Have you ever tried making any Japanese breakfast recipes at home? Well, once you try even one of the recipes below, you will be hooked for life ;-).
Today, we are going to look deeper on a question that we rarely think about.
What we eat at breakfast? You eventually realize how important this topic is when you think about it.
Breakfast is the most important meal of the day, as they say. And it is, especially in Japan, where the latter is not necessarily sweet as it is in the rest of the world or at least in the west.
Japanese Breakfast is one of the healthiest types of breakfast you can possibly have! It mostly consists of slow (healthy) sugars, proteins, vitamins and is one of the most balanced meals that are certainly one of the secrets of the longevity among the Japanese. So, what does this miraculous breakfast is made of?
When you’re fed up with your ordinary boring breakfast you may want to look at Japanese recipes for some nice and healthy ideas for your morning snack.
What do they eat in Japan for breakfast?
We all know more or less about the Japanese cuisine with its varied exotic dishes and most of us really enjoy it (that’s why it’s so popular now). But having a breakfast in Japan for a westerner is sometimes quite an experience. If you are used to your bacon and eggs breakfast, or the more healthier option recommended by nutritionists, with a cup of milk, bread-jam or a croissant, you will probably be disappointed!
Well, you’ll have to adapt if you want to live like a Japanese for a day or are visiting this beautiful country (not really possible or recommended currently).
Japanese /Asian cuisine is quite different than what we are used to, read savory and spicy. So, your taste buds are in for a surprise. Ever heard of umami? You may be overwhelmed at your first bite, but on the second you’ll be in love ;-).
Is it difficult to have a Japanese breakfast or make it at home?
Yes and no. You can easily find all or most of the necessary ingredients for the preparation of a traditional breakfast in your local grocery store. And you can substitute most of the products like, breads, jam, milk, cereals and fruit juice for example.
But believe it, it will never taste the same if you do that. We’re not even talking about the price which is obviously higher for these specialty products like Kewpie (you can make it at home with our recipe) , nori seaweed, wakame, soba noodles, wasabi, soy sauce or even oyster sauce.
The Japanese bread by the way does not correspond in any way to the bread we eat in most other countries.
What is a traditional Japanese Breakfast?
As you might suspect, it’s mostly rice and fish, it’s as simple as that. Most often it is grilled salmon called sake or a milk shake accompanied with cooked white rice and garnished with 2-3 pickles. What we call pickles are actually kinds of Japanese matinated, fermented or pickled vegetables and that have a little acid / bitter taste. You can accompany all this with a miso soup, which is a soup made from fermented and salted soy bean paste, a very classic food in Japan, usually served with almost every meal there.
There’s also Sake, which is cooked or marinated salmon ( not to be confused with sake, the alcohol drink…).
You can vary your Japanese breakfast by having green tea instead of a miso soup, other types of fish meals or you can eat onigiri, cute and easy Japanese rice balls, which you can make if you don’t have much time to cook. You can also add a small pot of natto, which you can mix with rice.
Japanese breakfast and Asian cuisine in general is very balanced are healthy.
Unlike its western versions, the Japanese Breakfast does not consist of fast sugars. So, no jam, croissants and chocolate, the Japanese prefer rice, vegetables and fish (that’s why it’s so healthy or some would say boring ;-))!
And really, rice is the basis of most meals in Japan. And as such, breakfast does not escape the rule.
Whether served as it is or as Tamago Kake Gohan (卵かけご飯) rise mixed with a raw egg, rice is the central element around, which the rest of the Japanese breakfast will revolve. One cannot then have the first meal of the day without it, and the bowl of cooked rice literally rules in most meals since it is usually the first dish to be consumed in the morning, but also often makes for light and healthy dinner.
Another important component of Japanese breakfast: protein intake!
The latter usually consists of fish (usually salmon), but can also take the form of an omelet, tofu or miso soup.
Indeed, miso soup is especially enjoyed by the Japanese in the morning! Light and rich in nutrients, it is ideal for a breakfast on the go, and nutritionists regularly recommend it for its low amount of salt.
The first meal of the day often consists of pickled vegetables called tsukemono (漬物), such as daikon (white radish), cucumber, and eggplant. And green tea accompanies almost everything in Japan, whether served hot or cold.
How it compares To a Western breakfast?
If the Japanese Breakfast is so balanced, it is partly because it follows the rule of Kaiseki (懐石), a Japanese tradition that the meal consists of several small dishes, which are easy to digest and are in line with the nutritional balance of their culture. Therefore, although rice, fish and tsukemono are present in the morning on most Japanese tables, many other small dishes can come to garnish these, like the nattô( 納豆) which is particularly enjoyed in winter for its nutritional benefits.
The number of dishes will then vary according to the tastes of everyone, but also according to the time given to breakfast and its cooking time, since the preparation of some dishes such as miso soup for example can quickly become time consuming.
This is why nowadays, more and more young Japanese tend to abandon the traditional breakfast in favor of western Sweet Treats.
Cereal, toast, and coffee, Western-style breakfast is much faster to prepare, though heavier on the body and less healthy. It is then the delight of busy workers and hungry students, who do not necessarily have time to have a hearty breakfast before going to university, and more and more Japanese cafes offer it early in the morning to their customers.
Also, more Japanese people are eating their breakfast outside the house. And coffee chains like Starbucks or Tully’s are regularly stormed, when the early morning trains spill their flow of travelers into major city stations.
That said, not all is lost for miso soup lovers! And the traditional breakfast is still well established on the archipelago. It can be found in ryokan (traditional hostels), but also on the menu of some more westernized hotels for which the Japanese Breakfast is still a part of the culture that foreign visitors love to discover.
If you are passing through the archipelago, do not hesitate to taste the traditional Japanese breakfast!
The ingredients that make up the real Japanese Breakfast
The traditional Japanese Breakfast often includes savory food. Thus, it is important for Japanese culture that this morning meal consists of easily digestible and balanced ingredients. However, many young Japanese are now introducing more Western habits such as toasts, jam, cereals, fruits, coffee in order to save time. And really, the Japanese breakfast consists of several small dishes that require preparation in advance. A traditional Japanese breakfast consists of:
The main Asian ingredient we find in almost every Japanese breakfast. Japanese rice with the distinctive quality of being very sticky, which allows it to be easily picked with chopsticks. In other countries, you will find it in shops under the name “sushi rice”.
Meat, Proteins(mostly fish)
The Japanese often consume proteins and meat in the morning. It is found in animal forms such as fish, very often salmon, or chicken, usually fried or with eggs, which are sometimes raw and mixed directly with rice or in an omelet form.
But Japanese breakfasts can also consist of vegetable proteins such as tofu or seaweed (Nori and wakame).
For the more curious of us, you can try the Natto, which is a fermented soybean paste. Its slimy appearance and strong smell tend to repel strangers who are not accustomed to it. However, it is a popular food in Japan, thanks to its nutritional values and its benefits on the intestinal flora.
Greens and veggies
Japanese Breakfast is very often made up of pickled vegetables, such as white radishes, cucumbers, and eggplant. More commonly known as Tsukemono in Japan, this technique involves keeping food in brine, vinegar, spices or shoyu (soy sauce).
Of course, green tea, hot or cold, accompanies the Japanese Breakfast quite a lot. Matcha is also widely used. It is a green powder also used as a natural dye in food. It is sifted before being mixed with hot water.
Finally, the miso soup, more often considered a drink than a dish, is a soup very rich in nutrients. About 75% of Japanese consume it at breakfast. The miso soup is composed, as its name suggests, of miso, in other words, a fermented soy paste and dashi, a Japanese broth made of seaweed.
What makes the ideal breakfast according to nutritionists
According to a recent article, Japanese children have the lowest obesity rate among developed countries and have in general the best nutritional indicator.
Their healthy school breakfast seems to be the main reason. Japanese kids have their breakfast at school and this breakfast would often consist of rice, grilled fish, spinach, soy sprouts, a miso soup, all accompanied by milk and prunes of other fruits.
So as other articles show, many nutritionists and health and diet specialists strongly recommend following the model of the Japanese Breakfast if you want to keep yourself and your kids healthy and obedity free.
And finally, here are some nice breakfast recipe ideas Japanese style:
We offer you a few extra-healthy Japanese breakfast recipes. With the main ingredients mentioned above, you will be able to prepare a nutritious and tasty breakfast, which would be suitable for both parents and children alike.
7 Easy Homemade Japanese Breakfast Recipes You and your Family will Love
1. Tamago kake gohan
Many Japanese also simply eat this as a normal meal at noon or for a dinner. Most often it is based on rice in addition with meat or vegetables.
Tamago-kake gohan is very simple and quick to prepare. It is a raw egg that you break aver a small bowl of rice and stir it while adding a little soy sauce on top.
I made and served mine with carrot pickles, but you can have marinated radish, kimchi or even cucumber sticks with it if you prefer.
Recipe for 1 person:
- 80-100 g Japanese sushi rice
- 1 very fresh egg
- Soy Sauce
1. Start by preparing the rice: wash it a lot of water, at least four times, until the water is clean. Put the rice in a saucepan, covering it with cold water, with enough water to cover the rice. Bring to a boil, with the lid on. Then lower the heat and stir regularly for about ten minutes until the water is largely absorbed and the rice is well cooked.
2. Put the hot rice in a bowl, dig a small “well” in the center. Break the raw egg directly over it and drizzle with a dash of soy sauce.
3. Mix everything so that the egg blends with the rice.
2. Japanese sandwich recipe (Tamago Sando)
A delicious Japanese sandwich recipe with quite an intense taste, which will make you happy for the rest of the day.
At first glance, Tamago Sando or egg sandwich looks like a simple egg sandwich you would make for your kid in the morning before school. But in reality, its taste is much more subtle and savory in the same time, which is the result of a wonderful combinatikn between eggs and Japanese mayonnaise(Kewpie) all wrapped between two slices of Shokupan, this yummy Japanese milk bread with its so special sweetness will easily become your favorite bread.
And the Japanese love it too!
Tamago Sando is a very simple sandwich to make. However, you will need the special Japanese Kewpie mayonnaise.
Instead of slices of Shokupan, you can still use normal bread without the crust, although the taste will be different than the real thing.
Let’s move on to the recipe (makes sandwiches for two people) :
Tamago Sando, the delicious Japanese egg sandwich
- 3 eggs
- 1/2 cup sugar
- 2 cups of milk
- 2 tbsp of Japanese mayonnaise (or a bit more if you like mayo a lot)
- 1 pinch of black pepper
- 2 lettuce leaves (optional)
- Butter (preferably salted)
Cook the three eggs for 12 minutes in hot water and add 2 tsp of white vinegar.
In a bowl, crush the eggs, add Japanese mayonnaise, sugar, milk and pepper. Mix well.
Spread butter on 4 slices of Shokupan (or white bread).
Lightly salt if you don’t use salted butter.
Spread half of the egg-mayo mixture between two slices of bread without spreading it too much.
If desired, you can add lettuce (optional).
Repeat the operation with the second half of the mixture and the remaining two slices of bread.
If your Tamago Sando is intended for a bento, it is better to cut them into 3 pieces.
Otherwise, cut them into triangles.
Note: at the end of the preparation, it’s left it to cool with a small tray on top of the sandwiches so that they are well compacted(makes for better sandwiches).
Extra Healthy Japanese Breakfast Recipe
You can make a more nutritious and tasty breakfast for the whole family with this healthy Japanese breakfast recipe. The range of rice, soup, protein and vegetables that make up the traditional Japanese breakfast will keep you satiated until lunch time, while bringing you so many essential nutrients.
Plus, Japanese breakfast is delicious and very nutritious and it looks quite nice too.
3. Japanese rice for breakfast recipe
- 125ml washed white rice
Put the rice in a saucepan with 125ml of water.
Cover and cook over high heat. Reduce to low heat when the water comes to a boil, and simmer for 15-20 minutes.
Remove the pan from the heat and steam (covered) for another 15-20 minutes.
Remove the lid, mix and serve along with other dishes either sweet or salty for breakfast.
4. Miso soup breakfast recipe
- 1-2 cups of miso
- 250ml diluted liquid dashi broth
- wakame algae (optional)
- tofu and noodles(optional)
Put a little water in a small saucepan. Add the miso and mix until a smooth mixture is obtained. Heat the dashi, Add it to the pan and mix well. (You can add wakame algae and tofu.) Serve with other dishes later in the day if you prefer.
5. Koji salmon for breakfast
- 150-200g salmon fillet
- 1 cup of shio koji paste
Spread the shio koji over the salmon fillet and leave to marinate for as long as possible (ideally 1 or 2 days). Then wipe off the excess shio koji and cook the salmon in a pan until the fish easily crumbles at the press of a fork. You can serve with other dishes too.
6. Green beans gomae (goma-ae) breakfast recipe
- 60g fresh green beans
- 1 cups sesame seeds
- 1 cup soy sauce
- 1 cup of sugar
Mix the sesame seeds with soy sauce, sugar and a little salt, until you get a thick mixture. Meanwhile, cook the green beans in a saucepan of boiling water until they get tender, then drain and quickly rinse under cold water. Put them in the mixture you made previously, while they are still hot and stir well.
Some advice for making your yummy Japanese breakfast at home
– Japanese breakfasts also often contains fermented ingredients, such as tsukemono (pickled vegetables) or natto (fermented soy beans), as well as a cup of green tea.
– Feel free to vary the pleasures. Choose shio koji salmon one morning, then opt for a hard-boiled egg the next day, and for half a block of tofu the next day. Prepare chopped fruits instead of goma-ae, or make different vegetables and Season them with Goma-ae dressing.
– The freshness of the ingredients is vital in Japanese cuisine, especially for simple dishes like these.
– Choose ingredients that are as fresh as possible.
7. Japanese Konjac Jelly Breakfast Recipe
An original palate pleasing jelly based on Japanese konjac. Rich in antioxidants and vitamins, this recipe is a nutritious dekight with a lot of benefits for your cellular youth.
Preparation time: 2 h : 20 min
Cooking time: 20 min
Difficulty: very easy
Ingredients for 2 people
- 2 large carrots
- 2 small onions
- 2 sprigs of coriander
- 1 tsp turmeric
- 2 tsp of agar-agar
- 2 tsp of olive oil
- 2 pinches salt
- 1 pc of pepper
- 150 g Japanese konjac gohan
- 1 glass of water
Preparation of the konjac jelly
Drain the Japanese konjac gohan in a colander and rinse thoroughly with cool water.
Wash and chop coriander. Peel the carrots, cutting both ends. Peel the onions and dice them. Put the carrots and onions in a saucepan with olive oil. Cook over low heat for 10 minutes. Then, wet the set with a glass of water and cook for 10 minutes over medium heat.
Strain the hot broth and add the agar-agar in it. Fill two small bowls with vegetables and gohan, sprinkle with coriander, then pour on top the liquid jelly. Cool, then put in the refrigerator for 2 hours.
Serve with with a fresh salad seasoned with lemongrass.
To learn more about Japan and its food culture, follow our latest articles at japanfoodstyle.com
Have you made such Japanese breakfast recipes before? Let us know in the comments.