Many think that the Japanese eat sushi, sashimi, and ramen day and night. That’s not exactly the case. Japanese cuisine has a rich history changing through the centuries due to influences from China (the use of chopsticks and the cultivation of rice), Europe (sweets, corn, potatoes, and condiments), and Buddhism (vegetarianism and eating of raw meat). What hasn’t changed is the simplicity and the traditional preparations of their food, wherein only the freshest products of the highest quality is used. The people have divided dishes into 5 color classes (red, green, white, yellow, and black-purple) and 6 tastes (sweet, sour, bitter, salty, hot, and delicate); therefore, the Japanese chefs still follow this system of cooking. Here are some of their traditional dishes.
Sushi and sashimi
Considered as the most well-known of all Japanese food, ‘sushi’ generally means “dish made with Japanese rice and seasoned with rice vinegar. The different types of sushi include makizushi (sushi rice and fillings in nori seaweed), nigiri sushi (bite-size mounds of sushi rice with single slices of raw fish draped on top) and inarizushi (sushi rice stuffed inside pockets of seasoned, fried tofu).
The controversial sashimi is basically raw fish or meat that has been thinly cut into slices and is served with daikon radish, pickled ginger, wasabi and soy sauce. The freshest possible fish is used to make sashimi.
Ramen (noodle-soup) is one of Japan’s most popular dishes nowadays because it costs so little and is widely available. It is basically a noodle soup dish with wheat noodles, a savory broth and toppings of meat, and/or vegetables such as nori seaweed, spring onions, and bamboo shoots.
Since eating meat in Japan has been a taboo in Japan for the longest time, yakitori has only been around since the 17th century. It is a dish of grilled skewered bite-sized cuts of chicken (including the heart, liver, and chicken comb). The Japanese, apparently don’t like to waste any part of their food.
Misoshiru (miso soup) is commonly served as a side dish in every meal. It is a soup made from a miso paste (fermented soybeans) and dashi (stock). Pieces of tofu, onion, kelp, and sometimes vegetables, are added to this soup base.
A personal favorite, soba are noodles made from buckwheat flour and is either served chilled with a dipping sauce or in hot broth as a noodle soup. They are considered a cheap fast food, but can also be served at specialty restaurants. Just remember to slurp down the noodles loudly.