This is a continuation of my mini series about Bento! To see my other posts:
It is important to have some great sources for recipes--there is nothing more disappointing than trying out a recipe that you found online and purchased all the ingredients only for it to not turn out.
I highly recommend buying or checking your local library for the Just Bento cookbook. It will slowly show you simple recipes that you can use for bento or daily cooking. It includes sections on both Asian style dishes and Western ones.
For perfecting Japanese dishes, there are several amazing YouTubers you need to watch:
Cooking with Dog: the host mom-okaasan you would dream of having
Here you will get the most conservative, traditional ways of cooking Japanese favorites. This is where you can learn how to do things exactly right. She is an amazing Japanese lady with a poodle named Francis who narrates the recipes.
Runnyrunny999: Entertaining videos with great recipes
Here you can learn the basics too. He has some adaptations in his recipes and some amazing recipes that I keep coming back to. (Forever using his Shogayaki and Kari Kari potato recipes) Absolutely hilarious and lovable personality. Even after growing in popularity you still feel like he really connects with viewers with his conversations at the end of the videos.
Ochikeron: Innovative recipes
Here you will find some basic Japanese recipes but she really tries to use ingredients that are easily available in the West. Many of her recipes as a result are adapted for this reason. Also, she likes to post new recipe trends from Japan! (She is so cute and sweet--and a new mommy, too.) Her mochi ice cream and matcha latte recipes are great. (and the mochi waffles work too!)
Namiko Chen: Covers all the basics
Has a great website at JustOneCookbook.com. She is beginning to post recipes in video which really helps supplement the online recipes. Great place to look for basic sauce recipes, making dashi stock, etc.
I think videos are the best way to learn. You see everything step by step.
BUT! The holy grail of mine for finding Japanese recipes is en.cookpad.com--now washoku guide. This website started out as cookpad.com and had all recipes in Japanese from Japanese posters. Now, they created a sister site with translated recipes, and also recipes that people from all over the world can post. (You can try to find my account on there, it's PescaMaryan of course)
You can find just about ANY Japanese recipe. You'll find the basics like how to make dashi stock, how to make miso soup, etc. And you can find crazy stuff about making your own miso or your own homemade udon noodles. (Bo tells me: "Mary, you are NOT making your own miso!" Maybe that's just a little too ambitious for me!)
This website is fantastic because you can search for ingredients you have on hand and get an idea for recipes that will use them. For example, maybe you have tons of cabbage--they'll be plenty of recipes titled "Use up all that cabbage"! Or you just bought a new ingredient--such as umeboshi--you can have a whole list of recipes to get a great idea how to use it.
I prefer to stick with the translated recipes from Cookpad. I recommend creating an account, and "favoriting" the recipes you like. You can easily create tags and search your favorites from your computer or from the mobile app. There is a section of the website that categorizes Japanese recipes, but this will not get you ALL of the translated recipes. To find and search out of this pool of recipes exclusively, click on a recipe posted by "cookpad Japan" (just search some Japanese recipe like tonkatsu, and they'll be plenty). Then click "recipes". Here you'll be able to search through all of the translated ones. Of course, you can search in the regular search bar, but sometimes you'll get recipes by random people that may not always be the most authentic.
In addition, websites such as Just Bento have some great posts on Japanese cooking and bento basics. I love the furikake recipes and all the articles Maki posts about special topics such as starting your own Japanese herb garden, or ways to use okara from soybean pulp.
I don't find Japanese recipes to be difficult--do not be intimidated to try new things, that is the best way to learn.
Mary ´◡` ♡