All about the FASCINATING Japanese Food Culture

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Japanese food types

Why is Japanese food popular?

Well, there are many reasons for the popularity of Japanese dishes! Firstly, many people just love the Japanese culture, the manga and anime, the temples, Hello Kitty, the fashions… Similarly using chopsticks to eat is quite cool. However, this just explains how Japanese cuisine called our attention in the first place. Now we ask ourselves: Why we cannot stop eating these dishes??

The answer to this question is based on 6 qualities strongly associated to Japanese meals:

It’s healthy

Japan is the society with highest life expectancy and this is mainly, because of the highly balanced meals they eat.  Certainly Japanese diet has an extraordinary taste-health ratio!

Highly specialized

Japanese restaurants are famous for closed menus specialized for a very specific public. This might seems like there is not variety. However the truth is there are so many different types of restaurants in Japan that you will find for sure the one you like the most.

Craftsman soul

Most of Japanese restaurant chefs have real passion for food and the dishes they cook. Therefore, is quite common to see lots of innovation within each year related to new dishes and new presentations.

Less food, more taste

Japanese cuisine is combined with the finest seasonal ingredients to extract the most natural flavor from each dish. As a result, small rations of different Japanese dishes transport costumers to a paradise of flavors.

All food is good food

Even food served in fast food Japanese restaurants, convenience stores and street Japanese food is healthy and tasty! Because it not always possible to eat in restaurant within such a busy country, this is an important requirement of their society.

It’s mysterious

Sitting in the floor, using chopsticks, using warm wet towels at the beginning and end of each meal among others are common traditions on many Japanese restaurants. As a result, many people get in love with the atmosphere generated around Japanese meals.

What is a typical Japanes meal?

japanese menu
Japanese menus are usually compose of small rations that japanese like to mix during the meal

Japanese traditional cuisine is based of course on rice. Did you know that they use the word “gohan” (御飯) to say both “boiled rice” and “meal”? In addition, Japanese meals come with miso soup and different side dishes with emphasis on seasonal ingredients. Side dishes consist on picked vegetables and seafood often served as sushi or sashimi or tempura.

What is Japan’s national dish?

curry rice dish
So many people eat curry rice that it considered by many the national dish of Japan

First of all, there is no such thing as an official Japanese national dish. However if we evaluate this question thinking about the dish that Japanese people consume the most, that will be without a doubt Curry Rice! This is certainly an imported dish but japan has such a long history of importing food from other countries that it could be considered also traditional food.

What are the main ingredients in Japanese cooking?

Japanese Rice

japanese rice
Japanese rice should be sticky. It is an importat requirement when you eat using chopsticks

Rice has been cultivated in Japan for more than 2000 years. Because of that it is the basic cereal that you will find on any Japanese kitchen.

Soy beans

soy beans
Soy beans are the core of many japanese dishes. Even some noodles are made with soy flour!

Soy bean are consume as regular beans in japan but also you will be surprised by the amount of ingredients coming from them. Per example, miso soup, soy sauce and natto are obtained from soy beans after different fermentation processes. Tofu, yuba and aburaage are also Japanese popular ingredients coming from soy beans. Moreover soy beans are used to make sweets like kinako, anko, tonyu, kuromame and dango!

Japanese Vegetables

japanese vegetables
Japanese people like to cut their vegetables in small pieces an mix them in other dishes

They play an important role in Japanese diet.  In the rank of the most popular Japanese vegetables we have:

  • Negi: A type of bunching onion.
  • Kabocha: A type of squash with a taste that reminds pumpkin.
  • Naga-imo: A long potato with a very particular taste.
  • Reckon:  Which is the root of the lotus plant and ideal for tempura.
  • Take no ko: Meaning literally “bamboo kids”, this bamboo shoots are a typical food of spring season.
  • Daikon: White radish that is usually smashed and mixed with other ingredients.

Noodles

japanese noodles
Japanese noodle came in many varieties and shapes

There are so many kinds we cannot mention all of them. Certainly, it will be possible to create a whole blog just talking about noodle types in Japan. Starting with the super popular ramen, Japanese noodles came in many varieties. Udon, soba and somen are some examples.

Although they are all considered noodles, they size, length and composition ingredients differ widely among types. 

Seaweed

kombu seaweed
Kombu seaweed. You can eat it with sesami or put it into miso soup

The most popular Japanese seaweed is Nori. They used it as cover for onigiri and sushi. Also they put it in salads and soups. There are many other types of seaweeds like wakame, kombu and hikiji.

Seafood

japanese seafood
Japanese people cannot understand life without raw seafood.

There are so many Japanese recipes containing seafood. As will be expected Japan consumes types of seafood known all around the globe. The main difference will be how much they like RAW fish! In addition, something you should not miss if you come to Japan is trying unagi or Japanese freshwater eel. Its a bit expensive but incredible tasty.

What spices are used in Japanese cooking?

japanese spicies
Some japanese are really spicy lovers.

Shichimi Togarashi is the name of a popular spice’s mix in Japanese cuisine.  The Shichimi literally mean “seven tastes” because it contains 7 different spices.  Although Japanese dishes doesn’t use many dried spices, the spices listed below are used fairly often.

  • Ground ginger
  • Sanshou or Sichuan peppercorns
  • White sesame seeds
  • Black sesame seeds
  • Dried orange Peel
  • Wasabi powder
  • Red chili flakes

Why is Japanese diet so healthy?

Low fat diet

A low fat diet is important to have a healthy life however that not the only reason of why Japanese food is so healthy.

Balanced and Healthy

On the one hand, many Japanese dishes come from fermented soy bean. This healthy food is full of antioxidants, vitamins and minerals important for our body.  On the other hand, typical Japanese meals are based on many little dishes with a huge variety of ingredients. In the same meal you might eat fish, meat, beans, rice and vegetables. Said in other words, Japanese food is extremely balanced.

Responsible eating

Last but not least, in Japanese food culture it is said that when eating you should reach the 80% of your full stomach. This responsible eating also contributes to their health condition.

In conclusion, the balance and richness of Japanese diet teams with their culture creating a quite healthy style of life

Where can I eat street food in japan?

street food in japan
Everytime there is a festival, it is possible to buy all kinds of food from street stands

If you travel to Japan, eating street food won’t be a problem at all. During festivals streets get full of small stands selling all kinds of food. From the typical Japanese food box to other common dishes like okonomiyaki, takoyaki and yakisoba. Moreover, during traditional festivities like New Year, hanami events and fireworks events, temples all other meeting places are crowded with street food.

Is safe to eat raw fish in Japan?

japanese raw fish
Japanese raw fish is not only the safest, but also the most delicious!

Japanese cuisine cannot be understood without raw fish. But is not only fish what they eat raw. Also, they eat raw meat, eggs and all kinds of seafood. In foreign countries, the required conditions to storage raw food are not always the best because there is not the same demand of these ingredients. However, the passion of Japanese people for this food makes this country the safest place in the word to consume raw food. Basically you can go to any sort of supermarket, convenience store or specialized shop and you will find perfectly save raw products to consume!