To a novice cook, recreating Japanese food from a restaurant can seem like a daunting task. The multi-layered sushi rolls are pretty much works of art, the dishes are perfectly seasoned, and there’s so much delicious umami flavor you can barely handle it.
Nonetheless, with a bit of research and preparation, not only is it completely possible to recreate Japanese cuisine right at home but you can do so without using meat, dairy, or fish! Yup, that’s right. You can make delicious and flavorful Japanese food that everyone can enjoy.
The secret is equipping yourself with all of the right seasonings, ingredients, and equipment. And guess what? We’ve done the research for you and are willing to share! Here are 15 cooking essentials you need to recreate the deliciousness that is Japanese cuisine.
Bluegrass Soy Sauce
Soy sauce is ubiquitous in Asian cuisine. It’s used as a marinade, for cooking, and as a dipping sauce. Bluegrass Soy Sauce is an artisan soy sauce that is micro-brewed in small batches. It contains water, non-GMO soybeans, wheat, salt, and yeast. Amazon reviewers report that it has a unique oak flavor, seems high quality, and is not too salty. This artisan product, at $10, is almost double the price than the same-size soy sauce bottles you’d find at the supermarket. However, if you want a unique flavor, it may be worth the splurge!
Hime Dried Udon Noodles
Udon noodles are a type of thick, wheat-based noodle often used in Japanese cooking. Hime Udon Noodles are a best-seller in Amazon’s Udon Noodle category and are made from three basic ingredients: wheat flour, water, and salt. Reviewers report that these noodles have a nice texture, are not too starchy, and are pleasantly chewy. Still, it’s worth noting that many have reported that these noodles are not as thick as “traditional ones.” If you’d like to see for yourself, this family-size package costs about $8.
Marukan Seasoned Gourmet Rice Vinegar
Rice vinegar is mild and sweeter than white wine vinegar and is often used to season rice for sushi. Marukan Seasoned Gourmet Rice Vinegar comes with a bit of salt and sugar added which reviewers report gives the vinegar a unique tangy flavor. In addition to using it for sushi rice, one reviewer soaks vegetables in the liquid to create a flavorful side dish. Each 12-ounce bottle is about $7.
Nagai Deluxe Sushi Nori
Nagai Deluxe Sushi Nori is made 100 percent from seaweed and is slightly roasted. Amazon reviewers describe this nori as high quality, flavorful, and healthy since no sugar or salt are added in. As one would assume, most reviewers used this nori to make sushi. You can get 50 sheets of this nori for a little over $8. Not too shabby!
Kokuho Sushi Rice
To make sushi, it only makes sense that you need to buy rice. Kokuho Sushi Rice is a short grain rice that users report is “perfect for making sushi rolls.” Apparently, it becomes plump, pearl-like, and sticky when boiled. You can get a five-pound bag for $12.
BambooMN Sushi Kit
And of course, what good is nori and sushi rice without the equipment to make your rolls? The BambooMN Sushi Rolling Kit comes with two rolling mats and two spreading tools. According to BamboonMN, the bamboo-colored mat is for making rounder rolls while the green can make round and square. Considering that the average bamboo mat costs about $5, this four-piece kit for a little over $7 is a good deal.
Hikari White Miso Paste
Hikari White Miso Paste is made from water, organic soybeans, organic rice, salt, yeast, and Koji culture. Since it contains cultures it is rich in probiotics. The Japanese product is also free of gluten, MSG, GMOs, and additives. Reviewers report that this tasty miso is mild and a nice addition to soups, salads, and dressings. You can get one 17.6-ounce tub for about $9.
S&B Wasabi Powder
S&B Wasabi, like most other commercial wasabi products sold in the U.S. is made from a combination of horseradish and wasabi. S&B in particular also includes mustard and tapioca starch. This powder is intended to be mixed with water to create a paste. There are mixed reviews as to whether this product succeeds at replicating what you would find at a sushi restaurant but if you want to see for yourself, one one-ounce tub is a little over $7.
Harmony House Foods Dried Shiitake Mushrooms
While finding ways to include fresh vegetables in your cooking is always a plus, sometimes it’s nice to have a convenient product that allows you to get the flavor and nutrition of vegetables without all of the prep. Take this four-ounce jar of Harmony House Foods Dried Shiitake Mushrooms, for instance. These air-dried mushrooms have all of the nutrition of fresh ones, but according to Harmony House, can stay in your pantry for 1-2 years. Reviewers report using the mix for cooking vegetable soups, as a fried rice add-on, and for enhancing ramen noodles. This #1 bestseller in Amazon’s dried vegetable category comes out to about $14.
King Soba Soba Noodles
King Soba Soba Noodles is a low-fat and sodium-free product made from 100 percent buckwheat. King Soba suggests using these noodles for soups, stir-fries, or for a cold noodle salad. Since these noodles are gluten-free and organic, they’re a bit pricey at $13 but if you have a dietary preference or restriction, they may be worth a try.
Goita Chitosuma Yuzu Juice
Goita Chitosuma Yuzu Juice is a citrusy liquid made from yuzu, a fruit native to Japan that provides the same tangy flavor of lemons and limes. In Japan, yuzu juice is relatively inexpensive, but since it’s somewhat of an obscure product in the U.S., the prices are high. This particular five-ounce bottle is a little over $13, which according to reviews is a bit more expensive than one you might find at an Asian specialty market. Still, if you don’t have such a market near you, it might be worth the price!
Roland Sushi Ginger
Ginger is a deliciously tangy ingredient to include in your dishes. Roland Sushi Ginger is promoted as a great addition to sushi platters as a way to “cleanse your palette” between rolls. With many reviews describing Roland’s product as tasty, perfectly sweet, and “just like restaurant ginger,” this product seems worth the try if you like what is usually providing when you order sushi take out or dine in at a restaurant. This two-pack breaks down to about $5 per jar.
Roland White Sesame Seeds
Roland White Sesame Seeds, and sesame seeds in general, are a nice way to add texture to your Japanese dishes. They are small and have a slightly nutty flavor. They come ready to use and reviewers report sprinkling them on dishes for a sophisticated touch. One reviewer even makes tahini dressing using these seeds! You can get a 16-ounce jar of these seeds for a little over $8.
Bull-Dog Vegetable and Fruit Tonkatsu Sauce
A #1 best seller in Amazon’s Asian BBQ sauce section, Bull-Dog Vegetable and Fruit Tonkatsu Sauce is a mix of water, sugar, salt, tomato paste, carrots, onions, and lemon juice. Bull-Dog recommends this sauce for breaded meat cutlets, so we can only assume it will produce the same result for breaded seitan cutlets (you’ll have to confirm this yourself). It’s also suggested for use in vegetables and one Amazon reviewer even drizzles some of this product over their mashed potatoes! You can try out a ten-ounce bottle of this sauce for about $6.50.
M.V. Trading Chopsticks
Yes, eating with forks may be easier at times, but for an authentic-feeling to your Japanese dinner, consider buying some chopsticks! M.V. Trading Chopsticks are hollow, stainless steel chopsticks that reviewers report feel essentially the same as bamboo chopsticks weight-wise and the rings on the bottom make them easier to grip. Since they are stainless steel, reviewers also share that these are easy to clean, either in the dishwasher or by hand. You can get five pairs of these chopsticks for just a little over $2!
So, are you ready to cook some delicious Japanese food? Let us know which product you’re going to buy first in the comments!
Lead Image Source: Grilled Eggplant With Ginger Dressing