There might be something to the adage "an apple a day, keeps the doctor away."

As many know, Japan has the longest life expectancy of any country in the world. This is despite stressful work schedules and relatively high rates of cigarette consumption.

So what's their secret? A 2015 study conducted by the government looked at the relationship between residents' diet and life expectancy. It found that the typical Japanese diet was associated with lower mortality rates. Essentially, consuming high amounts of grains and vegetables and low amounts of processed foods and saturated fats was making for a healthier population. The country is also renowned for a number of super-foods like green tea and natto that provide extra health benefits.

That's all fine and good, but if you're clumsy in the kitchen, that information alone provides you with very little good. Furthermore, some Japanese dishes are centered around ingredients and techniques unfamiliar to westerners. Fortunately, YouTuber Kimono Mom has gone out of her way to teach Japanese recipes online. With her toddler nearby, she focuses on home-cooked meals that anyone can make and everyone can enjoy.


First up is a classic: okonomiyaki お好み焼き is a kind of savory pancake packed with cabbage, meat or seafood, and occasionally cheese. I sometimes hear it referred to as "Japanese pizza" by shop owners, although they may just be hoping to tempt a hungry foreigner walking by. As Kimono Mom explains, it's a pretty simple recipe.

On this occasion, you’ll need some cabbage, flour, eggs, okonomiyaki sauce, and sliced pork, although you can throw in other things if desired. Slice the cabbage into medium to small-sized chunks. These chunks will help the pancake retain consistency, so it's likely best not to chop too finely.

Next, cut the pork and mix the flour, water, an egg, and dashi powder (if desired). Add the batter to the cabbage and mix thoroughly. Apply a large amount of oil to a frying pan or skillet and heat. Add the batter and lay the sliced pork on top of the cake. Just like a pancake, cook the okonomiyaki on low heat on both sides. Each side will take about five minutes.

Once the okonomiyaki is browned and thoroughly cooked, cover with a hearty amount of sauce, mayonnaise, as well as seaweed flakes and bonito flakes. You can slice it with a spatula, but it is probably just as easy to eat with a fork and knife.

Oyako-Don Rice Bowl

Donburi 丼, or rice bowls, are typical meals in Japan. While delicious, they are usually pretty easy to make. Prepare a set of meat and other ingredients, and put it on rice. Voila.

Today, Kimono Mom is making oyako-don 親子丼, scrambled egg and grilled chicken rice bowls. Very simple, and just as delicious

For this simple rice bowl recipe, you'll need rice—go figure—an onion, three eggs, a cut of chicken, dashi stock, sugar, soy sauce, mirin みりん or 味醂 (cooking rice wine), and greens for garnish. Cook the rice and set it aside. Chop the onion into small bits and the chicken into bite-size pieces. Beat the eggs lightly and add the dashi and the other liquid ingredients to a heated pot. Once the liquid ingredients are heated, add the onion and chicken. Allow the concoction to simmer on medium heat until the chicken is cooked—about 5-10 minutes.

Finally, add the eggs to the cooked mixture. The eggs will cook quickly, in a minute or less. Once done, pour the ingredients onto rice, and you're ready to eat. Overall, oyako-don makes for a very hearty breakfast or a leisurely lunch.

Shōgayaki Pork

Pork is the most popular meat in Japan, so it's no wonder it's featured twice in this post. And the way Kimono Mom makes shōgayaki pork 豚の生姜焼き, ginger stir-fried pork, is mouth-watering to be sure.

For this recipe, you'll need to get yourself some pork, ginger, cabbage, soy sauce, mirin, sake, and an onion. Start by washing and grating the ginger, and, in a separate bowl, mixing the wet ingredients. Shred the cabbage somewhat finely while chopping the onion into large chunks.

To flavor the pork, you can either marinate it in the liquid ingredients and ginger or cover it in flour and stir-fry it. This time, Kimono Mom has chosen to use flour, which helps the pork absorb the sauce's flavor.

After the pork is prepared, heat a generous amount of oil in a frypan. Fry the pork. Afterward, stir fry the onions. Once translucent, return the pork to the pan and cover everything with the sauce and ginger. Spread the sauce evenly and stir-fry for a few minutes. Finally, make a bed of cabbage and lay on the pork and garnish. Serve with rice. Bon appetit.

By - Luke Mahoney.