In Japanese cuisine, side dishes have been integral to our set meal concept. In this collection, I have curated 15 exceptional side dishes that range from vegetable accompaniments to dishes that can even outshine the main dish.
1. Agedashi Tofu (Japanese Deep Fried Tofu)
To me, Agedashi Tofu is a king of side dishes. It is made by coating tofu with potato starch or flour and deep-frying it before dipping it in a soy sauce-based broth.
I have perfected the batter and dashi in this recipe, providing restaurant-quality Agedashi Tofu at home while maintaining its authentic Japanese style. Enjoy this delicious dish from the comfort of your own home!
2. Addictive Izakaya Style Salted Cabbage (Yamitsuki Shio Cabbage)
This is definitely one of our readers’ favorites! Yamitsuki Cabbage is a simple yet addictive side dish with raw cabbage sprinkled with salt and other seasonings. It’s served in Izakayas and Yakiniku restaurants in Japan.
I created my own version of this dish, and after experimenting, I came up with a recipe that captures the same addictive quality you find in restaurants. It only takes about 5 minutes to prepare and is a cheap and easy way to bring a bit of Izakaya charm to your dining table.
3. Beef Shigureni (Simmered Wagyu with Ginger and Gobo)
Looking for a meaty side dish? Shigureni is a Japanese side dish made by simmering shellfish or beef in a combination of soy sauce and sugar. It has a robustly sweet taste and is typically served as a side dish or over rice.
The dish has a rich history dating back to the Edo period, and my recipe incorporates personal touches such as using white wine and light brown sugar. Enjoy the elegant and rich flavor of beef shigureni!
4. Hijiki Seaweed Salad (Hijiki no Nimono)
Hijiki no Nimono is a Japanese dish made with a type of seaweed called hijiki. Although it’s called “Hijiki salad,” it’s not a typical salad as it’s cooked rather than served raw. It’s a versatile dish in Japan, with ingredients varying across households.
In my version, I’ve added boiled soybeans, carrots, chikuwa, snow peas, and red pepper flakes to add some color and a hint of spiciness. Enjoy!
5. Chikuzenni (Nishime/Gameni) Simmered Chicken and Vegetables
Chikuzenni is a traditional Japanese dish made by simmering chicken, konnyaku, and root vegetables in dashi broth with soy sauce and sugar. It’s a well-balanced and flavorful dish that originated from Northern Kyushu and became popular in Japan after being introduced in school lunches.
It’s also an important element of a Japanese New Year’s meal due to its auspicious ingredients!
6. Nasu no Agebitashi (Deep Fried Eggplant in Dashi Broth)
Agebitashi is a Japanese cooking method that involves deep-frying ingredients and then soaking them in a seasoned broth. The most popular ingredient used is eggplant. The eggplant is quickly deep-fried and then soaked in a dashi broth seasoned with soy sauce and mirin.
It’s served chilled and best in summer. It’s an excellent side dish, especially if you have an abundance of eggplant!
7. Sesame Spinach Salad (Horenso no Goma-ae)
Goma-ae is a salad made of vegetables mixed with ground sesame seeds, sugar, soy sauce, and other seasonings. Spinach is the most popular ingredient, but other veggies can be used. Japanese-style restaurants sometimes use peanuts instead of sesame seeds.
This recipe is a tribute to traditional Japanese cuisine and a versatile addition to any meal. This easy-to-use side dish can complement a variety of main courses, adding a burst of flavor and a touch of comfort to your dining experience!
8. Spinach Ohitashi (Japanese Spinach Salad in Dashi)
Ohitashi is a Japanese side dish made by blanching vegetables and soaking them in dashi-based sauce. It preserves the natural flavor and texture of the vegetables while adding a light umami taste.
Spinach Ohitashi is a delicate side dish that complements a full meal, providing a refreshing break between bites of more robust flavors. It’s intentionally mild to enhance the overall meal without overpowering it. If you’re interested in making a Teishoku-style dish, try this recipe!
9. Dashimaki Tamago (Rolled Omelette with Dashi)
Dashimaki Tamago is a popular Japanese omelette dish made by beating eggs with Japanese condiments and cooked in a unique square frying pan.
Mastering the art of Dashimaki Tamago takes practice, but it sure is a fun experience! Here’s my recipe for the sweet version.
10. Simmered Kiriboshi Daikon Radish
Kiriboshi Daikon no Nimono is a popular Japanese side dish made with rehydrated daikon strips, carrots, mushrooms, and either satsuma-age or aburaage. It has a slightly sweet taste and pairs well with rice dishes.
It’s a beloved staple in many Japanese households, and this recipe aims to capture the authentic taste of traditional Japanese home-style cooking.
11. Kinpira Gobo (Braised Burdock Root)
Kinpira Gobo is a beloved Japanese side dish made by stir-frying burdock root with other vegetables and simmering it in a sweet and savory sauce. It’s quick and easy to prepare, versatile, and loved for its delightful crunch and flavor.
Try making it yourself and experience the joy of authentic Japanese home cooking!
12. Japanese Potato Salad (Izakaya Style)
Japanese-style potato salad, known as “Potesara,” is a popular side dish in Japan that has been around for over 100 years. Traditional Japanese potato salad is often sweet with a strong onion flavor, but adding bacon, parmesan cheese, and pepper gives it a savory depth and delightful texture in my recipe.
Try it with an evening drink for a perfect match with robust flavors!
13. Simmered Pumpkin (Kabocha no Nimono)
Kabocha no Nimono is a Japanese dish made by simmering kabocha pieces in a broth made with soy sauce, sake, and mirin. The soft flesh of kabocha absorbs the flavors of the broth, creating a flavorful side dish.
The recipe is a classic and comforting dish in Japanese home cooking, and my aim was to capture its authentic roots by enhancing the natural flavors of kabocha. Try this simple yet hearty dish and savor the taste of traditional Japanese home cooking!
14. Tako to Kyuri no Sunomono (Octopus and Cucumber Salad)
Sunomono is a simple Japanese dish made with fish, shellfish, and vegetables mixed with vinegar, soy sauce, and sugar. Octopus and cucumber sunomono is a regional dish from Sanuki, Japan, known for its slightly sweet octopus.
It’s a refreshing dish that complements a wide range of meals and is particularly cherished in traditional Japanese households. Try making it yourself and savor the unique, sour zest that makes this dish a beloved staple!
15. Pickled Cucumber with Ginger (Kyuri no Tsukemono)
Tsukemono means “pickles” in Japanese. They are an essential side dish to many Japanese meals, with cucumber pickles being particularly special.
This recipe adds a personal twist to traditional Japanese cucumber pickles by introducing ginger and chili for added flavor. It’s a quick and simple recipe that ensures a crisp and refreshing taste of homemade pickles without any hassle!
16. Niku Dofu (Japanese Simmered Beef and Tofu)
Niku Dofu is a simple side dish with thinly sliced beef, tofu, and onion. It was originally a local specialty of Kyoto, but now popular throughout Japan.
Although less known internationally, it’s easy to make at home and has a savory yet sweet taste. Try it yourself and experience a staple of Japanese home cooking!