While you might associate Japanese cuisine with Kobe beef and seafood, many Japanese staples are actually already vegan! This includes rice, seaweed, mushrooms, tofu, sesame seeds, and some vegetables! Even if you don’t cook vegan Japanese dishes, you probably already have some (if not all) of them in your kitchen. So why not try ?
Vegan Japanese cuisine is delicious and fun to prepare! Want to see for yourself? Try these 15 vegan Japanese recipes from our Food Monster app!
1. Yaki Onigiri: Japanese rice balls stuffed with sweet potato and avocado
Source: Yaki Onigiri: Japanese rice balls filled with sweet potato and avocado
Onigiri (stuffed rice balls) are a popular snack in Japan. Generally, onigiri are eaten cold, but they are yaki (meaning “fried”) and are best right after frying. A quick fry on a hot pan gives this Yaki Onigiri from Maikki Vasala a nice crispy texture. They’re even more delicious when dipped in homemade teriyaki sauce!
2. Maki rolls with pink oyster mushrooms
Source: Maki rolls with pink oyster mushrooms
These pink oyster mushroom maki rolls from Kirsten Kaminski are the perfect lovely dinner/lunch for yourself, friends or family! The beautiful pink color is made naturally with pink pitaya. Alternatively, you can opt for 3-4 different colors to make rainbow maki rolls, but that’s only if you’re feeling a bit more!
3. Vegetable Teppanyaki: lightly fried Japanese vegetables
Source: Vegetable Teppanyaki: lightly fried Japanese vegetables
Teppankaki is a simple Japanese dish consisting of lightly fried vegetables and usually served with rice. This Vegetable Teppanyaki from Raymund Macaalay uses julienned zucchini, carrots and white cabbage that are sautéed in a wok with a hot sauce. You can serve them as is or with the starch of your choice.
4. Ramen soup with mushrooms and vegetables
Source: Mushroom and vegetable ramen soup
This savory vegetable and mushroom ramen soup from Molly Ashworth is packed with fresh vegetables and mushrooms, with no shortage of noodles. This ten minute meal is just what you need on cold days! It can be spiced to your liking or seasoned with tamari for an extra umami flavor.
5. Naturally Sweet Red Bean Daifuku
Source: Naturally Sweet Red Bean Daifuku
Daifuku, also known as mochi in the United States, is one of the most popular wagashi (traditional Japanese sweets). It consists of a soft and chewy outer layer made from sweet rice flour with a sweet red bean filling called anko. Although traditionally vegan, daifuku can be very high in sugar. This Naturally Sweet Red Bean Daifuku recipe from Jasmine Briones cuts out the refined sugar, replacing coconut sugar and dates – but they still taste just as delicious, especially when paired with matcha green tea!
6. Somen Noodles with Nori Dressing
Source: Somen Noodles with Nori Dressing
Somen noodles are very thin white Japanese noodles made from wheat flour and are usually served cold. As this recipe for Somen Noodles with Nori Dressing from Lan Pham Wilson proves, it’s easy to make a delicious and hearty meal with Somen Noodles as your base. This Somen Bowl features a sweet and savory broth enriched with soy sauce and maple syrup, a refreshing seaweed vinaigrette, and plenty of toppings, including sliced cucumber, kimchi, scallions, and walnuts. Yum!
7. Japanese curry
Source: Japanese curry
Curry is one of the most popular dishes in Japan, but it’s not like Indian curries. Instead of starting with a masala paste like Indian curries, Sasha Gill’s British-influenced Japanese curry starts with a roux, giving it a sauce-like texture. This mild and spicy curry is made with an oil-free roux and it can be made gluten-free. It’s loaded with starchy and sweet potatoes, carrots, peas, apples, and a mix of warm spices. Serve with rice on the side.
8. Thank you very much matcha ice cream
Source: Thank you very much matcha ice cream
Buddhist monks drink matcha for its potential to increase focus and improve metabolism. So here’s a theory: if matcha is good for you, and there’s matcha in your ice cream… then that means ice cream is good for you? ! It’s the perfect recipe for Netflix-and-chill. You’ll love this Thank You Very Matcha Ice Cream from The Edgy Veg: 138 Carnivore-Approved Vegan Recipes!
9. Nikujaga: Japanese meat and potatoes
Source: Nikujaga: Japanese meat and potatoes
Nikujaga is a classic Japanese comfort food, something that every household prepares a little differently so everyone will crave the way their mother prepares it. Even if your mom never made it for you, you can still try this veganized Nikujaga recipe by Rachael Hutchings and make it your own!
10. Japanese carrot pickles
Source: Japanese Carrot Pickles
While these carrot pickles taste great on their own, their flavor and texture really shine when paired with other components. They are the perfect balance of vinegary and salty goodness. Whip up a jar of these Japanese Carrot Pickles from Bold Flavored Vegan Cooking and add them to any dish your heart desires.
11. Tofu Yasai Don: Japanese tofu rice bowl
Source: Tofu Yasai Don: Japanese tofu rice bowl
This donburi (Japanese rice bowl) takes a bit of chopping, but once it’s done, it comes together quickly and easily. Tofu, burdock root, shiitake mushrooms, Japanese sweet potato and more are simmered in a sweet umami sauce and served over a generous bed of rice. This Tofu Yasai Don from Rachael Hutchings is simple, yet delicious! Just be sure to start preparing the tofu about three days in advance so it’s ready when you need it.
12. Sweet Potato Tempura
Source: Sweet Potato Tempura
This sweet potato tempura roll from Kirsten Kaminski is filled with vegan cream cheese, crunchy vegetables, sweet potato tempura and creamy layers of avocado. It’s so easy to make and will quickly become one of your absolute favorites.
Source: Mango Mochi
Mochi is a traditional Japanese rice cake made from glutinous rice (also called sticky rice or sweet rice), most commonly molded into shapes and usually into rectangles or circles and eaten on special occasions and especially during festivals like the Japanese New Year. This Daphne Goh Mango Mochi recipe is vegan, dairy-free, nut-free, soy-free, corn-free, and refined sugar-free.
14. Gomashio: Japanese condiment with sesame seeds
Source: Gomashio: Japanese condiment with sesame seeds
This sprinkle of toasted sesame seeds and sea salt is the most commonly used condiment in the macrobiotic community, bringing freshness and flavor to many recipes. It adds a delicious accent to your cereal dishes. A pinch of gomashio on a serving of rice helps alkalize the blood and relieve fatigue. Due to the salt base, a moderate mixture of seeds and salt is recommended. The 18:1 ratio is considered average. Store-bought gomashio is usually much saltier – another reason to make this Gomashio from The One Peaceful World cookbook at home.
15. Okonomiyaki: Japanese savory pancakes
Source: Okonomiyaki: Japanese savory pancakes
Okonomiyaki is a type of savory Japanese pancake. Literally translated, it means “as you like it” and “grill”, because it is very customizable. Traditionally, it’s made with eggs and shredded cabbage, but this plant-based version replaces the eggs with nagaimo, a type of Japanese root vegetable that, when grated, can serve as a binder. This Okonomiyaki from The One Peaceful World Cookbook is delicious!
Inspired by these vegan Japanese recipes? Check out The Raindrop Cake and Ichigo Daifuku! If you want to know more about Japanese cuisine, take a look at our Ingredient Spotlight: Matcha, the super green tea that will help you relax and what is amazake? Learn more about this fermented and comfortable Japanese rice drink!
We also recommend downloading our Food Monster app, which is available for iPhone, and can also be found at instagram and Facebook. The app features over 15,000 plant-based and hypoallergenic recipes, and subscribers have access to new recipes every day. Check it out!
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