Famous Japanese Cuisine Became UNESCO Heritage Japanese food is now spread to the world and eaten in many countries. You may have heard some of the Japanese food such as “Sushi”, “Teriyaki, "Kobe Beef Steak(or "Wagyu" Beef Steak)", “Tempura”, “Yakitori”, “Teppan-yaki”, “Yakiniku”(Japanese style BBQ), or “Ramen”, which are most common style of Japanese food in the world. Because of its fresh seasonal ingredients and sophisticated cooking style, it is said that the Japanese food plays essential role of Japanese having the longest life expectancy in the world. In year 2013, Japanese traditional cuisine has added to the UNESCO’s Intangible Cultural Heritage. It is the fifth food related UNESCO heritage after French cuisine, Mediterranean cuisines, Mexican cuisine, and Turkish cuisine.
Steamed White Rice with Many Different Seasonal Dishes The combination of steamed white rice with “miso soup” and seasonal dishes is the most common and traditional style of Japanese cuisine. The seasonal side dishes often consist of fish, pickled vegetables, and vegetables cooked in broth. Fish plays very important role in the Japanese cuisine. It is often grilled, but it also be served raw as sashimi or in sushi. Seafood and vegetables are also deep-fried in a light batter as tempura. Other than rice, two main noodles, such as soba (thin, grayish-brown noodles containing buckwheat flour) and udon (thick wheat noodles) are considered as one of the staples in Japan.
Japanese white steamed rice is served in its own small bowl called “chawan”, and each course item is placed on its own small plate or bowl for each individual portion. Meals are clearly divided into a main dish and side dishes (white steamed rice and accompanying dishes) and eaten alternately (so-called Sankaku tabe (triangular eating). This style of eating is common even at home. It contrasts with the Western-style dinners at home and other Asian cuisines, where each individual takes helpings from the large serving dishes of food presented at the middle of the dining table. Also, Japanese style eating traditionally dislike different flavored dishes touching each other on a single plate, so different dishes are given their own individual plates as mentioned, or are partitioned using leaves, etc. Moreover, within the area of chopstick culture, Japan is considered to be the only country where only chopsticks are used for all the food (other than Japan, it is normal to use dippers such as renge (Chinese spoon) and spoons when eating soup and rice).
Traditional Japanese Cuisine Strives to Present Seasonality ("Shun") As Japan has four distinctive seasons consist of “Haru (Spring)”, “Natsu (Summer)”, “Aki (Autumn)”, and “Fuyu (Winter)”, Japanese people have been always place seasonality of food on the dishes to herald the arrival of the each season. Much like the haiku poem, traditional Japanese cuisine try to present seasonality (shun) for taking advantage of the "fruit of the mountains" (山の幸 yama no sachi) as well as the "fruit of the sea" (海の幸 umi no sachi) as they come into season. Use of tree leaves and branches as decor is also characteristic of Japanese cuisine. Maple leaves are often floated on water to exude coolness or ryō (涼), sprigs of nandina are popularly used. The haran (Aspidistra) and sasa bamboo leaves were often cut into shapes, and placed underneath of the food or used as separators.
Traditional "Kaiseki" cuisine of Japan
Traditional "Osechi" cuisine of Japan
Must See Videos
Video Contents 1. Documentary of Japanese Kaiseki Cuisine (4:45) 2. Documentary of Sushi (27:14) 3. Documentary of Wagyu Beef (27:13) 4. Documentary of Tempura(27:22)
Nine Essential Seasoning of Japanese Food
Japanese Soy Sauce (Shoyu) Japanese soy sauce entails wheat in addition to the basic ingredients: soy beans, salt and water, which gives it a milder flavour and makes it a more universal seasoning. Despite its mildness, Japanese soy sauce is savoury, aromatic and not too salty. It adds a pleasant, full-bodied flavour known as “umami” to meals. Compare to the Chinese soy sauce, Japanese soy sauce is slightly sweeter taste.
Miso Miso is a traditional Japanese seasoning produced by fermenting soybeans with salt and the fungus Aspergillus oryzae, known in Japanese as Kōji, and sometimes rice, barley, or other ingredients. Miso is typically salty, but its flavor and aroma depend on various factors in the ingredients and fermentation process. Different varieties of miso have been described as salty, sweet, earthy, fruity, and savory. The taste, aroma, texture, and appearance of miso all vary by region and season.
Mirin Mirin is an essential condiment used in Japanese cuisine. It is a type of rice wine similar to sake, but with a lower alcohol content and higher sugar content. The sugar content is a complex carbohydrate formed naturally via the fermentation process; it is not refined sugar. Mirin is used to add a bright touch to grilled (broiled) fish or to erase the fishy smell. A small amount is often used instead of sugar and soy sauce. It should not be used in excess, however, as its flavor is quite strong.
Dashi Dashi is a class of soup and cooking stock used in Japanese cuisines. The most common form of Dashi is a simple broth or fish stock made by heating water containing Kombu (edible kelp) and Katsuobushi (shavings of preserved, fermented skipjack tuna) or Niboshi (dried baby sardines) to near-boiling, then straining the resultant liquid. It also contains the umami, considered one of the essence tastes in Japan.
Japanese Vinegar (Su) Rice vinegar is most popular in the cuisines of Japan. It is available in "white" (light yellow), red, and black varieties. The Japanese prefer a light rice vinegar for the preparation of sushi rice and salad dressings. White rice vinegar has a mild acidity with a somewhat "flat" and uncomplex flavor. Some varieties of rice vinegar are sweetened or otherwise seasoned with spices or other added flavorings.
Sake Sake is an alcoholic beverage of Japanese origin that is made from fermented rice. Sake is sometimes referred to in English-speaking countries as "rice wine". However, unlike wine, in which alcohol (ethanol) is produced by fermenting sugar that is naturally present in grapes, sake is produced by a brewing process more like that of beer. Sake can have many flavor notes, such as fruits, flowers, herbs, and spices.
Sea Salt In ancient Japan, salt was considered an important commodity, because of the laborious and time-consuming process it took to make. For centuries, salt production has been an important activity throughout Japan, and coastal communities have developed sophisticated techniques for producing this vital mineral from seawater. Sea salt is often used as an offering to the gods, and it is a symbol of holiness, purification, and to keep bad luck away.
Sugar "Wasanbonto" Japanese traditional sugar "Wasanbonto" is a distinctive Japanese sugar with a flavor completely different to ordinary sugar, and could be called Japan's "king of sugars." For finer cuisine, Japanese use Wasanbonto, which contains a small amount of molasses. Made from a domestic species of sugar cane called chikuto that is grown only in parts of Tokushima and Kagawa prefectures, wasanbonto is produced by methods passed down from the beginning of the eighteenth century.
Wasabi Wasabi is a plant, member of the Brassicaceae family, which includes cabbages, horseradish, and mustard. It is also called Japanese horseradish, although horseradish is a different plant (which is often used as a substitute for wasabi). Its stem is used as a condiment and has an extremely strong pungency. Its hotness is more akin to that of a hot mustard than that of the capsaicin in a chili pepper, producing vapours that stimulate the nasal passages more than the tongue
Representative Japanese Dishes
As rice is the main staple in Japan, there are many rice dishes served in Japan. Traditional Japanese rice dishes are cooked very simply and often flavored with Dashi, Soy sauce, and Sake.
Balls of rice with a filling in the middle. You can say Japanese sandwiches.
Rice topped with vegetables and chicken or seafood, then baked in an individual-sized pot
Japanese-style pilaf cooked with various ingredients and flavored with soy, dashi, etc.
White rice cooked with azuki beans (red beans) to Glutinous rice. (literally red rice)
Yakimeshi is a Japanese fried rice with soy sauce and other Japanese ingredients
Hot green tea or dashi poured over cooked white rice, often with various savory ingredients
White rice with a Japanese fresh raw egg and soy sauce
Okayu is a rice congee (porridge), usually with pickled Ume fruits
Soup containing rice stewed in stock, often with egg, and flavoured with miso or soy.
Rice Bowls "Donburi"
Donburi (frequently abbreviated as "don") is a Japanese "rice bowl dish" consisting of fish, meat, vegetables or other ingredients simmered together and served over rice. Donburi meals are served in oversized rice bowls also called donburi. Donburi are sometimes called sweetened or savory stews on rice. The simmering sauce varies according to season, ingredients, region, and taste. Donburi can be made from almost any ingredients.
A one-bowl dish full of hot steamed rice topped with seasoned beef
A one-bowl dish full of hot steamed rice topped with deep-fried breaded cutlet of pork and egg
A one-bowl dish full of hot steamed rice topped with chicken and egg
A one-bowl dish full of hot steamed rice topped with fresh tuna sashimi
A one-bowl dish full of hot steamed rice topped with minced fresh tuna and chopped green onion
A one-bowl dish full of hot steamed rice topped with fresh salmon sashimi and salmon roe
A one-bowl dish full of hot steamed rice topped with varied fresh seafood
A one-bowl dish full of hot steamed rice topped with tempura (battered prawn and vegetables)
A one-bowl dish full of hot steamed rice topped with broiled and seasoned eel with vegetables
A one-bowl dish full of hot steamed rice topped with seasoned pork
Sushi is a Japanese food consisting of cooked vinegared rice combined with other ingredients, seafood, vegetables and sometimes tropical fruits. Ingredients and forms of sushi presentation vary widely, but the ingredient which all sushi have in common is rice. Sushi is often served with gari (ginger), wasabi, and soy sauce. Popular garnishes are often made using daikon. Raw fish (or occasionally other meat) sliced and served without rice is called "Sashimi".
Nigiri is a style of sushi with the ingredients on top of a block of rice
Rice and other ingredients are placed on a sheet of seaweed and rolled into a cylindrical shape
Filling is in the center surrounded by seaweed and a layer of rice with an outer coating
Basically the same as makizushi, except that the seaweed is rolled into a cone-shape
Fresh seafood, vegetables or other ingredients being placed on top of sushi rice in a bowl or dish
Temari is a style of sushi that ingredients and rice are shaped into round ball
Inari is a style of sushi with fried tofu packet stuffed with sushi rice
also known as hako-zushi, is a pressed sushi from the Kansai region, a specialty of Osaka
Udon is a type of thick wheat flour noodle of Japanese cuisine. Udon noodles are served either chilled with a dipping sauce, or in hot broth as a noodle soup. The flavor of broth and topping vary from region to region. Usually, dark brown broth, made from dark soy sauce (koikuchi shōyu), is used in eastern Japan, and light brown broth, made from light soy sauce (usukuchi shōyu), is used in western Japan. This is even noticeable in packaged instant noodles, which are often sold in two different versions for east and west.
Chilled udon noodles topped with shredded nori accompanied by a chilled dipping sauce
Cold udon noodles served with thick dashi-broth and many ingredients
Cold udon Served in a cold soup of raw soy sauce and sudachi (a type of citrus) juice
Hot udon in broth topped with aburaage (sweetened deep-fried tofu pockets)
Hot udon in broth topped with tempura, especially prawn, or kakiage, a type of mixed tempura fritter
Hot udon in a curry-flavoured soup which may also include meat or vegetables
A sort of udon hot-pot, with seafood ,vegetables and poached egg cooked in a nabe pot
Hard udon simmered in red miso soup containing chicken, raw egg, kamaboko, and vegetables
Udon served in a hot-pot with hot water accompanied by a hot dipping sauce
Stir-fried udon in soy-based sauce originated in Fukuoka city
Soba is the Japanese name for buckwheat. It is synonymous with a type of thin noodle made from buckwheat flour, and in Japan can refer to any thin noodle (unlike thick wheat noodles, known as Udon). Soba noodles are often served drained and chilled in the summer, and hot in the winter with a soy-based dashi broth. Extra toppings can be added to both hot and cold soba. Toppings are chosen to reflect the seasons and to balance with other ingredients. Most toppings are added without much cooking, although some are deep-fried.
Chilled soba noodles served on a flat basket or a plate accompanied by a chilled dipping sauce
Cooked al dente and smooth, are served one mouthful at a time on a special plate called a hegi
It consists of a small serving of soba noodles in a small bowl originated in Iwate
Hot Soba topped with tempura, a large prawn frequently is used
Hot soba in broth topped with aburaage (sweetened deep-fried tofu pockets)
Hot soba in broth topped with duck meat and negi (green onion)
Hot soba in curry flavored broth topped with chicken/pork and thinly sliced scallion.
The thick wheat noodles resemble udon topped with boneless pork ribs originated in Okinawa
Fried noodle typically flavoured with a sweetened, thickened condiment similar to Oyster sauce
Ramen is a Japanese noodle soup dish. It consists of wheat noodles served in a meat- or fish-based broth, often flavored with salt, soy sauce or miso, and uses toppings such as sliced pork, dried seaweed, kamaboko, and green onions. Nearly every region in Japan has its own variation of ramen. Ramen soup is generally made from stock based on chicken or pork, combined with a variety of ingredients such as kombu (kelp), katsuobushi (skipjack tuna flakes), niboshi (dried baby sardines), beef bones, shiitake mushroom, and onions, and then flavored with salt, miso, or soy sauce. The resulting combination is generally divided into four categories of Sio-ramen, Shoyu-ramen, Miso-ramen, and Tonkotsu-ramen (although new and original variations often make this categorisation less clear-cut)
Hot noodle with pale, clear, yellowish broth made with plenty of salt and combination of chicken, vegetables, fish, and seaweed
Typically has a clear brown broth, based on a chicken and vegetable stock with plenty of soy sauce added
Hot noodle with thick, nutty broth which is made by copious amounts of miso blended with chicken or fish broth
Usually has a cloudy white colored thick broth made from boiling pork bones, fat, and collagen over high heat for many hours
Deep Fried Dishes
Bite-sized pieces of chicken, fish, or other meat, floured with soy sauce based flavor and deep fried
Tempura is a Japanese dish of deep-fried vegetables or seafood in a light, distinctive batter.
Tonkatsu is a Japanese food which consists of a breaded, deep-fried pork cutlet.
Kushiage is a Japanese dish of seasoned, skewered and fried meat, seafood, or seasonal vegetables.
Gyukatsu is a Japanese food which consists of a breaded, deep-fried beef cutlet.
Breaded and deep-fried patties, containing either mashed potato mixed with minced meet.
Ebi-frai is a Japanese food which consists of a breaded, deep-fried prawn.
Kaki-frai is a Japanese food which consists of a breaded, deep-fried oyster.
Grilled and Pan-fried Dishes
Japanese style barbecued chicken skewers, usually consists of a wide variety of parts of the chicken.
Japanese barbecue of bite-sized Japanese "wagyu" beef on gridirons over flame of Sumi charcoal.
Style of Japanese cuisine that uses an iron griddle to cook food in front of guests.
Grilled, broiled, or pan-fried meat, fish, chicken or vegetables glazed with a sweetened soy sauce
Kushiyaki is a skewers of beef or pork and seasonal vegetables with soy sauce or Dashi based flavor
Sliced lamb or mutton grilled with various vegetables, and dipped in a rich tare sauce.
Flame-grilled fish. Because of the simple cuisine, fresh fish in season are highly preferable.
Grilled and flavored eel. Cut into square fillets, skewered, dipped in a sauce and broil on charcoal.
Spherical, fried dumpling of batter with a piece of octopus inside. Popular street snack.
Savory pancakes with various ingredients, flavoured with Worcestershire sauce and mayonnaise.
Nabemono or simply called nabe, refers to a variety of Japanese hot pot dishes, also known as one pot dishes. Most Nabemono are stews and soups served during the colder seasons. In modern Japan, Nabemono are kept hot at the dining table by portable stoves. The dish is frequently cooked at the table, and the diners can pick the cooked ingredients they want from the pot. It is either eaten with the broth or with a dip. Further ingredients can also be successively added to the pot.
Thinly sliced beef and vegetables cooked in a mixture of soy sauce, dashi, sugar, and sake.
Hot pot with thinly sliced beef and vegetables cooked in a thin stock and dipped in a sauce
Beef offal, cabbage、green chive and various vegetables cooked in a light soup base.
Hot pot with various fishes and vegetables cooked in a Soy sauce and Dashi-based soup
Rice is pounded, formed into cylinders and toasted, then used as dumplings in soups
Chicken pieces and vegetables stewed in a simple stock, and eaten with dipping sauce
Oyster and other ingredients stewed in a pot with its inner lining coated in Miso.
Crabs stewed in Dashi based soup with leafy vegetables such as shungiku and napa cabbage
Fresh salmon stewed in a miso-based broth with vegetables. Speciality of Hokkaido.
Hot pot with wild boar meet and various vegetables cooked in Soy sauce and Dashi-based soup
Nimono is a stewed or simmered dish. A nimono generally consists of a base ingredient simmered in shiru stock often flavored with sake, soy sauce, and a small amount of sweetening. The nimono is simmered in the shiru over a period of time until the liquid is absorbed into the base ingredient or evaporated. The base ingredients for a nimono is typically a vegetable, fish, seafood, or tofu, either singly, or in combination. The shiru stock for a nimono is generally dashi. Other than sake and soy sauce, the stock can be further flavored by mirin, sugar, salt, vinegar, miso, or other condiments.
Surimi, boiled eggs, daikon radish, konnyaku, and fish cakes stewed in a soy-flavoured dashi broth.
Chunks of pork belly stewed in soy, mirin and sake with large pieces of daikon and whole boiled eggs.
Beef offal, cabbage、green chive and various vegetables cooked in a light soup base.
Variety of fish poached in sweet soy sauce-based broth mixed with Mirin and Sake
Sashimi is raw, thinly sliced foods served with a dipping sauce and simple garnishes; usually fish or shellfish served with soy sauce and wasabi. This is a typical style of eating in Japan, because Japanese like to enjoy a freshness of the ingredients.
Typical style of Sashimi which various sashimi served in one dish with beautiful presentation.
Style of sashimi puts a fish meat on a fish body as if it looks alive in order to show the freshness.
Style of sashimi puts a fish meat on a plate shaped like a ship in order to show the gorgeousness.
Sashimi of poisonous pufferfish (sometimes lethal). The chef must have the license to prepare it.
Skipjack tuna sashimi seared on the outside and sliced, spiced with spring onions, ginger or garlic.
Horse meat sashimi, sometimes called sakura (because of its bright pink) is a regional speciality.
Chicken breast sashimi, regional specialty of Kagoshima, Miyazaki prefectures
Yoshoku (洋食) refers to a style of Western-influenced Japanese cuisines which originated during the Meiji Restoration in 19th century. These are primarily Japanized forms of European dishes, often featuring Western names, and usually written in katakana. Yoshoku began by altering Western recipes for lack of information about foreign countries’ cuisine, or adaptions to suit local tastes, but over time, yoshoku also evolved dishes that were not at all based on European foods, such as omu-rice (omelette rice). Elaborate sauces were largely eliminated, replaced with tomato ketchup, demi-glace sauce, Worcester sauce, and other Japanese traditional condiments.
Japanese style curry poured over white rice. It was originated in Japanese imperial navy.
Hayashi-rice is a beef and onions stewed in a red-wine and tomato based sauce and served on rice
Omu-rice is a ketchup-flavored fried rice with chicken wrapped in fresh egg omelet
Spaghetti with tomato ketchup, wieners, sliced onion and green pepper
Doria is a Japanese cousine that roasted pilaf with béchamel sauce and parmigiano-reggiano
Japanese style beef steak used Wagyu cattle, such as well known "Kobe beef".
Miso-shiru (Miso soup)
soup made with miso dissolved in dashi, usually containing two or three types of solid ingredients
It is similar to Miso soup, except that pork is added to the soup with other ingredients
Sumashijiru or osumashi is a clear soup made with dashi and seafood or chicken.
Kasu-jiru: the main ingredient of this typical dish is Sake-kasu(sake lees).
Soup made with dumplings along with seaweed, tofu, lotus root, or any number of other vegetables
Soup containing mochi rice cakes with various ingredients. Usually eaten at New Years Day.
Pickled or Salted Foods and Side Dishes
These foods are usually served in tiny portions, as a side dish to be eaten with white rice, to accompany sake or as a topping for rice porridges.
It is salt cured and pickled soy sauce fresh salmon caviar, usually eat with white rice
It is a salted roe food, usually made from Alaska pollock
Seafood in a brown viscous paste of the animal's heavily salted, fermented viscera
Fermented soybeans, stringy like melted cheese, infamous for its strong smell and slippery texture
Pickled vegetables, hundreds of varieties and served with most rice-based meals
Umeboshi are pickled ume fruits common in Japan, taste extremely sour and salty
Very small fish, shellfish or seaweed stewed in sweetened soy for preservation
Vegetables such as cucumber or wakame, or sometimes crab, marinated in rice vinegar
Chawan mushi is meat (seafood and/or chicken) and vegetables steamed in egg custard.
Boiled and salted pods of soybeans, eaten as a snack, often to accompany beer
Hiya-yakko is a fresh chilled tofu with garnish eaten with Japanese soy sauce
Boiled greens such as spinach, chilled and flavoured with soy sauce, often with garnish