After a few years of studying Japanese I finally reached the level where I could read a book, so what was the first book I picked up in Japanese? A challenging Murakami novel? Nishima? Nope, it was a cookbook. I love cooking. Nothing makes me happier than creating new dishes or gaining new skills in the kitchen. Cookbooks are great, but there are times when one needs a little video guidance, and for those times I turn to these five Japanese cooking channels.
There is no denying that fish is a major part of Japanese cuisine, and love it or hate it, its versatility cannot be denied. One of my favorite Japanese cooking channels, Kimagure Cook, focuses on this Japanese staple in a way that always leaves me speechless. From prep to plate, Kimagure shows the proper way to clean, cut and cook various sea creatures. Yes, clean and cut: these videos do have a few scenes that some may find graphic if they are not used to preparing their own fresh fish.
Kimagure’s videos are all in Japanese but he is slowly adding English subtitles to his videos as he has a growing number of international subscribers. If you are a lover of Japanese seafood this is the channel for you.
As vegan and vegetarian restaurants are difficult to find in Tokyo, a YouTube channel dedicated to Japanese recipes made for vegans is worth its weight in internet currency. The channel is a sensory experience fusing cooking with ASMR. Every crunch, pop and simmer is all brought to you in crisp HD sound. The channel is super accessible with the cooking instructions written in both Japanese and English. The camera work is also a joy with amazing close-up shots and easy-to-follow instructions. The videos all have their own feel to them, and Aki takes time to not only make sure that the dishes look great, but the videos too.
Authentic and fun, Tasty Japan’s focus is on creating Japanese dishes that excite the viewer. More a cooking show than instructional video series, the various hosts of this channel cook a range of dishes from a bowl of classic Japanese pumpkin soup to quick ways to make Japanese pudding. Most of the videos have English subtitles and all the hosts are fun and energetic, making a 10-minute video feel like two. The bulk of the videos on the channel are less personality driven and focused more on what delicious dishes are being made. With a top-down camera angle pointed directly at the action; these are videos that are best not watched on an empty stomach.
With kid-friendly dishes, mother of two Ochikeron creates dishes that the whole family can cook together. The channel has a good split of videos with some being more simple dishes that would be fun to make with your kids to more advanced dishes that would take a little more time and energy. This makes the channel an easy one-stop-shop for finding family cooking projects (great during the coronavirus lockdown) to finding interesting dinner ideas for those who are bored of eating the same food.
With a wide selection of videos, this channel focuses on providing not only easy-to-make basic Japanese dishes but also pretty advanced dishes. From the simple fried rice to chanko nabe, a hot-pot style dish eaten during the winter months and loved by sumo wrestlers, Japanese Cooking 101 is an online catalog of Japanese cuisine. All the videos are in Japanese with a website connected to each video showing the full list of ingredients and a how-to-make section. Where all the other channels on this list do have a hint of entertainment to them, Japanese cooking 101, while interesting, is more cut and dry.
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