These Japanese side dishes are easy to make and full of flavor! From fried rice to chicken wings to veggies, these recipes offer a delicious Asian flair!
Apart from sushi, ramen, and tempura, Japanese cuisine is also famous for its wide variety of side dishes.
It only takes one look at their colorful bento boxes to know that a Japanese meal isn’t complete without the sides.
And there are a plethora of Japanese sides to suit your fancy. From umami-rich soups to sweet salads to tofu-based sides, you’ll never run out!
Let’s take a look at 15 of the most scrumptious Japanese side dishes that will transform your meal from so-so to spectacular.
These sides are easy to make, too, so what are you waiting for? Let’s get cooking!
1. Japanese Fried Rice
Yakimeshi is fried rice that’s loaded with eggs and meat and seasoned with soy sauce, salt, pepper, sesame oil, and scallions.
Apart from the flavor, it’s also the wonderful combination of colors that makes this side dish extra special.
Just like any other fried rice dishes, Yakimeshi is incredibly easy to prepare.
All you need is to stir all the ingredients together in a giant frying pan, and voila, dinner is served!
2. Japanese Turnips with Miso
Small, sweet, and crunchy turnips are mixed with greens and cooked in miso butter and mirin (rice wine).
The contrast between light veggies, rich butter, and sweet wine makes this dish truly phenomenal.
The flavors and textures complement each other so well that you won’t even notice that you’re eating something that’s good for you!
3. Teriyaki Tofu
Whoever said that tofu is bland and boring has never tried this dish before.
This teriyaki tofu is packed with so much flavor; you won’t even miss the meat.
How can anyone resist pan-fried tofu marinated in a sweet teriyaki and savory sauce? It only requires four ingredients, too! How awesome is that?
4. Cold Tofu
Here’s another tofu recipe that’s sure to wow you: Hiyayakko. It’s chilled soft tofu garnished with fresh ginger, scallions, and bonito flakes.
What are bonito flakes, you ask? Well, they’re only the best garnish ever! They’re dried-up flakes of a fish called bonito.
The paper-thin flakes have a wonderful salty flavor and melt-in-your-mouth consistency that pairs wonderfully with the tofu.
5. Japanese Chicken Wings
Tired of the usual buffalo and garlic parmesan wings? Give your crispy fried chicken a Japanese flair!
Japanese chicken wings are oozing with a sweet and savory glaze made even better with ginger, garlic, and pepper.
They have such insanely crisp skin, too! The secret? Instead of flour, the chicken is coated in potato starch, which gives the skin maximum crunch.
6. Japanese Potato Salad
Mashed potatoes loaded with cucumbers, carrots, and eggs, the Japanese potato salad has a lip-smacking combo of tastes and textures.
If you’re tired of usual mashed potatoes, you ought to give this version a try.
The roughly mashed potatoes plus the crunchy veggies create the most wonderful texture contrast.
Seasoned with mayo and a bit of rice vinegar, this salad is incredibly rich and downright delicious.
7. Japanese Spinach Salad
Gomae, or Japanese spinach salad, is a very basic side dish that’s bursting with flavor.
Don’t be fooled by the simplicity of this dish.
Sure, it’s just spinach, but what makes it stand out is the rich dressing made with sake, mirin, soy sauce, sugar, and roasted sesame seeds.
Together, the ingredients create a sweet, tart, and umami-packed dressing that can make even the most boring vegetable exciting.
8. Japanese Simmered Squash
Kabocha is the Japanese counterpart of butternut squash, only more flavorful. It has a tougher skin, sure, but the flesh is sweet and softer.
This classic Japanese side dish elevates the Kabocha by simply cooking it in a mild broth.
The broth, called dashi, does a wonderful job at bringing out the sweet flavor of the humble squash.
9. Spicy Bean Sprout Salad
Bean sprouts, or moyashi, are a staple appetizer and soup topping in many Asian cultures.
In Japan, they flavor the crisp sprouts in a spicy sauce made from sesame oil, and the flavor is just spot on.
Often served alongside ramen and rice dishes, bean sprout salad provides a nice kick to any meal.
10. Japanese Grilled Eggplant
Grilled eggplant coated in a sweet glaze: that’s what a dengaku is all about.
This traditional Japanese dish is so well-flavored, I’d welcome it on my dinner table any time.
Because it’s grilled, it has a delightfully smoky flavor, which the sweet miso sauce pairs incredibly well with.
It is often served as an appetizer, but it’s just so good that I wouldn’t mind eating it as a main dish with rice.
11. Kani Salad
Shredded cucumber, sweet corn, and imitation crab meat are dressed with mayo and ponzu sauce resting on a bed of lettuce.
This is a salad I can get on board with.
With the wonderful texture combinations of corn, cucumber, and crab meat (kani), kani salad is hard to resist!
It’s sweet, creamy, crunchy, colorful, and everything you can ask for in a salad and more!
12. Japanese Green Beans
Japanese green beans are mixed with silky crumbled tofu and flavored with miso and sesame seeds. Beans have never tasted this good.
The nuttiness of ground sesame seeds plus the sweet and salty flavors of miso make the humble green beans so delightful! And the aroma is spectacular!
13. Pickled Daikon Radish
Takua, or pickled daikon radish, is a sweet and crunchy side dish guaranteed to tickle your taste buds.
The radish is sun-dried and then pickled in a mixture of rice wine vinegar, sugar, turmeric, and water for several months.
That’s how it gets that distinct, sweet/tart/savory flavor. It’s the perfect palate cleanser at the end of the meal!
14. Japanese Cabbage Pancakes
Okonomiyaki are Japanese pancakes made from shredded cabbage, flour, eggs, and bacon.
They may not sound as amazing as traditional fluffy pancakes, but they’re definitely worth a try.
Perfectly crisp and savory, these pancakes are surprisingly tasty, considering they’re made with cabbage instead of a sweet batter.
Plus, you really can’t go wrong with bacon!
15. Japanese Coleslaw
Japanese coleslaw is a bright and refreshing side dish that will make any meal extra special.
Mounds of shredded cabbage are drizzled with a simple soy sauce and lemon juice mixture.
That’s all it takes to make the most flavorful and surprisingly addictive side!
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