Japanese food culture

Over the years, traditional Japanese food (“washoku”) has gained international recognition for its subtle yet different flavors as well as its aesthetics. The “washoku” has such an ancient and rich history that UNESCO included it, in 2013, in its list of Intangible Cultural Heritage.

The defining characteristic of “washoku” is its seasonality: the ingredients are chosen to suit and celebrate the season of the year or a special occasion. Embedded in the concept of “ichiju-sansai (one soup, three courses), a typical meal is a balanced combination of rice, soup, meat and/or fish, and vegetables.

Due to globalization and changing times, Japanese cuisine as we know it today has evolved, covering not only “washoku”, but also “yoshoku”, that is, the Japanese adaptation of Western dishes, like curry or “omurice” -from “omelet rice”-, that is, rice in a tortilla. Even “washoku” itself today denotes a wide range of foods: from luxurious “kaiseki”, a multi-course combination, to home cooking, to unpretentious but scrumptious street food, including dishes such as “takoyaki” (octopus dumplings) or “okonomiyaki”, a savory Japanese pancake.

Meat and fish/seafood

Japanese gastronomic culture

Fish and shellfish are part of the traditional Japanese diet. Sushi (sliced ​​raw fish over mildly vinegared rice) and sashimi (raw fish and shellfish) are fundamental elements of Japan’s culinary identity.

Meat eating became popular in the Meiji era (1868-1912). Today, we can choose from a wide range of meat dishes. A popular option is to go to a “yakiniku” (grilled meat) restaurant. Wagyu (Japanese beef) is highly regarded for its marbling (infiltrated fat) and incredibly soft texture.

Noodles and Rice: Staple Foods of Japan

From “onigiri”, also called “omusubi” (cooked rice balls), to “donburi” (rice bowls), you will find an unlimited range of dishes (and even sweets!). It is proof of the fundamental role that this cereal has in Japanese cuisine.

The noodles are another dish that cannot be missed. Both “soba” (thin buckwheat noodles) and “udon” (thick wheat noodles) are cheap and filling; that is why they are popular among students and office workers. And the “ramen”, despite the fact that its origin is in China, is already something totally Japanese.

Restorative Soups and Easy Casserole Meals

“On cold days there is nothing like a hot soup to tone the body. Apart from the familiar “miso” (fermented soybean paste) soup, which is served to accompany meals, there are also other simple dishes to prepare in a casserole, which are known as “nabemono”. An example is “shabu-shabu”, thin slices of beef or pork and vegetables that are slowly boiled and eaten after being dipped in sauce. People gather around this food. You too you can experience a “nabe” party in some hostels and cooking workshops.”

Wagashi: Japanese sweets

A feast for the eyes and the palate, “wagashi”, that is, traditional Japanese sweets, are usually very pretty and very well made. In tea ceremonies, they are served to balance the bitterness of powdered green tea “matcha”.

Among the “wagashi” are the “mochi” rice cakes; the “Dango”, which are balls of boiled or steamed rice flour, and the “konpeito”, some candies or sugar balls in the shape of little flowers.

Local specialties: the pride of Tokyo

Each of Japan’s 47 prefectures has its own specialties, and Tokyo is no exception. Some of those that originated in the capital is the “monjayaki”, a thin and soft wheat flour pancake with many ingredients; the “Fukagawa mesh”, whose ingredients are clams, rice, and leeks; and the “chanko nabe”, a hearty and hearty stew that sumo wrestlers eat in large quantities to get strong.

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