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Just One Place for Easy Japanese Recipes

“Many of you grew up eating Japanese food prepared by your grandmother or mother. I would like to encourage you to try making these natsukashii (nostalgic) dishes at home. You will be surprised how much joy it will bring you! Food has the ability to connect the present and the past. It also plays a big part in preserving our cultures and traditions. I would be very happy if Just One Cookbook became a reliable source for your daily Japanese meals, and helped bring your family closer with dishes everyone can enjoy.”

Namiko Chen, founder, justonecookbook.com

When Namiko Chen first began sharing family recipes with friends on Facebook in late 2009, she never quite imagined that it would morph into justonecookbook.com—now the number one web resource for Japanese recipes in English. A significant portion of the thousands of comments and likes on her expanding recipe archive are from sansei and yonsei Japanese Americans, who are learning how to cook up flavors from their childhood for the first time. That discovery encouraged her to do an interview with Discover Nikkei and make herself more accessible to the Nikkei community as a whole.

Cooking never figured into Chen’s life plan when she was growing up in Yokohama, Japan. “I wasn’t that enthusiastic about cooking when I was young,” she admits. “Since elementary school, my mom had a four o’clock rule: I learned how to cook by watching her prepare meals every day. She would tell me all the techniques and tips while she was cooking, but honestly I was always thinking about what I could do if I wasn’t in the kitchen.”

Yakisoba

That attitude only really changed after Chen moved to the US in 1997. She felt homesick for Japan and she had American children that she wanted to introduce to Japanese cuisine. “I was actually surprised that I could still cook up a lot of the dishes that my mom used to make,” Chen says. “After my children were born, I became more interested in cooking as I wanted to provide healthy, home-cooked meals for my family.”

As she got more practice, Chen began sharing her recipes over email and on Facebook with friends. The inconvenience of that method led her to start blogging in 2011. Over the last six years, her website, which features tasty recipes and step-by-step pictures, has steadily matured and drawn numerous followers. Today, justonecookbook.com boasts one million unique visitors every month. In addition, Chen has 250,000 Facebook followers and 260,000 YouTube channel subscribers, and five employees who have joined her team to assist with marketing, social media, video editing, and web design.

Chen now works on her website full-time and expresses pride that, from its humble beginnings, her blog has become a go-to recipe archive for many in the Japanese American community. Dozens of sansei and yonsei have reached out over the past few years alone, telling Chen that they had never cooked Japanese food at home before but are now able to recreate the recipes of their obaasan using her online tutorials.

Pressure Cooker (Instant Pot) Japanese Curry

Some of the recipes are not for beginners. Chen recommends that beginning cooks start off with dishes that are quick and easy to make, like yakisoba, katsudon, gyudon, oyakodon, potato salad, and Japanese chicken curry. As their confidence grows, they can go on to try something like korokke, her own personal favorite.

Chen grew up eating korokke and speaks of it enthusiastically. “It’s a mixture of mashed potatoes, sweet caramelized onions, and juicy Japanese wagyu beef shaped into oval patties,” she  said. “When it’s made right, this humble home-cooked dish is simply amazing!”

Readers can search the archive for recipes using ingredient names, dish names, or type of dish (appetizer, main course, etc.). Favorites include gyoza, green tea chocolate, and Japanese strawberry shortcake.

Chen’s website is perfect for English-speaking lovers of Japanese cooking. I can personally attest to the wide variety of recipes available there, and to the deliciousness of the recipe for my own favorite dish—nikuman. Visit justonecookbook.com to learn more. Happy cooking!

Baked Katsudon
Gyudon
Baked Korokke

 

© 2017 Kimiko Medlock

food Just One Cookbook Namiko Chen