Different towns and cities in Japan are known for their food traditions. The Japanese are passionate about food, and with good reason, it tastes amazing!
Although we typically associate Japan with sushi, there are in fact plenty of other dishes that we should turn our attention to. There are different kinds of sweets, noodles, tofu, soups and rice dishes. And when you’re not eating the food, you can switch on a TV at any time of the day and find a food cooking channel!
Rice is associated with many Asian countries, in fact, it is a staple dish in many countries around the world. The Japanese have eaten rice for over 2,000 years and it remains a constant in their daily diets. Rice is eaten with sushi dishes, but it is also eaten with meat, vegetables and simmered fish. Rice is also made into a rice porridge (known as kayu).
Japanese rice is short grained, when it is cooked it has a more sticky texture, which makes it easier to pick up using chop sticks. There are over 300 different kinds of short grain rice in Japan. Outside of Japan you will usually find Japanese rice in supermarkets labelled ‘sushi rice.’
Many different products can be created from rice; rice wine (sake), rice flour, rice vinegar and rice bran.
Many different kinds of meat are eaten in Japan. Kobe beef is a well known kind of steak in Japan, it is very tender and juicy. Meat is usually sliced into very thin strips in Japanese cooking, so buying a high quality knife is important, as is buying chunks of meat to make cooking easier.
Many people associate Japan with fish – and it does play a large part in their diet. It is often eaten raw, but also served grilled and deep fried.
When I was in Tokyo I would love going to Tsukiji Fish Market. It is the largest seafood market in the world. Just wandering around the various stalls and restaurants is an experience, and if you love sushi as much as me, treat yourself to a meal there – it’ll be one of the freshest sushi dishes you’ve ever had the pleasure to enjoy!
Bonito is one of the most popular fish used in Japanese cooking. It is best eaten raw, but is also sometimes cooked and dried whole to use in some dishes.
Vegetarians in Japan
If you are a vegetarian it doesn’t mean you can’t still fall in love with Japanese food. I was quite surprised to discover that eating meat was prohibited until 1868 in Japan.
Tofu is a well known protein rich staple of Japanese food and is included in a lot of recipes. Tofu very much differs in taste, depending on where it is made. Tofu is made from boiling soya beans and then they are crushed. The milk is separated and made into curds, using a coagulant. The curds are put in a wooden mould and pressed for a few hours. The excess water drains away and allows the tofu to firm up.
Other popular Japanese recipes that don’t involve meat include buck-wheat noodles with a lovely dipping sauce and vegetable soup with thick noodles.
I was surprised to discover so many incredible patisseries in Tokyo. I was even more surprised to discover how absolutely delicious their foods tasted! The presentation of what they served was as you would expect from Japan, nothing short of perfection. And the taste matched the look!
Restaurants in Japan
There are so many different places to eat out in Japan. Even though I was treated to some incredible dishes from my host family, I still loved the experience of eating out. Many restaurants will specialise in a specific kind of cuisine from cook your own style food to skewered cuisines. Many places do still have menus catering for a wider range of tastes, offering good value and taste. The choice of cuisines is simply incredible.