Cooking For Date Night? Here Are 5 Easy But Impressive Japanese Dishes To Whip Up
If you and bae love Japanese food, here’s an idea for your next date night - a home-cooked Japanese dinner! Don’t worry if you’re not a particularly great cook, these 5 recipes that we’re featuring are super simple. Plus, there are little cheat codes to make your life easier.
The only thing you really need to pay attention to is the type of rice you’re using - some of these dishes require a specific type of rice, and it will make or break the dish so remember to buy the correct ones!
Read on for 5 easy Japanese recipes that are perfect for date night!
Love sushi, but lack the hand-eye coordination to shape a perfect nigiri or sushi roll? Here’s a clever way to present the same ingredients, minus the rolling! You can serve a whole bunch of these with different toppings, or just have a few cups as appetisers before moving on to the main course.
Use this rice: Akita Akitakomachi, $21 for 2kg
You definitely need to use Japanese short-grain rice for sushi. The Akitakomachi grain is favored because of its chewy texture and light taste, which provides the perfect stage for sushi ingredients to shine. It’s also rinse-free, so you can just go ahead and cook the rice!
1 cup Akita Akitakomachi rice (makes approx. 12 cups)
20ml sushi vinegar
Furikake or shredded seaweed (optional)
Toppings* of your choice
*I used shrimp, crab meat, ikura and tamago as toppings, but feel free to substitute with your favourite sashimi!
- Cook Akita Akitakomachi rice according to instructions on the package.
- While rice is still hot, mix in 20ml of sushi vinegar. Set aside and let it cool to room temperature.
- Spoon rice into teacups or shot glasses, sprinkle furikake or shredded seaweed and top with toppings. Serve.
Ebi Katsu Rice Burger
Trust us, rice burgers are easier than they look. You just need to mould the rice into round patties and lightly pan-fry them in sesame oil. While we made the patty from scratch, you can cheat with a store-bought one or substitute it with other fillings, such as teriyaki salmon fillet, thinly sliced beef or even fried chicken!
Use this rice: Hokkaido Nanatsuboshi, $21 for 2kg
Another rinse-free rice, this grain from Hokkaido is super plump and glossy after cooking. It is rather sticky in texture and has a hint of sweetness, which is perfect for making rice burgers because the grains don’t fall apart easily.
3 cups Hokkaido Nanatsuboshi rice (makes 2 rice burgers)
½ block of tofu
1 cup flour
3 cups panko bread crumbs
- Cook Hokkaido Nanatsuboshi rice according to instructions on the package.
- Line a ramekin with cling wrap and scoop three heaping tablespoons of cooked rice into it, gently pressing down to mould it into a rice burger bun. Let sit for 5 minutes.
- Heat up sesame oil in a frying pan and lightly fry the rice burger buns on both sides till slightly golden. Set aside.
- Mince prawns and tofu. Combine in a bowl and add salt, pepper and mayonnaise to taste. If the mixture is a little too wet, mix in panko breadcrumbs till you can shape the mixture.
- Shape the minced prawns and tofu into a patty, coat it in a layer of flour and dip it into beaten egg. Add more panko breadcrumbs as a final coating.
- Heat up oil in a deep fryer, fry patties till golden brown.
- Assemble your rice burger, adding mayonnaise, tartar sauce and shredded cucumber (or lettuce leaves) as desired. Serve.
Katsu Curry Don
If you have the time and know-how to make delicious crispy tonkatsu from scratch, then power to you! If not, feel free to cheat with store-bought tonkatsu or tempura. You can also use frozen chicken katsu or tonkatsu - then drench it generously in Japanese curry.
Use this rice: Hyogo Tajima Koshihikari, $33.90 for 2kg
Also known as “stork rice”, Hyogo Tajima Koshihikari is farmed in Toyooka city, where storks and humans live in harmony. This rice is great for the health and environmental-conscious because it’s cultivated without any chemicals. Instead, the organisms in the rice paddies - including the storks - act as natural pesticides and fertilisers.
2 cups Hyogo Tajima Koshihikari rice
6 Japanese curry cubes (makes 2 portions)
1 yellow onion
2 breaded chicken fillets
- Cook Hyogo Tajima Koshikari rice according to instructions on the package.
- Dice onions, potatoes and carrots. Slice tonkatsu and set aside.
- In a saucepan, heat up cooking oil and sautée onions till fragrant.
- Add in potatoes and carrots, then add water.
- Once the water is boiling, add curry cubes.
- Let the curry simmer till the carrots and potatoes are soft. Stir continuously to avoid burning.
- Scoop rice onto a plate and add curry to it. Place sliced tonkatsu on top of the curry and drizzle a spoonful of curry sauce over it. Serve.
California Sushi Onigirazu
Going on a picnic or car date? Then pack these onigiri-inspired rice sandwiches! They’re quick and easy to make, and are so convenient to pack in a bento box. Best of all, you can use a wide variety of fillings - while we’re making California sushi for this recipe, you can try making onigirazu with tuna mayo, chicken karaage, tamago and much more!
Use this rice: Ibaraki Fukumaru, $16.90 for 2kg
The Ibaraki Fukumaru rice doesn’t harden when cooled, making it the perfect choice for rice balls (or in this case, rice sandwiches). The grains are also much bigger compared to other Japanese short-grain rice, and its flavour is unaffected by reheating. We recommend using this for your daily lunch boxes!
2 cups Ibaraki Fukumaru rice (makes approx. 3 pcs of onigirazu)
20ml sushi vinegar
5 crab sticks
3 sheets of seaweed
- Cook Ibaraki Fukumaru rice according to instructions on the package.
- Once cooked, mix in sushi vinegar and let rice cool to room temperature.
- Lay a sheet of cling wrap on a flat surface and place a sheet of seaweed on top.
- Mould rice into a diamond shape, placing it in the middle of seaweed with one corner pointing to the top.
- Layer avocado, crab stick, tobiko and Japanese mayonnaise on top of the rice.
- Fold in each corner of the seaweed using the cling wrap, like an envelope. The onigirazu should look like a square package.
- Pack the onigirazu in the cling wrap and you’re good to go!
There’s just something about well-seasoned beef on top of a steaming pile of rice that makes for the perfect comfort food. It might not be a fancy dish that one expects during date nights, but speaking from personal experience, this is a surefire date pleaser. My partner requests for this at least once a month, so you know it’ll definitely keep him coming back for more!
Use this rice: Niigata Koshihikari, $23 for 2kg
If you’re using premium beef, then you’ve got to make sure that the rice is equally rich to do the meat justice! The Niigate Koshihikari rice is produced in the snowy Hokuriku area and irrigated by the nutrient-rich waters that flow from the mountains. The end result? Rice that is so shiny, aromatic and sweet, you’d end up getting a second helping even if you’re on a diet.
2 cups Niigata Koshihikari rice
300g sliced beef
1 cup dashi stock or stock cube
2 eggs (optional)
1 tablespoon sugar
1 tablespoon soya sauce
¼ cup mirin
- Cook Niigata Koshihikari rice according to instructions on the package.
- Dice onions.
- Heat up oil in a pot and sautée onions and sugar till fragrant and slightly caramelised.
- Add in sliced beef, soya sauce and mirin.
- Once beef is cooked, add stock and let it simmer for 5 minutes.
- Soft boil eggs for 6 ½ minutes (optional).
- Scoop rice into a bowl, top with beef, onions and soft-boiled egg. Top with furikake or sesame seeds as desired. Serve.
The speciality Japanese rice from JA Zen-Noh featured in these recipes are available at selected NTUC FairPrice outlets, selected Cold Storage outlets, Meidiya Millenia Walk & Great World City, Isetan Scotts, Redmart and Shopee.
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Text: GirlStyle SG
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