The spring semester is starting soon for a lot of students in Japan. While some are still living with their families, there are a lot of university students living alone during their studies. When you are living alone, you might feel that it is difficult to cook meals in the middle of your busy schedule. If you are an international student in Japan, you might also want to try out some easy Japanese recipes. However, you might feel confused about where to start since Japan has so many recipes to choose from. We would love to show you some easy Japanese recipes for you to try and master!
Our Favourite Easy Japanese Recipes for Students
First we have a student staple!
Gyudon (牛丼) or Japanese Beef Bowl is a tasty staple food in Japan that you can make quickly. While there are a lot of slight variations to the recipe, all you need are thin slices of beef, onion, and sweet and savoury sauce to make this dish–a cheap and straightforward ingredient list! You can even add a raw egg yolk or a poached egg (onsen tamago 温泉卵) to the top of your tasty beef and hot rice gyudon to make it even more delicious.
Ingredients (1 serving)
- ½ onion
- 100 grams sliced beef
- 2 tablespoons soy sauce
- 2 tablespoons water
- 2 tablespoons sugar (adjust according to your preference)
- 1 poached egg/onsen tamago (optional)
- Green onions for garnishing (optional, adjust according to your preference)
- Peel and thinly slice the onions, cut the green onions, and cut the sliced beef in half.
- Put the soy sauce, water, sugar, and sliced onions into your pan. Turn to high heat with a lid on it.
- When it starts to boil, add your beef and cook for a few minutes until it is cooked through.
- Serve on top of your hot rice and add a poached egg (onsen tamago) if you like, and enjoy!
If you prefer a chicken-based meal over beef, oyakodon (親子丼) is a great dish for you to try out. You can enjoy the hearty combination of chicken, egg, and onions that are simmered together in the soy sauce-based broth on top of hot rice. This dish is perfect for those who want an easy protein-packed meal!
Also, you don’t have to worry about cleaning up after cooking this dish because you can quickly make it in one pan! If you are not a fan of oily meals, oyakodon is a good option. In fact, you can either cook your chicken in oil first before putting it in the seasoning mixture or cook it as the seasoning mixture is boiling. I personally like to cook my chicken with canola oil or sesame oil (goma abura ごま油) first.
The chicken is steamed along with the sauce mixture in the recipe below.
- 2 boneless and skinless chicken thighs
- ½ onion
- 2 large eggs
- Green onion (for garnish, optional)
- 120 ml dashi (while putting in dashi in will make your oyakodon more delicious, you can skip this if you don’t have it at home)
- 1 ½ tbsp mirin (you can skip this if you don’t have it or can’t consume it)
- 1 ½ tbsp sake (you can skip this if you don’t have it or can’t consume it)
- 1 ½ tbsp soy sauce (make it 2 tbsp if you don’t use dashi, mirin, and/or sake)
- 1 ½ tsp sugar (adjust according to your preference)
- 1 ½ tbsp water (if you don’t use dashi, mirin, and/or sake)
- Peel and thinly slice the onions.
- Prepare the chicken thighs and cut them into bite-sized pieces.
- Prepare the sauce mixture.
- Combine the dashi, mirin, sake, soy sauce, and sugar.
- If you are not using dashi, mirin, and sake, instead mix soy sauce, sugar, and water.
- Put in the thinly sliced onions, sauce mixture, and chicken before turning on the heat to medium and bring to a boil.
- Once boiling, lower the heat to medium-low, cover, and cook until the chicken is adequately cooked and the onions are tender.
- Beat the eggs and slowly drizzle the beaten egg over the chicken and onions. Cover the pan and cook on medium-low until the egg is done according to your preference.
- Prepare your hot rice and put the cooked chicken and egg on top. Enjoy!
If you’re craving noodles, Yakisoba (焼きそば) is something you can try at home. While it is a popular food sold in events, festivals, and food stalls, you can always make it yourself at home.
There are many types of Yakisoba throughout Japan, and you can put in anything you want–including beef, pork, squid, seafood, and vegetables. I personally love my Yakisoba with some vegetables and seafood. Another good thing about Yakisoba is that you can make it in a large portion, saving you time when you don’t have a lot to spare.
Ingredients (3-4 servings)
- ½ onion
- 1 carrot
- 3 shitake mushrooms
- 2 green onion/scallions
- 4 cabbage leaves
- Meat and/or seafood of your choice
- 2 tbsp oil
- Black pepper
- Yakisoba noodles
- 2 tsp sugar (adjust according to your preference)
- 2 tsp soy sauce
- 2 tsp oyster sauce
- 4 tbsp Ketchup
- 4 tbsp Worcestershire sauce
- Make the yakisoba sauce by mixing the sugar, soy sauce, oyster sauce, ketchup, and Worcestershire sauce. You can add more sugar if you think it is needed.
- Prepare your vegetables. Slice the onion, carrot, and mushrooms, chop the green onion into around 5 cm pieces, cut the cabbage into bite-size pieces, and cut the meat according to your preference.
- Heat the oil in a pan or wok on medium-high heat. Cook the meat and/or seafood of your choice.
- Add the sliced onions and carrots, and cook for 1-2 minutes.
- Add the cabbage and cook until it is almost tender. Be careful not to overcook it.
- Add the chopped green onions and sliced mushrooms, and cook for around 1-2 minutes. Season with the black pepper according to your preference.
- Prepare your yakisoba noodles by putting them in a sieve, running hot water over them quickly, and loosening them. Place into the pan or wok you are using and turn the heat to medium. Be careful because the noodles might stick to the pan or wok.
- Add the yakisoba sauce and mix well. Enjoy!
Which of These Easy Japanese Recipes Would You Like To Try?
As a student who has a packed schedule and maybe your first time living alone, it can be quite hard to decide what to cook every day.
Worry not; Japan has a lot of delicious, easy, and quick dishes for you to try out–even if you can’t cook that well! These three recipes can be your starting point to explore and try out other easy Japanese recipes.
So, which easy Japanese recipe will you try out for today’s meal?
Nadira Anamika Utari
Find out more about other delicious Japanese food!
- Kiritanpo Nabe: Northern Japan’s Winter Comfort Food
- Horse Sashimi VS Chicken Sashimi, Unique Sashimi in Japan
- Ehomaki: The Sushi Roll That Brings You Luck
- 4 Seasonal Japanese Vegetables to Eat in Spring
Featured picture credit: Canva