Tenuki Ryori(手抜き料理)



December in the traditional Japanese calendar is called “Shiwasu” (師走). (shi) means “Buddhist monk”, and 走 (wasu) means “run”. It is suggesting a month filled with the hustle and bustle that even the very calm monk would run around to get things done. It reflects the busy preparations and activities that often take place in December leading up to the New Year.

What is Tenuki ryori?

On top of the already busy, fast-paced modern world, this season can be quite hard to spare time for preparing food. That’s when “手抜き料理” (Tenuki ryori) comes in. It is a Japanese term that can be translated as “easy/simple cooking” or “shortcut cooking.” The literal translation is “cooking with hands off” or “skipping steps.” It refers to dishes that are quick and easy to prepare, often involving shortcuts or simplified cooking methods. 

Ideas of Tenuki ryori: Donburi

It is a popular Japanese dish that consists of a bowl of rice topped with various ingredients. The name “donburi” comes from the bowl (donburi) in which the dish is served. Following is a few examples. 

Gyudon (牛丼):

This is one of the most popular and widely recognized donburi dishes. Gyudon features thinly sliced beef cooked in a sweet and savory soy-based broth, served on top of a bowl of steamed rice. It is often garnished with onions and sometimes topped with a raw or soft-cooked egg.

Oyakodon (親子丼):

Oyakodon translates to “parent and child bowl.” (I feel like the name is a bit horrifying…) It typically features bite-sized pieces of chicken and beaten eggs simmered in a soy-based broth with onions. The mixture is then poured over a bowl of rice.

Tekkadon (鉄火丼):

Tekkadon features thinly sliced raw tuna (maguro) arranged on top of a bowl of rice. It is a popular choice for sushi lovers who want a different presentation of tuna.

Ideas of Tenuki ryori: Noodles

Japan has a rich variety of noodles, and they play a significant role in Japanese cuisine. All the noodles listed below can be purchased in a store. All you need to do is put in a pot of boiled water to cook, then enjoy with soup broth or seasonings with a few additional ingredients. Here are some of the most popular types of noodles eaten in Japan:

Soba (蕎麦): 

Soba noodles are thin, brown-gray noodles made from buckwheat flour. They can be served hot or cold and are commonly enjoyed with a dipping sauce (tsuyu) or in a hot broth.

Udon (うどん):

Udon noodles are thick, chewy wheat noodles. They are often served in a mild soy-based broth and can be enjoyed hot or cold with some toppings.

Yakisoba (焼きそば):

Yakisoba consists of stir-fried wheat noodles with vegetables (onions, carrots, cabbage, and/or bean sprout), meat (usually thinly sliced pork), and a sweet and savory Worcestershire-based sauce. Despite its name, yakisoba is not grilled but stir-fried.

Cooking method

You can also use different cooking methods to cook food faster with minimum supervision.


Using a microwave is a quick way, and probably the most popular way to cook or reheat food fast. Many people utilize the microwave for tasks like cooking vegetables, steaming meat, and even making soup without a pot.

Rice cooker:

It is not only to cook rice but also some vegetables, meat, fish and dumplings at the same time. You can also make donburi which I’ve mentioned earlier, but cooked all at once in the rice cooker.

Pressure cooker:

Traditionally, people used pressure cooker which is used on top of the cooking stove. But in recent years, the electric pressure cooker has become popular and safer, and more people are using pressure cookers for easy and faster methods of cooking.
The term “Tenuki ryori” often suggests a level of efficiency and practicality in the kitchen. Many Japanese home cooks appreciate the balance between convenience and flavor, especially in today’s fast-paced lifestyle. I am often amazed by the methods people come up with in order to make foods so efficiently without losing the flavor. If you don’t have a lot of time to cook, search “Tenuki ryori recipe” online. You will find so many ideas to go through this busy season.