If you look around any given high street in London, you’ll likely spot a Japanese restaurant - be it a takeaway sushi shop, an authentic ramen hangout or the latest dessert craze pop-up.
It’s fair to say that Japanese food has well and truly made its mark on London, and we’re absolutely living for it. Whether it’s a a box of takeaway sushi for lunch or treating ourselves at one of London’s latest Japanese fusion restaurants, we’re obsessed.
Enjoying these dishes so much, it can be intimidating to know where to start when it comes to recreating the flavours, colours and theatrics at home.
Despite seeming almost impossible to cook yourself, we can assuredly say it’s deceptively simple, especially when it comes to nailing the basics. With just a few ingredients in the pantry and some free time, you’ll be creating show stopping meals every night of the week.
Kanji Furukawa, Executive Chef at Japan Centre, tells us, “Soy sauce, mirin, cooking sake and miso paste are absolutely essential when it comes to stocking up your kitchen if you’re wanting to make Japanese dishes at home. These four ingredients are the base to so many classic Japanese dishes and are also used to marinate anything from steaks to aubergines to add lots of flavour”.
It’s time to throw yourself headfirst into the world of Japanese food. We’re here to inspire and make you salivate with a look at the best Nipponese cookbooks below.
Japaneasy: Classic and Modern Japanese Recipes
If you’re keen to give Japanese food a go, but don’t want to dedicate an entire day shopping around specialist stores before cooking for several more hours, Japaneasy is the way forward. Anderson shows how authentic Japanese food can be cooked in barely any time, with only a few ingredients found in regular supermarkets.
For novice cooks, the information on stocking your pantry at the beginning is particularly useful. In fact, you only need seven essential ingredients: soy sauce, mirin, rice vinegar, dashi, sake, miso and rice.
Once the basic sauces have been mastered, take it up a notch and try making crowd-pleasing favourites such as gyoza, tempura and yakitori. For the adventurous, we recommend Anderson’s Japanese ‘carbonara’ complete with mushrooms, miso and noodles.
Buy now £16.75, Amazon
Dumplings and Noodles: Bao, Gyoza, Biang Biang, Ramen – and Everything in Between
Despite being a dumpling lover, I must admit I have never attempted to make these hearty pockets of deliciousness - they have always seemed overly intricate and delicate. But, with the step-by-step guide provided in Dumplings and Noodles, mastering the art of dumpling making has never been easier.
If you fancy something simpler to get you started on your Nippon culinary odyssey, check out the Miso Ramen for the colder evenings, or the Aromatic Lamb biang biang for a Sunday lunch with a twist. The detailed instructions, clear photographs and helpful tips along the way makes this book a staple for all Asian food lovers.
Buy now £12.79, Amazon
Tokyo New Wave: 31 Chefs Defining Japan's Next Generation
For fans of Japanese culture, this cookbook is a kitchen shelf essential. Profiling 31 top chefs, this guide is crammed with interviews, portraits and recipes to show how Japanese cuisine is being redefined. The dichotomy between tradition and modernity has firmly placed Tokyo as a foodie capital and with recipes such as Wagyu Carpaccio and Uni in Soy Bechamel Sauce, to transport you to the heart of the city.
Naturally most of these recipes take some time to prep and cook, but we promise all will be forgiven the second you take that first heavenly bite. Fazzari’s photography is also stellar - food has never looked so seductive and appetising.
Buy now £26.34, Amazon
Ramen: Japanese Noodles & Small Dishes
Just like author Tove Nilsson, we too are ramen addicts - is there anything better than heaps of noodles, our favourite protein and nutritious veggies swimming in a piping hot flavoursome broth? Now it’s time to recreate your favourite Ramen at home as you put to the test these 50 mouth-watering recipes.
First, Nilsson teaches you how to make the basic broth and noodles before showing you how to create the likes of Short Rib Ramen, Green Curry Ramen and Mushroom Tofu Ramen. All the recipes are simple to follow and most require only easily accessible ingredients.
Don’t forget to try out the small side plates, especially the Tempura and Gyoza - the perfect accompaniment to a ramen.
Buy now £11.52, Amazon
Asian Green Everyday Plant-Based Recipes Inspired by the East
The beauty of Asian food lies in its versatility, and with versatility comes plenty of options - so vegans need not feel left out. This vegan cookbook focuses on healthy yet delicious meals that use fresh fruit and vegetables to create traditional dishes from all over China, Japan and beyond.
If you’re planning on hosting, or cooking for those with plant-based dietary requirements, the Sticky Sprouts & Wild Rice Salad, Chinese Black Bean Seitan Tacos and Xian-style Carrot, Potato and Spring Onion Hash will go down an absolute treat, and are remarkably easy to make (almost of all of it can be prepped in advance).
For those with a bit more time on their hands, follow Huang’s recipe for homemade tofu that can be incorporated in ramens, poke bowls and noodle dishes.
Buy now £13.66, Amazon
Sushi Made Simple: From classic wraps and rolls to modern bowls and burgers
Sushi lovers, gather! We’ve found something incredibly impressive (but no, it’s not a heavily reduced pack of salmon sushi). Sushi Made Simple goes beyond just recipes, it’s a homage to the flavour forward bite-sized pieces of goodness. From the off, it’ll tell you the key ingredients you need in your pantry, the different types of sushi and traditional techniques.
Alongside endless fish sushi dishes such as Spicy Tuna Roll and Chakin Sushi Parcels, comes a range of vegetarian and vegan bites that are equally as delicious.
The Vegetarian Nigiri and Pickled Pepper Sushi are guaranteed crowd pleasers.
Buy now £13.01, Amazon
Modern Asian Baking at Home: Essential Sweet and Savory Recipes
Satisfy your sweet tooth with some of the most incredible Asian inspired cakes, pastries and frozen treats. Packed full with some of the most innovative takes on desserts, each recipe introduces new ingredients, techniques and textures that will create an explosion of flavour.
If you’re short on time and craving mochi, try the Quick Microwave Mochi or for those with more time on their hands, the Lemony Matcha Macarons is not to be missed. Dietary requirements are well catered for with the likes of Spicy Gochujang Flourless Chocolate Cake and Mango Sticky Rice.
Buy now £13.99, Amazon
To Asia, with Love: Everyday Asian Recipes and Stories from the Heart
It can be difficult to create meals to please the entire family without spending all day in the kitchen. This bestselling cookbook by Hetty McKinnon achieves this as she creates traditional vegetarian dishes in non conventional ways.
Her many Asian salads including âSmashed Cucumber Salad and Finger-lickin’ Good Edamame Beans make this a perfect cookbook for summer and outdoor dining. Impressively, you’ll find that most recipes cater for dietary requirements or offer simple substitutes for vegans.
Buy now £18.85, Amazon
Totally Tofu: 75 delicious protein-packed vegetarian and vegan recipes
Not only is Japanese food delicious, it’s also incredibly inclusive. It’s ideal for those with dietary requirements as many dishes are naturally free in dairy and packed with protein - such as tofu. With 75 recipes that span breakfast, lunch and even desserts, if you’re not yet a tofu convert, you soon will be.
Celebrated as a protein-packed and nutritious superfood, tofu is incredibly versatile and can be used in almost any dish. For a weeknight meal, try Black Bean and Tofu Tacos followed by a Tofu Brownie for dessert where the proof really is in the pudding. The Strawberry Tofu Smoothie is surprisingly delicious and a superb way to kickstart the morning.
Buy now £7.57, Amazon
Japanese Food Made Easy
For the beginner cooks amongst us, Japanese Food Made Easy will be your shining light.
With a whole host of Japanese recipes to keep you satisfied throughout the day, you’ll be spending more time eating than cooking thanks to the handy cooking time labelled on each page. In just half an hour and with only a few ingredients, you’ll find yourself sitting down to tasty plates of Gyoza Dumplings, Mackerel Pressed Sushi and Matcha Ice-Cream Sandwich.
Instructions are clear and comprehensive, so no need to worry about chef’s jargon. We guarantee you’ll be coming back for more thanks not only to the recipes but for the stomach-rumbling photography too.
Buy now £12.79, Amazon