, Asian food store or online. However, it’s not too difficult to make from scratch. Here is my quick, easy-to-prepare version. 

1/2 teaspoon freshly squeezed lemon juice
2 tablespoons tomato sauce (ketchup)
1/4 cup (60 ml) Worcestershire sauce
2 teaspoons dijon mustard
4 teaspoons soy sauce
1/4 cup (45 g) light brown sugar a pinch of sea salt
1/4 cup (40 g) white sesame seeds, toasted, optional

Mix the tomato sauce, Worcestershire sauce, mustard, soy sauce, sugar, lemon juice and salt in a bowl until well combined.

If you are making this to store, don’t add the sesame seeds at this stage. Store the sauce in the fridge in a clean, screw-top jar for up to a month.

Place the toasted sesame seeds in a suribachi or mortar and coarsely grind. Mix them into the sauce just before serving.

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Japanese Style Curry SML

Serves: 4
Preparation: 30 minutes
Cooking: 50 minutes

The Japanese are experts at inventing their own versions of foreign dishes. They have a slight obsession with curry, so naturally they have created a Japanese version.

1 large onion, thinly sliced
5 garlic cloves, grated
30 g (1 oz) fresh ginger, peeled and grated
4 skinless chicken thigh fillets, cut into bite-sized pieces
2 tablespoons butter
2 small apples, peeled and grated
2 carrots, coarsely grated
1 quantity of Steamed Rice (see page 208)
2 tablespoons sunflower oil
1/4 cup (35 g) plain (all-purpose) flour
3 tablespoons mild curry powder
200 g (7 oz) tinned chopped tomatoes
1.2 litres (42 fl oz) good-quality chicken stock
2 tablespoons tomato sauce (ketchup)
3 tablespoons Worcestershire sauce
1½ teaspoons honey
3 tablespoons soy sauce
1 teaspoon sea salt cornichons, tiny pickled onions and a soft-boiled egg, to serve, optional

Heat the oil in a large, deep saucepan over low heat. Add the onion, garlic and ginger and cook until it turns a deep golden colour and begins to caramelise. Increase the heat to medium and stir-fry the vegetables until the onion is golden.

Reduce the heat, add the chicken and fry for 3 minutes. Add the butter and flour and stir for 2 minutes. Add the curry powder, then increase the heat and cook until aromatic. Add the chopped tomatoes and cook for 5 minutes.

Add 1 cup (250 ml) of the stock and mix well. Pour in the rest of the stock, then add the tomato sauce, Worcestershire sauce, honey, soy sauce, apple and carrot. Bring to the boil, then reduce the heat. Simmer for 30 minutes, stirring occasionally to prevent burning. Add the salt, to taste.

Scoop the rice into bowls and spoon the curry on top. Serve with the cornichons, pickled onions and a soft-boiled egg, if using.

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Matcha Ice-Cream Sandwich SML

Makes: 6 
Preparation: 15 minutes, plus 4–6 hours freezing 
Cooking: 20 minutes

This refreshing, subtly bitter green tea ice cream would be perfect for the end of any Japanese meal. If you’re using an ice-cream maker and the bowl needs to be chilled, you can prepare this a day in advance.

6 organic egg yolks
280 ml (91/2 fl oz) thick (double) cream
2 1/4 cups (560 ml) full-cream (whole) milk
2/3 cup (150 g) caster (superfine) sugar
1 vanilla pod, split lengthways and scraped to remove the seeds
2 tablespoons matcha powder (green tea powder)
12 digestive biscuits

Mix the egg yolks and sugar in a large bowl.

Combine the cream, milk, vanilla seeds and vanilla pod in a saucepan. Cook over medium–low heat until just below boiling point. Remove from the heat. Pour just one ladleful of the liquid into the egg mixture, mix well and then add the rest of the milk. Mix completely to dissolve the sugar.
Rinse the saucepan and pour the egg and milk mixture back into the pan. Cook over medium–low heat, stirring constantly, until the custard is thick enough to coat the back of a spoon.

Remove the vanilla pod and scrape the custard into a bowl. Sift the matcha powder over the custard and carefully stir to remove all of the lumps. Cover with plastic wrap until cooled.

Pour the cooled custard into an ice-cream maker and churn according to the machine’s instructions. Alternatively, pour the custard into a container to freeze for 2–3 hours. Whisk the custard, then return to the freezer and repeat this process for the next 2–3 hours, until frozen.

To serve, scoop about 90 g (31/4 oz) of the ice cream and sandwich it between two digestive biscuits. You can freeze the sandwiches again to serve later if you wish.

Download printable recipe (PDF)