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Takikomi Gohan (Japanese Mixed Rice)

Rice bowl containing sweet onion takikomi gohan.

This Japanese Mixed Rice is a one-pot wonder! You can literally cook it with any seasonal ingredients or pantry items you have in the refrigerator. Think dried mushrooms, canned tuna, sweet potatoes, carrots, etc.

Substitutions: Japanese short-grain rice is ideal, but you can use Jasmine rice or any long grain rice if needed.

Variations:

Instant Pot Takikomi Gohan – If you have a pressure cooker (Instant Pot), it’s much faster to make!
Green Pea Rice (Mame Gohan) – Only have frozen peas in the freezer? Make this!
Sweet Onion Takikomi Gohan – Onions have a long shelf life, so I’d always make sure I have a few onions at home.

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Ingredient 2: Udon Noodles (Frozen or Dry)
Udon Noodles (Frozen and Dry) | Easy Japanese Recipes at JustOneCookbook.com

Thick, chewy, slippery udon is a beloved Japanese noodle that can be enjoyed in endless ways. I often grab a few extra packs when I do my run at the Japanese grocery stores. These days you can even find the dry versions at major grocery stores.

Kitsune Udon

A dark bowl containing Kitsune Udon Noodle Soup.

Kitsune Udon is a Japanese noodle soup in dashi broth, topped with seasoned fried tofu (Inari Age), pink-swirled narutomaki fish cake, and scallions. It is the easiest noodle soup to make. Both frozen or dried udon noodles work fine in this recipe.

Substitutions: The deep-fried tofu pouch is a great pantry item to have for Japanese cooking. Feel free to leave out the fish cake.

Variations:

Beef Udon – Thinly sliced beef or chicken also makes a delicious noodle soup!
Curry Udon
A Japanese blue and white donburi bowl containing curry udon.

Thick chewy udon noodles soaked in a rich, fragrant curry sauce, this Curry Udon will satisfy your noodles craving in an instant!

Substitutions: Sub the pork with chicken, beef, shrimp, tempeh, or any protein you have on hand really. For extra fiber, feel free to throw in some greens.

Variations:

Cold Curry Udon – It’s too hot to eat hot noodle soup? Try this cold version instead!
Yaki Udon
A Japanese blue and white plate containing stir fried udon noodles called Yaki Soba.

Japanese udon noodles stir-fried with vegetables and your choice of protein, Yaki Udon is definitely a keeper when comes to easy pantry meal.

Substitutions: Use chicken, tofu, or any protein, or simply add more vegetables to make it hearty noodle dish!

Miso Nikomi Udon

A donabe containing udon noodles, chicken, fish cakes, deep fried tofu, mushrooms, and leeks in a hearty miso broth.

Miso Nikomi Udon is a hearty and comforting noodle soup where chicken, fish cake, and udon noodles are simmered in a miso-flavored dashi broth. When you need something warm at the end of a busy day, this noodle soup will deeply satisfy.

Substitutions: Use chicken, tofu, or any protein, or simply add more vegetables to make it a hearty noodle dish! Leave out anything that you don’t have.

Miso is a very important pantry item in Japanese cooking, which means the majority of you who have tried Just One Cookbook recipes may have one or two types of miso in your pantry. Another reason to have a tub of miso around? It’s full of probiotics and many other great health benefits. Here’s how you can use this condiment to flavor your pantry meals.

Vegan Miso Soup

Japanese wooden bowls containing vegan miso soup with tofu and seaweed.

I cannot live without miso soup. Luckily, you can make a really good bowl of miso soup with only pantry items like dried kombu, silken tofu, and dried wakame. You can even enjoy it plain! Packed with umami goodness, it’s hands-down the easiest soup anyone can pull off anytime.

Substitutions: As I said, you can enjoy miso soup plain or with minimal ingredients. As long as you have miso paste, you can enjoy a bowl of delicious warm soup anytime.

Variations:

Classic Miso Soup – This is the basic miso soup tutorial.
Vegetable Miso Soup – Learn how to add vegetables in your miso soup?
Miso Salmon
A white bowl containing miso salmon over ginger rice.

Known for its Omega-3 fatty acid, salmon is a great protein to have in the diet. For that reason alone, I always have frozen salmon fillets in my freezer. This Miso Salmon recipe is really simple to make. You just need to marinate the fish for 30 minutes, you’d get a flavorful fish to serve for dinner. We love it with Japanese ginger rice.

Substitution: You can use the same marinade on other white fish such as cod or halibut.

Variations:

Miso Butter Salmon – Throw in some shiitake mushrooms and make this delicious version.
All-Purpose Miso Meat Sauce (Niku Miso)
All-Purpose Miso Meat Sauce (Niku Miso) over steamed rice.

This easy Miso Meat Sauce (Niku Miso) is a great side dish to go with steamed rice, noodles, or lettuce wrap! It’s meal prep and freezer friendly too.

Substitution: Ground pork or ground beef are typically used in the dish, but you can also use ground chicken, ground turkey, or cubed firm tofu. To make it into a meal, feel free to toss in some vegetables like frozen peas, broccoli, leafy greens or minced carrots.

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Ingredient 4: Soba Noodles (Frozen or Dry)
Soba Noodles | Easy Japanese Recipes at JustOneCookbook.com

Just like udon noodles, soba noodles or buckwheat noodles are essential in Japanese cooking, and we always have these noodles in our pantry. They make quick and easy lunch options!

Soba Noodle Salad

Soba noodle salad with soy honey dressing in a green bowl.

Enjoyed chilled or at room temperature, this Soba Noodle Salad tossed in a honey-soy dressing is exactly what you need for a quick, light meal. Great on its own, or bulk it up by topping the salad with ramen egg, cucumber slices, sauteed mushrooms or some greens.

Substitutions: No fresh herbs? Replace it with furikake seasoning or shredded nori sheet. A dash of shichimi togarashi will give it a nice kick too.

Soba Noodle Soup

A Japanese bowl containing Toshikoshi Soba Noodle Soup with fish cake and wakame seaweed.

This soba noodle soup is here to warm you right up when all you need is something easy and soothing. It’s about as simple as dinner gets.

Substitutions: You can choose to top the soba noodle soup with any greens, or just keep it plain. For a fancier version, top the noodle soup with frozen tempura from Trader Joe’s or Whole Foods.

Zaru Soba

Two kinds of soba noodles served on a Japanese bamboo, garnished with shredded nori sheet.

For a light and refreshing lunch option, make this Zaru Soba (Cold Soba Noodles) and served with Mentsuyu dipping sauce. It’s a simple dish but tastes amazingly good. Homemade Mentsuyu sauce is best, but you can definitely use the store-bought one.

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Ingredient 5: Japanese Curry Roux
Japanese Curry Roux | Easy Japanese Recipes at JustOneCookbook.com

Japanese curry is one of the most-make dishes for Japanese cooks. You can always find curry roux, whether it’s homemade or store-bought cubes, in a Japanese kitchen.

The good news is homemade Japanese Curry Roux requires only 5 basic pantry ingredients. So, make a big batch, pour the mixture into ice cube trays and freeze! They come in handy in making a whole variety of flavorful curry dishes.

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