Starting from the second half of the twentieth century, Japanese cuisine quickly began to conquer the European consumer with unusual taste, ingredients and an original form of presentation. A characteristic evidence of increased demand is the inclusion of traditional Japanese dishes in the menu of most modern restaurants and the spread of sushi bars not only in world capitals, but also in small cities of both economically developed and third world countries.

Japanese cuisine has unusual taste qualities.

The Effects of Insulation on Japanese Cuisine

Since Japan is an island nation that in some periods was closed to the political and cultural influences of other countries, it multiplied and preserved its traditional characteristics up to the present day almost unchanged.

The basis of the original development was borrowed from China rice, green tea, noodles, fruit trees, soybeans, the use of chopsticks for food and an offshoot of Zen Buddhism, which was intertwined with the original Japanese religion of Shinto.

A wide variety of seafood has been available on the islands since time immemorial. Peasants were also engaged in cattle breeding and agriculture.

Worship of natural forces and contemplation of the beauty of the surrounding world were reflected in the aestheticization of food intake, turned it into a beautiful ceremony. Food began to correlate with the seasons and change according to the season, like a composition in a tokonoma.

Characteristic table traditions have also developed:

  • the obligatory wish to “itadakimasu” by all family members before meals as gratitude to the gods for the food;
  • “gotisosama” is a similar “thank you for the treat” at the end of the meal.

It is not customary to eat alone – the Japanese are waiting for everyone to gather. Drinks are poured to each of their neighbors.

Chopsticks (hasi) are placed on a special stand next to you when not used. Holding them in your fist is a sign of aggression and enmity, as well as waving them when talking, leaving them stuck in a dish or crossing them on a table or dishes. Japanese hashi differ from Chinese ones in thinner ends – it is easier to catch pieces of fish with them.

The main features of the cuisine of Japan

Unlike European traditions, in Japan, the taste of products is not distorted, but is preserved intact or emphasized by appropriate sauces. Hence, there are so many raw ingredients on the menu or slightly processed, just enough to preserve their useful qualities as much as possible. Often raw fish can be served almost untouched.

One of the most unusual features for Europeans is small portions. Chefs focus on variety, the opportunity to enjoy different tastes without satiety. In addition, small pieces are convenient to take with chopsticks. They are not cut or bitten off, but dipped in sauces and immediately put in the mouth. This is the only way to enjoy the taste of the dish to the fullest.

Broths can be drunk or eaten with a spoon.

Broths are usually drunk, although some soups can be served with a ceramic wide spoon.

The main traditional drinks are green tea and sake (rice wine). Japanese chefs are able to skillfully cut vegetables. They are used for garnish or decoration. Often in the decor of dishes stylized images of animals, funny emoticons or anime characters are read.

The concept of the main dish in the menu does not exist – each complements and emphasizes the taste of the other. Food is taken in an arbitrary order. The daily lunch consists of rice, soup, vegetables, fish or seafood and tea. In the festive meal add delicacies, several types of soups, everything is beautifully and carefully decorated and served.

Unlike China and Korea, japan traditionally rarely eats animal and poultry meat, dairy products. This was influenced by Buddhism. All essential amino acids are included in the diet due to the use of legumes (soybeans), fish, mollusks and crustaceans.

Food in restaurants is often prepared right in front of visitors, and in some establishments there is even an opportunity to take a direct part in this sacrament.

Useful properties of Japanese food

The country has a record number of centenarians, the reason for which is a moderate, natural and predominantly plant-based balanced diet.

Japanese cuisine is a moderate and natural diet.

Vitamins contained in vegetables are not destroyed by prolonged heat treatment and have a restorative effect on the body, supply it with all the necessary minerals, maintaining the condition of hair, nails and skin, increase attention.

This is a good source of fiber, which prevents diseases of the cardiovascular system, cleanses the internal organs of toxins.

Polyunsaturated fats, which are found in fatty fish and algae, fight aging and improve the activity of internal organs and the brain. From them, hormone-like substances are synthesized that regulate the processes associated with blood clotting, have an anti-cancer and anti-inflammatory effect.

The main methods of preparation

In Japan, they prefer to use raw fish, vegetables and seafood. They are also fried, boiled, grilled and pickled. There are dishes that are steamed. Japanese cuisine is characterized by the desire to preserve the original shape and original taste, so often the products are only lightly fried to a golden crust.

Main Ingredients

The basic products in Japanese cuisine are the same, but the resulting dishes are richer and more interesting than in neighboring regions.

Algae

Japan is the leader in the world in terms of algae consumption. This is a useful and mineral-rich plant, which is added to almost any dish, including desserts, tea. There are more than 30 edible species, but the most popular are wakame, nori and kombu. They are sold most often dried, but when soaked, they quickly acquire the appearance of fresh.

Algae is a healthy and mineral-rich dish.

Nori is used mainly for wrapping rice or in crushed form – for seasoning. They are sold in the form of thin sheets, sometimes fried and salted. Upon contact with water, these algae become very pully.

Wakame is a long green or brownish algae, tender and salty in taste, which are added to salads and soups. They contain a record amount of calcium.

From kombu cook broth with a specific smell of the sea. They are seasoned with stewed vegetable dishes, boiled rice, used as an analogue of kombucha.

Fish & Seafood

From time immemorial, seafood, such as raw fish, algae and shellfish, formed the basis of the diet of the inhabitants of this island state. The seas and oceans washing it gave the Japanese about 10 thousand edible items. According to statistics, 1/6 of the world’s marine fisheries are accounted for by Japan. The most popular traditional dishes contain shellfish, octopus, crab, eel, perch, tuna, trout, salmon, saury, fish roe. It is believed that predominantly marine food contributes to the longevity of the nation.

Soy

It was brought to Japan from Korea in 500 BC. e. the Japanese still consume soy products daily. From soybeans make tofu cheese, soy milk, meat analogue, steaks, miso paste. It is sprouted, fermented, boiled. The protein content in some varieties reaches 50%, and cholesterol is completely absent.

Soybeans in Japan are sprouted and boiled.

Rice

It is the basis of most traditional dishes. In Japan, a huge number of varieties are grown, the main of which in the kitchen are white (polished) and brown (with a shell). Specific conditions are required for the germination of the latter and its care. Fields with such rice are poured with standing water, which is removed only before the full ripening of the culture.

Grain is a hypoallergenic product, because it does not contain gluten. It contains a record amount of B vitamins, essential minerals, iodine and amino acids. It is used as a side dish as a substitute for bread.

Sometimes it is fried, steamed, but more often just boiled. Rice is used to make vinegar, starch, mirin wine and sake.

Various vegetables

Herbal ingredients are an integral part of the kitchen. The most common are Chinese cabbage (it is eaten raw or pickled), eggplant, cucumber, leeks (it is used in most cooked dishes and broths), potatoes, carrots, turnips, spinach.

Of the most specific:

  • mother-and-stepmother (akita huki);
  • lotus root (it is fried);
  • gobo, or burdock (it is used for salads, broths, cookies);
  • leaf daikon (it is dried or pickled).

Chinese cabbage is the most common.

Horseradish

The more common name for Japanese horseradish is wasabi, or green mustard. This plant prevents the formation of blood clots and the growth of bacteria. Tempura is prepared from stems and flowers, adding it as a seasoning. Since a real wasabi requires special temperature conditions and running water, this greatly complicates mass cultivation and increases the cost.

More popular is the use of its cheaper analogue – pureed ordinary horseradish with a dye and flavor.

Traditions of Japanese cuisine

The Japanese meal stands out strongly in the way it is served. There is no tablecloth on the tables, there are no forks, knives and spoons familiar to a European. Often, wet warm towels are brought before eating to wipe your hands.

Food is served on wooden trays, where sushi, rolls and some other dishes are placed. Plates are used, but for more fluid and crumbly dishes. They can be different in shape and even divided by partitions into several containers, include a saucepan.

In Japan, there is no tablecloth on the tables.

For sticks, special miniature stands are mandatory, often beautiful and interesting in design. A large teapot with tea is brought at the very beginning, and not at the end of the meal. In Japan, they adhere to the belief that each product reveals its taste qualities as much as possible in its season, when young animals ripen or appear. Therefore, the seasonality of food is especially traced.

When a plum blossoms, the dish is decorated with a flower or branch, and the symbols of flowering are reflected in the color scheme or pattern of dishes, the shape of the cut or the decor. Bamboo and cereal sprouts are associated with spring and are served predominantly at this time of year. Roasted eel is traditionally cooked in the summer heat. Winter is the time of tangerines, apples and persimmons. Pickles, carrots, cabbage and root vegetables appear on the table. Sake is often served heated and in narrow jugs.

National and simply popular dishes

The Japanese table can not be imagined without the following dishes.

Onigiri

The name translates as “squeeze”, which reflects the amazing simplicity of cooking onigiri. This is the most popular for a snack or picnic dish of unleavened rice has the form of small balls, pyramids or flat triangles. The filling can be placed inside or added to the rice itself.

Onigiri is a dish of Japanese cuisine made from unleavened rice.

The molded lump is wrapped in a nori leaf or squeezed with flat algae on one side so that it is convenient to hold and not to get your hands dirty. There are recipes for onigiri fried in oil. Internal content can be anything – there are no restrictions in this. It is undesirable to use mussels, because to taste they do not go well with rice.

Spicy eggplant

Japanese eggplants are precocious and high-yielding, differ from the usual ones not only in taste, but also in shape: it is cylindrical, more elongated and narrow. The variety is almost not bitter, quickly cooked and therefore so popular in cooking. Eggplants are fried (including grilled), boiled.

Serve them with miso paste, soy sauce, sprinkle with ginger, garlic, hot peppers and chopped onions, using as a side dish or snack.

Salad with ginger and carrots

The benefits of this side dish are difficult to overestimate. Young ginger and carrots contain the maximum amount of vitamins. This dish improves vision, memory, lowers cholesterol, accelerates metabolism. Traditional Asian salad is prepared quickly and simply. It is enough to wash, rub carrots, ginger root, add salt, honey. For dressing, you can use lemon juice, oil, mayonnaise.

Salad with ginger and carrots contains many vitamins.

Pickled daikon

In Japan, the inclusion in the diet of dishes with daikon (white elongated radish without the bitterness characteristic of the root crop) is widespread. In pickled form, it is used as a cold snack, in salads, twisted into rolls. It goes well with both meat and fish.

Daikon is cooked during the day on rice vinegar with the addition of sugar, salt, turmeric, cloves and pepper. Garlic and bay leaves are also added there. The marinade is transferred to a clean dish and placed in a cool place. It is stored for no more than 2 weeks.

Ramen soup

This dish traditionally consists of noodles in broth, most often cooked on the basis of fish or algae, and a side dish. The noodles themselves are prepared from wheat flour, salt, drinking water and alkaline mineral water, thanks to which it acquires a yellowish tint. Miso paste, soy sauce, salt, vegetables, onions, ginger, garlic, etc. are added to the broth.

Ramen soup consists of noodles and side dishes.

To enrich the taste, boiled egg, tofu, mushrooms, poultry or beef, greens are used. There are a huge number of varieties of ramen, each region has its own recipes. The dish is served in a wide bowl. First, they eat noodles and garnish, and the brew is drunk over the edge or a spoon is used for this.

Takoyaki

This dish is treated more like fast food. It is a traditional appetizer of boiled octopus inside the dough. In appearance, it resembles fried donuts. Sometimes cheese is put in the dough, and onions and ginger are put in the filling. Takoyaki is prepared in a special frying pan with semicircular recesses.

Serve them hot, several pieces at once, seasoned with sauce, mayonnaise and necessarily sprinkled with tuna shavings.

Karaage

This name is given to the cooking technique, in which meat, vegetables or fish are marinated in a sauce, and then sprinkled with flour and fried in a large amount of oil until golden brown. Most often, this is how chicken is cooked using a boneless femur. The dish is always served with tabasaki sauce, soy or other (depending on the region of preparation).

Karaage is a Japanese way of cooking.

Yakitori

This is a popular dish similar to kebabs. Translated means “fried bird”. It is cooked over coals, but bamboo skewers are used, not iron ones. Pieces of meat, entrails (stomach, liver, heart), skin are poured with tara sauce, garlic or onions are added and fried until ready, served with lemon juice, salt. Sometimes the same name is given to pork, beef, seafood or vegetables cooked in a similar way.

Sushi and rolls

Sushi is the national dish of Japan, popular all over the world. It has a huge number of types, interpretations and forms of presentation. The main ingredients are glutinous round rice with vinegar rice seasoning, the addition of salt and sugar and seafood in different combinations. Initially, pickled fish was used, in the 19th century it was replaced by raw.

The traditional filling is caviar, salmon, tuna, shrimp, crab meat, yams, tofu, cucumber, avocado. The dish must be accompanied by pickled ginger, soy sauce and wasabi (to disinfect raw seafood). The main types of land differ in the method of wrapping with a leaf of dried algae – nori.

Sushi and rolls are the national dish of Japan.

Nigiri is hand-pressed rice with a small amount of wasabi and a thin filling that is applied on top and wrapped around the rice with a thin ribbon of nori.

Gunkan-maki is similar to the previous version. It is also sculpted with hands, but the nori are wrapped around the perimeter, giving the rice the shape of a floating boat.

Makizushi, or roll, is a softened sheet of nori twisted with a bamboo mat with rice and filling, which is then cut into cylinders and served in 6-8 pieces.

Temakizushi is a sheet of nori wrapped in a cone. Such sushi resembles a cornucopia. They are quite large, up to 10 cm in length. They eat them with their hands.

Uramaki are distinguished by a combination of several fillings. Nori, in which the filling is wrapped, is located inside the rice. Rice on the outside can be sprinkled with caviar, tuna shavings or sesame.

Tirashizushi is a close european serving of the dish. Rice, without forming, is simply poured into a bowl, and the filling is placed on top.

Sake

The second name of this drink is rice wine or rice vodka, which is not entirely true, since this is the common name for all drinks with alcohol content. And the one that is implied, in the homeland is called nihonshu.

This is a traditional alcoholic beverage based on rice and malt, obtained by mold fermentation. Its strength is 15-20%. Flavors are very different – from fruit to mushroom. Color saturation and transparency also vary greatly. Varieties – from the cheapest and tasteless to elite and noble. Table types of sake are served heated, but a high-quality drink is always drunk chilled.

Yakiniku

Initially, this was the name of meat (beef, pork or entrails), which was fried on a grate over coals, but later began to be called vegetables and other products prepared in the same way. This is the Japanese analogue of barbecue.

Yakiniku is meat that is fried on coals on a grate.

Often in restaurants, electric or gas grills are built into the tables for visitors. So the dish can be prepared independently and to your taste during a conversation with friends or companions, ordering all the necessary raw ingredients. Special ventilation systems clean the room from smoke, leaving the air clean. To the yakinik take the sauce tare and appetizers.

Curry

At the heart of this dish is the curry sauce, which goes as a dressing for boiled rice or noodles. It is quite thick and spicy in taste. There are meat and vegetarian species.

Traditionally, it is prepared from vegetables and beef, which are lightly fried, poured with broth and stewed until ready. Then add flour and curry powder, which include the following seasonings: turmeric, garlic, mustard, cumin, ginger, cardamom, nutmeg, cloves, black pepper, coriander, chili pepper. Most often, ready-made semi-finished products are bought for the sauce and only in restaurants all the ingredients are prepared independently.

Recipes of Japanese cuisine

Some dishes with ingredients available for purchase in any supermarkets can be successfully prepared at home.

Teriyaki beans

For this recipe, green string beans and teriyaki sauce are used. In the classic interpretation, you can add a fillet of chicken or turkey. Frozen string beans are not difficult to find, but you can replace them with a glass of white or red beans or a mixture of them.

Teriyaki beans are cooked for several hours.

Mandatory ingredients:

  • beans – 150 g or 1-1.5 tbsp.;
  • sesame oil – 1 tsp;
  • refined vegetable oil – 50 ml;
  • sesame seeds – 1 tbsp. l.;
  • brown (cane) sugar – 80 g;
  • ginger powder – 1 tsp;
  • corn starch – 2 tbsp. l.;
  • onions – 1 pc.;
  • sweet pepper (red) – 1-2 pcs.;
  • vinegar (preferably rice) – 1 tbsp. l .;
  • corn starch – 2 tbsp. l.

Cooking sequence:

  1. Pre-beans (dry) are washed and soaked for several hours (can be left overnight).
  2. Wash it again, pour fresh water and cook over low heat.

Teriyaki sauce is prepared as follows:

  1. All the remaining ingredients, except for starch and sesame seeds, onions and peppers, are poured into water.
  2. Stirring, bring the composition to a boil and boil for a few minutes, after which the starch is gradually poured there, diluted in a small amount of water.
  3. Bring the mass to the desired density and pour sesame into it.
  4. Last of all, prepare onions and bell peppers, cutting them into thin slices and frying them in oil in a frying pan.
  5. On the same pan, pour boiled beans and stew for several minutes in a small amount of broth with teriyaki sauce.

The whole mixture must be infused under the lid for 10 minutes. Then you can serve the dish to the table.

Soup with algae

Types of this dish can be counted a huge number, as well as the types of algae themselves, which are used in Japanese cooking. Depending on the main ingredients, soups have a variety of names. Algae is added to most soups with rice, wheat noodles, crab, fish, yourself, tofu, spinach, kimchi, etc.

Algae is added to soup with rice.

Miso soup is one of the most popular among many consumers, standing on a par with traditional sushi and sake.

The broth for it is boiled in empty water and algae, so it must be fresh, otherwise its taste will be lost.

For the recipe you will need:

  • tofu cheese – 200 g;
  • algae (wakame, nori or kelp) -150 g;
  • miso paste – 4-5 tbsp. l.;
  • green onion feathers – 1-2 pcs.;
  • water – 1000-1200 ml.

Prepare the dish according to the following recipe:

  1. Tofu is cut into cubes weighing about 5 g.
  2. In water brought to a boil, but not in boiling water, pressed algae (or soaked in water) and cheese are added. Algae can not be boiled, otherwise the broth will turn out bitter.
  3. Pour pasta diluted in boiling water in another container, and immediately turn off the heat. The paste is not boiled to avoid insoluble lumps.

The soup is ready. You can pour it into bowls and garnish with chopped onion greens.

Mochi

Since rice is the main component of Japanese dishes, they learned to make desserts from it.

Mochi is made from special rice.

So, mochi is made from a special type of rice – mochigome, which, with prolonged grinding and wetting, becomes sticky and sweet. It is used as a dough for the preparation of rice sweets. They are usually given for the New Year and served to the festive table.

A similar dessert in the form of traditional round cakes with filling can be prepared independently.

Composition for the base:

  • rice flour – 300 g;
  • powdered sugar – 100 g;
  • natural dyes – 2 g;
  • corn flour or starch – 100 g;
  • water – 300 ml.

As a dye, it is desirable to use the natural juice of fruits or berries.

Mochi is prepared as follows:

  1. Mix the flour with powdered sugar in a convenient container, adding tinted water.
  2. Cover the resulting homogeneous mass with cling film and place in the microwave (for 1-2 minutes) or heat in a water bath until thickened.
  3. If, after mixing, the result is unsatisfactory, repeat the procedure with heating.
  4. Sprinkle the resulting dough with starch and lay on the surface for further processing: rolling out and cutting out the forms.
  5. In the center of flat circles, place the filling, interlock the edges and roll into a ball or rounded cake, sprinkled with starch so that the dough does not stick to the hands.
  6. After cooking, serve immediately.

You can use a variety of fillings, including berries, chocolate, caramel, cookies.

Ramen

This traditional oriental dish is wheat noodles in broth with various additives. The broth can be beef, chicken, fish, mushroom, etc.

Ramen is a traditional oriental dish.

To prepare ramen with mushrooms you will need:

  • noodles (wheat, rice, buckwheat) – 250 g;
  • mushrooms – 300-400 g;
  • teriyaki sauce – 4 tbsp;
  • onions – 1 pc.;
  • garlic – 2 cloves;
  • broccoli (or cabbage bok choy) – 300 g;
  • miso paste – 4 tbsp. l.;
  • sesame – 2 tbsp. l.;
  • sesame oil – 1 tbsp. l.;
  • sugar – 1 tbsp. l.;
  • olive oil – 2 tbsp;
  • chili sauce – 1 tbsp. l

In this recipe, the ingredients are interchangeable, they can easily be found in any supermarket.

Cooking sequence:

  1. On a heated pan, pour oil, pour chopped onions, garlic and fry until the aroma appears.
  2. Turn off the heat, cover the mass with a lid and let it brew for 10 minutes.
  3. Grind the mixture, add to a pot of water.
  4. Cook the broth for 20 minutes, filter.
  5. Broccoli (or other cabbage) is stewed in a small amount of broth until it becomes soft, but does not lose its shape and color.
  6. In a separate cup, mix miso, soy sauce, sesame and sugar.
  7. Pour the mixture into the broth.
  8. Separately fry washed mushrooms, cut into slices.
  9. Teriyaki sauce is added to the roast.
  10. The noodles are boiled, washed through a colander and placed in a wide bowl.
  11. Lay out all the fried components on top and pour them with broth, add chili sauce.

On top of the dish, you can pour chopped onion feathers and add 2 halves of the boiled egg.