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Opinion 30 easy vegan Japanese recipes

Kitchen Tips
Liv's author bio image

Author: Liv Published: February 8, 2024

Easy, delicious Japanese recipes – all 100% plant-based! Here’s how to make agedashi tofu, okonomiyaki, sushi, ramen, miso soup, golden curry, and more.

Exploring plant-based dishes from around the world is an amazing way of building up your vegan cooking repertoire – and when it comes to Japanese cuisine, there are some seriously incredible new flavour combinations to discover!

To prep your plant-based pantry for Japanese-style cooking, consider stocking your pantry with the following ingredients:

  • Firm tofu
  • Edamame beans
  • Pickled ginger
  • Shiitake mushrooms
  • Cucumber
  • Spring onions
  • Sesame oil
  • Mirin (Japanese sweet wine)
  • Rice vinegar
  • Soy sauce
  • Teriyaki sauce
  • Vegan Kewpie mayo
  • Miso paste
  • Nori (dried seaweed sheets)
  • Black / white sesame seeds
  • Chilli flakes
  • Panko bread crumbs
  • Short-grain Japanese rice
  • Udon / ramen / soba noodles 

I’ve rounded up some of my favourite recipes below to get you started. But if you’re interested in learning more about cooking authentic vegan Japanese food, be sure to follow Okonomi Kitchen and Plant-Based Matters for heaps of incredible info, advice, and all the Japanese recipe inspiration you could ever need!

1. Okonomiyaki (Savoury Pancake)

Image of a savoury Japanese pancake on a plate at a table setting, with a pair of chopsticks to the side.

Not only is plant-based okonomiyaki possible, it’s actually really easy to make! These savoury, shredded cabbage pancakes taste just as indulgent as the traditional recipe.

2. Agedashi Tofu

An overhead image of tofu in a small bowl with umami sauce, surrounded by small bowls with toppings and condiments.

Agedashi tofu – deep-fried tofu served in a bowl of umami sauce – is an incredibly popular dish at Japanese restaurants, and now you can make it at home too.

3. Vegan Onigiri with Tofu Tuna Mayo

A frontal image of triangular onigiri with squares of seaweed on a rectangular serving platter.

One of the most iconic fillings for onigiri – or Japanese rice balls – is ‘tuna mayo’, which is surprisingly easy to veganise! This recipe uses tofu as the base.

4. Matcha Green Tea Cupcakes with Vegan Cream Cheese Frosting

An image of a green tea matcha cupcake with white frosting with a chunk taken out, revealing a light and fluffy texture.

These green matcha cupcakes are the sweet treat you never knew you needed. If you can’t find vegan cream cheese in stores, try making your own or using vegan cream instead.

5. Miso Ramen with Spicy Tofu

An overhead shot of a bowl of ramen noodles with tofu cubes at a table setting, with small bowls of seasonings to the side.

Aside from tasting like pure happiness in a bowl, this miso and spicy tofu ramen recipe also happens to be chock-full of wholefoods and ridiculously nourishing.

6. Inari Sushi

Inari being held up to camera showing fluffy rice in a thin deep-fried pocket.

Inari are little balls of seasoned rice stuffed into deep-fried bean curd pockets (which you can find in most Asian grocery stores). Perfect as a quick snack or side dish.

7. Japanese-Style Vegetable Curry

An overhead shot of a table setting with a bowl of curry and rice. The curry is in a golden sauce and shows big chunks of carrot and potato.

If you’re looking for a plant-based Japanese dinner that’s as delicious as it is nourishing, look no further than this golden, veggie-packed curry. 

8. Vegan Yakitori

Four meaty looking skewer made from seitan on a green plate.

This ingenious seitan recipe uses a magical blend of herbs, seasonings, and sauces to replicate the meatiness and spice of yakitori skewers.

9. Panko Fried Tofu Sandwich with Japanese BBQ Sauce

Two rectangular sandwiches with thick chunks of BBQ sauce-laden tofu, cut neatly with crusts off.

So simple, yet so satisfying! The punchy garlic-and-ginger BBQ sauce is what ties this crispy, crunchy tofu sandwich together. Keep it minimalist or amp it up by adding extra veg.

10. Edamame with Soy & Sesame Sauce

A serving bowl with edamame pods sits next to a small individual serve in a bowl.

Everyone’s favourite Japanese starter happens to already be vegan! Here’s how to whip up your own fried edamame pods, using sesame oil and soy sauce for seasoning.

11. Creamy Soy Milk Ramen

An overhead shot of ramen noodles in a bowl in a creamy broth, served with baby corn and Asian greens.

This indulgent soy milk ramen is the epitome of vegan Japanese comfort food – and a great way to give new life to any forgotten veggies you have sitting in the back of the fridge.

12. Vegan Tofu Fish Fillets with Crispy Skin

A large fillet of crispy tofu wrapped in seaweed.

There are lots of ways to make plant-based seafood, but this has to be one of the most innovative: A fillet made of tofu, with a crispy seaweed skin for that fishy flavour.

13. Sushi with Teriyaki Tofu & Black Rice

A purple plate featuring sushi made with black rice.

Once you realise how easy it is to roll your own sushi at home, you’ll never want to stop. This easy recipe calls for teriyaki sauce, which is a great staple to have in your plant-based pantry.

14. Vegan Purin (Japanese Crème Caramel)

A side view of Purin, which looks like a creme caramel, with a bite taken out to show the smooth texture.

Purin is a sweet custard dessert that’s drizzled with bitter-sweet caramel – and it’s one of the most popular desserts in Japan for a reason.

15. King Oyster Mushroom ‘Fish’ Nigiri Sushi

Sushi on a serving tray topped with 'fish' made from king oyster muyshrooms.

Vegan sushi never looked so real! The ‘fish’ in this one is made from king oyster mushroom, and topped with onion, scallions, wasabi, and lime. 

16. Soba Noodles with Edamame, Black Sesame & Spicy Tofu

Overhead image of a bowl of soba noodles with tofu, ginger, and greens at a place setting on a white table.

Featuring sticky, spicy tofu, pickled ginger, cucumber, edamame beans, and black sesame, this soba noodle dish strikes the perfect balance between fresh and filling.

17. Vegan Spicy Tomato ‘Tuna’

Overhead shot of a bowl on a bench filled with a creamy orange/red looking 'tuna' mix.

Who knew you could make absolutely addictive vegan tuna out of tomato? Adapt this recipe to make spicy ‘tuna’ sushi, or just serve the finished product with rice and veggies. 

Don’t fancy making your own vegan fish from scratch? Check out all these plant-based seafood products you can buy ready-made in Australia.

18. Furikake & Oat Butter Rice 

A plate of rice topped with seasonings and a dollop of oat butter.

Furikake – a Japanese seasoning made with toasted sesame seeds, salt, sugar, and nori (dried seaweed) – is the ultimate secret ingredient for making rich, umami-flavoured rice. 

19. Quick-Pickled Japanese Cucumbers

Overhead image of a bowl of pickled cucumbers topped with sesame seeds.

This one-step recipe for quick-pickled Japanese cucumbers couldn’t be simpler … and their fresh, tangy crunch is the perfect accompaniment to any of these plates.

20. Vegan Japanese Curry with Golden Tofu & Veggies

Overhead image of a bowl of curry. The veg are cut decoratively and the rice is served over top in the shape of a bear, with edible details.

For a classic Japanese dish that’s almost too cute to eat, you have to try this mushroom and vegetable curry. Bear optional but encouraged!

21. Japanese Mayonnaise (Kewpie Mayo)

A small tub of Japanese mayo sits on a bench beside a squeeze bottle labelled "Kewpie Mayo".

Vegan-friendly Kewpie mayo is an absolute must-have in your kitchen if you’re into Japanese food. You can make your own from scratch using this nifty recipe – or buy it online from a number of vegan-friendly retailers.

22. Cold Soba Noodles with Tangelo Dashi 

A neat pile of soba noodles sit on a plate with a round side bowl of dashi and chopsticks.

Try this refreshing summer recipe for a sweet-and-sour, citrusy take on a Japanese classic. Tangelo dashi and sesame-sprinkled soba noodles are a match made in heaven.

23. Japanese Fruit Sandwiches

Two varieties of fruit sandwiches sit neatly on a plate outside. One has strawberry and cream, the other mandarin and kiwi fruit.

These sweet little Japanese fruit sandwiches would look right at home at a high tea or sunny picnic in the park! 

24. Baked Miso Eggplant 

Three eggplant halves sit in a bowl covered in a miso glaze.

This is the dish that made me fall in love with eggplant! Slathered in miso-maple marinade and cooked to perfection, each bite practically melts in your mouth. 

25. Vegan Cold Ramen with Sesame Sauce

A bowl of ramen noodles in a creamy broth.

Proof that hot summer weather and indulgent comfort food can coexist! This cold ramen recipe is a surprisingly refreshing favourite.

26. Miso Soup

Mushroom, tofu, and greens in a bowl with clear broth.

No wonder this ancient food has been a staple in Asian cuisines for over a thousand years – it’s quick, comforting, and laden with plant-based ingredients that aid in healthy digestion.

27. Soba Noodles with Smashed Cucumber & Sesame 

A refreshing looking bowl of soba noodles with greens.

This light soba noodle salad contrasts toasty, nutty flavours with the fresh crunch of cucumber, the heat of chilli flakes, and the umami sweetness of soy and sesame dressing. 

28. Garlic Fried Rice

A bowl of rice topped with crispy fried garlic.

I’ll be real with you, I can’t think of three words that go better together than garlic fried rice. Why make plain white rice when this is an option?!

29. Avocado & Finger Lime Sushi 

A neatly cut roll of sushi served on a tray with a side of finger lime.

An Australian-inspired twist on traditional avocado rolls – the sprinkle of finger lime on top adds an extra pop of brightness and zingy flavour.

30. Tofu & Edamame Stir Fry

An image of a stir-fry with noodles, and crispy fried tofu.

Japanese-style stir fries are great go-tos if you’re short on time or energy. Once you’ve cooked the edamame and soba noodles, it’s just a matter of throwing it all in the pan.

There’s a whole wide world of plant-based food to explore!

For more plant-based Japanese meal inspiration, try these cookbooks:

And then check out these other vegan-friendly global cuisines to inspire you in the kitchen.

Liv's author bio image

Meet Liv!

Having grown up in a “meat and 3 veg” kind of household, Liv’s embarrassed to admit that she was a bit of a one-note chef until she began exploring the world of plant-based food. Vegan cooking has given her a whole new appreciation for the symphonies of flavours that simple, nourishing wholefood ingredients can create. (Even eggplant, once her greatest nemesis, is now — in a delicious, miso-glazed redemption arc — her all-time favourite veg.)

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