TRADITIONAL JAPANESE FOODS
Japan is known for its delicious, varied cuisine consisting of mostly fish, rice, and vegetables. What’s your favorite?
One of our family favorites. When we think of Japan, we immediately conjure images of quaint tea houses, sushi, geishas, kimonos, origami, bento boxes, and steaming bowls of rice and miso soup. Japan is known for its unique and delicious cuisine or “washoku,” which means “cooking.” What’s on the menu that you crave?
- Sushi is, of course, one of the most popular and well-known foods associated with Japanese culture. Raw fish served with specially prepared vinegared rice is the classic sushi combo. Other types of seafood (other than just raw fish) are served at a sushi restaurant such as crab, lobster, shrimp, eel, octopus, squid, sea urchin or “uni” (usually served with a raw quail egg on top), and fish roe. The most common types of raw fish include yellowtail, tuna, and salmon.
- Popular side dishes at a sushi restaurant include miso soup, rice, seaweed salad, and other raw vegetables such as cucumber and avocado. Fresh ginger is also served with a meal to cleanse the palate, while wasabi is a spicy garnish used for intense flavor. Of course, soy sauce is also served on the side but is unnecessary with really good sushi. Don’t forget your chopsticks!
- Sashimi is raw fish but, instead of paired with rice, is served with a vegetable (such as radish) or eaten plain.
- Maki is a type of bite-sized dish consisting of raw (and sometimes cooked) fish and vegetables rolled together in seaweed or “nori.”
- Nattō is a healthy favorite made from soybeans and is usually served for breakfast. The dish’s name comes from “Bacillus subtilis var. natto” as this plays a huge role in how the soybeans are prepared: they are actually fermented in this immune-boosting bacterium.
- Edamame is a salted preparation of soybeans while in the pod. One simply pops them out of the shell into their mouth for a savory snack.
- Tsukemono are preserved or pickled vegetables and are used for garnishing a meal or eaten during a special course at a traditional dinner called “Kaiseki.”
- Tempura is a dish of battered and fried meat and/or vegetables. The most common thing wethink of when we hear “tempura” is the famous flaky shrimp delight.
- Tofu is also incredibly prevalent in Japanese dishes: whether it’s cut into tiny cubes in miso soup or fried and served on its own, there are a myriad of ways to prepare tofu and it’s a huge part of Japan’s diet.
- Ramen is a delicious and savory Japanese soup complete with, most often, pork as the main meat ingredient. Known for its broth and, of course, noodles, the soup is usually served with an egg, mushrooms, bamboo shoots, bean sprouts, seaweed, and Naruto (a slice of cured fish with the famous pink swirl in the center) on top.
- Udon is a thick wheat noodle and is usually served in soup.
- Soba is a thin buckwheat noodle.
- Green tea is, of course, a classic, healthy favorite. Served before or after meals, it’s extremely prevalent in Japanese culture.
- Saké is Japanese wine made from fermented rice and is a favorite among adults. Served hot or cold, it’s the perfect way for friends to gather and make toasts for the future. Children usually drink some sort of milk, fruit-infused or even red bean tea, coconut milk, or carbonated soda.
What’s for Dessert?
- Anpan is a sweet roll filled with red bean paste.
- Green Tea and Red Bean Ice Cream because who doesn’t love ice cream?
- Anmitsu is an ancient dessert made from red algae. In the form of a jelly, this dessert is usually served in cubes with fruit as a garnish.
- Mochi is a yummy rice cake that is smoothed and kneaded into a paste.
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