The Japanese are very good with arranging and mix matching cuisines from different parts of the world and making it their own version as “Japanese Food”. There are dishes that have been enjoyed by Japanese people for a long time, but there are those that have been introduced from other countries arranged and evolved to suit the taste of the Japanese. Let’s look into the most popular dishes in Japanese cuisine.
Ramen, as you may be able to tell by its alternative name “Chinese Soba”, it originated as part of Chinese cuisine. This is prepared by adding salt water to flour to noodles, and the various spices are added to the chicken broth soup. This made its own unique change in Japan, and it has now created various “Local Ramens” in different part of Japan that adds the flavor of its own local ingredients. Various types and ingredients taken to make the soup such as pork bone broth, seafood and vegetables are now also used and made into different kinds of ramen such as miso ramen, soy sauce ramen, sio(salt) ramen.
In popular ramen houses, it isn’t rare that there are long waiting lines of customers in front of a restaurant just to wait for a bowl of ramen. There is also a number of ramen shops, and a variety of flavors that can be enjoyed.
Sushi and sashimi 寿司と刺身
Sashimi refers to the thinly sliced raw fish dipped in soy sauced and enjoyed with wasabi. Freshness of the fish is the life of sashimi, and the isolated geographical stand of Japan surrounded by water, it may be something unique to Japan. When you bring this sashimi and pair it with vinegared rice, it turns into sushi. Originally, sushi referred to a sour dish called () that prepared by fermented sushi with rice, and this evolved to being hand-rolled sushi, pressed sushi, unrolled sushi.
You may think sushi is a very expensive cuisine, but there are also “Conveyer Belt Sushis” that are relatively cheap with a dish being around 120 Yen.
However, the more traditional sushi restaurants has an actual sushi chef preparing each dish making them more enjoyable and delicious.
Tempura is vegetables or seafood dipped in batter with flour, eggs and water mixed together, and deep fried in oil. It is a dish that has been enjoyed since the Edo era introduced by the Christian missionaries along with other European cuisines. Now, it has evolved into a dish that utilizes ingredients that can be picked locally in Japan, and has become one of the representing dishes of Japanese cuisine.
You may also enjoy tempura by putting grated radish into the special tempura sauce, or eat it with salt. There are also various vegetables and seafood prepared as tempura.
IShabu shabu is a simple cuisine with thinly sliced beef and vegetables dipped for a couple of seconds in boiling water with soup stock, again dipped in typically two types of sauce, ponzu vinegar sauce or sesame seed sauce. The excess fat of the meat is washed off in the boiling water, and a copious amount of vegetables is eaten, making it a well-balanced healthy meal to enjoy. There are also shabu shabu that uses other ingredients such as pork, chicken, yellowtail fish, sea bream.
There are a variety of shabu shabu restaurants from high-end to reasonably priced restaurants.
Curry rice カレーライス
Curry uses various spices to stew meat and vegetables and poured on top of rice. Originating from India, the curry enjoyed in Japan is a bit different from the curry you may find in India. With it’s history of being colonized by the United Kingdom, there was a version of the dish where flour was used to add thickness, and this was introduced to Japan in the Meiji era. By the Taishou era, Japanese potatoes and carrots have been added molding the current shape which is known as Japanese curry. It has become a classic dish in the Japanese household.
There are many curry roux sold at grocery stores, and just by stewing this with vegetables and meat, you can make Japanese curry. It’s a staple menu both at home and at restaurants.
Yakiniku (Grilled meat) 焼肉
Japanese yakiniku or barbeque has thinly sliced bite-size meat lightly dipped in sauce, which is then roasted on an iron plate. When you hear barbeque, it is often thought of as a Korean cuisine, but in Samgyeopsal-style of eating, by cooking pork on an iron plate while chopping it with scissors, then it is put on a Korean lettuce or sesame leaves together with miso and other condiments is the most common type of eating Korean barbeque. In contrast, in Japan, beef is cooked quickly and eaten right away. This is another dish enjoyed both at restaurants and at home by using a hot plate.
Vegetables are also cooked together on a plate. Another characteristic about Japanese BBQ is that other than meat staples of pork offal, beef tongue, other parts can also be cooked and enjoyed.
Karaage(fried ) 唐揚げ
Karaage is dipping chicken, vegetables, or fish in flour and starch, then deep frying it in oil. The most popular is chicken Karaage, but any type of ingredient can be fried as a Karaage. It is also a staple in Japanese obento. There are a variety of ways it can be prepared, some dip it in special sauce before dipping in flour and starch, and some add more salty flavors. Try and have some freshly fried Karaage, but be careful of burning yourself.
To make udon noodles, a small amount of salt water is added to flour which is kneaded into thick noodle strands. After boiling the water, you can enjoy it with soup or dip it in thick broth. In the Kansai region of Japan, the soup has a lighter color, and in the Northern Kanto region it is more common to see soy sauce based thick soup. Sanuki udon, Inaniwa udon, Mizusawada udon, Himi udon are some of the examples of the famous udon from different parts of the country.
There have also been newer kinds of udon where boiled noodles are being cooled down in cold water, and dipped in sauce.
“Ton” of Tonkotsu means pork in Japanese, and it originates from the thinly sliced pork covered in bread crumbs “Cutlet”. This eventually evolved to a battered thick sliced pork. The pork loin and tenderloin are battered in the order of flour, egg, then bread crumbs, and it is deep-fried. It is usually paired with shredded cabbage and sauce, with a pinch of table mustard and you’re ready for a scrumptious Tonkatsu meal.
Takoyaki is probably the most famous food from Osaka which is also a Japan originated flour based dish. It is known to be the soul food of Osaka. An iron plate with a concaved small half circle is used to cook takoyaki. Flour dissolved in water is poured into the iron plate, then octopus cut in bite sizes, red pickled ginger, welsh onions are mixed in. The small takoyaki balls are then flipped around quickly. For the finishing, sauce, dried seaweed, dried bonito are sprinkled on top. More recently, there are popular sauces that add mayonnaise and soy sauce.
You may add salt or put in dashi or Japanese soup stock. Take note, the inside of Takoyaki balls are very hot, so make sure to bite into and check the temperature first.
How was it?Which seems delicious? Which one are you the most interesting? Every one is delicious when you try it. In the United States, there is a Japanese restaurant so we can eat it. However, it may be different from seasoning in Japan. Please try eating the original Japanese food.There are Japanese foods that have not been introduced yet.I will introduce you again.