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Famous Food in Japan

When we hear "Japanese food" directly Suchi, Ramen, Miso soup & tofu jump to our mind as a japanese food, however, the Japanese cuisine has an amazing, unique, and varied dishes that goes beyond just fish and rice.

Soup, Appetizers & Main dishes

Miso soup

Miso Soup (missoshiru)* is a side dish that is always served with traditional Japanese-style breakfasts, lunches, and dinners.

It is a soup made from a miso paste (fermented soybeans) and dashi (fish stock).

It is usually prepared with soy, hondashi, tofu, chives; sometimes other items, such as daikon, shrimp, fish, mushrooms, potatoes, onions, or meat, can be added, several complementary toppings are normally added to it, such as green onion, wakame seaweed, and firm tofu.

The misoshiru is served before the main course in almost every meal and with almost every dish

A traditional Japanese diet generally includes drinking miso soup daily. There are hundreds of regional varieties of miso soup, from simple soups with just seaweed and tofu to ones with crab and a variety of vegetables.

Miso paste itself comes in different types, from white, which has a sweet flavor, to a darker, saltier red.


*The word missoshiru means fermented soy broth, consisting of two words where miso means "fermented soy" and shiru, "broth".




Dashi

Dashi is an authentic soup in Japan. It is a type of soup and cooking stock often used as the base for different miso and noodle soups, donburi or rice bowl dishes, stews, and many other kinds of simmered dishes. Dashi is typically made from kombu (dried kelp), katsuobushi (dried and smoked skipjack tuna), iriko or niboshi (anchovies or sardines), or a combination of these ingredients, all of which are naturally rich in glutamates and thus deliver an intense umami flavor to many Japanese dishes.



Oden

Oden is one of the pot dishes consisting of several ingredients (usually eggs, konjac, fish cakes, and daikon) served in a dashi and soy soup. Oden is a dish of various ingredients simmered in broth, it has a savory, salty taste. Oden can be prepared in many different ways.



Ramen

Ramen is a noodle soup dish consisting of wheat noodles that is a very popular dish which is served as the last meal of the day.

It is considered to be fast food, it's usually served hot but some kinds can be served cold.

The broth can be based on chicken, pork, beef, fish, vegetables, and flavored with soy sauce, miso, dashi, and many other seasonings.

It is topped with meat, protein, and vegetables such as sliced pork, nori seaweed, spring onions, bamboo shoots, and others. it’s impossible to list all the different combinations in which this dish can be served.

Not only each region, but even each restaurant can have a different recipe of Ramen, Ramen varieties: Tsukemen-Hiyashi Chuka- Hakata Ramen- Miso Ramen- Shoyu Ramen- Tonkotsu Ramen-Shio Ramen-Champon.




Udon

Udon is Japanese noodles made of wheat flour. It is thicker than soba and is also served either hot or cold and with various toppings such as fried tofu (kitsune udon), tempura (tempura udon), and mountain vegetables (sansai udon).

It is commonly served in dashi stock with soy sauce and mirin. Most of the time it comes with Negi (Welsh onion).

The toppings for udon are also seasonal, and they include tempura-battered vegetables, shrimps, sliced spring onions, fried tofu, or rice cakes.

Some of the most common udon noodle soup dishes include kitsune udon (‘fox udon’, topped with aburaage fried tofu), tempura udon (topped with tempura battered seafood and vegetables), and chikara udon (‘power udon’, topped with grilled mochi rice cakes).




Soba

Soba is one of the three main varieties of noodles most frequently eaten in Japan. Unlike udon and ramen; soba noodles are made partially, if not entirely, from buckwheat flour.

Soba may or may not mix other ingredients in the dough. Soba noodles are thin (Udon noodles are thick) and they can be eaten also cold or hot making it an ideal dish year-round.

After boiling the noodles in hot water, it is eaten dipped in cold soup, or by pouring hot soup over it. The soba broth (tsuyu) is typically made from kombu or dried bonito broth, seasoned with soy sauce and mirin.

As we mentioned soba can be served hot in soups with toppings of spring onions, agetama tempura flakes, kamaboko fish cakes, and/or grilled mochi), or cold with a side of tsuyu and garnishes of green onions, shredded nori seaweed, and wasabi.

When served, the noodles are picked up with chopsticks, then slurped loudly, which is a part of common culture in Japan.

The most popular soba dishes include kitsune soba, tanuki soba, tempura soba, and kake soba. There are also regional soba dishes such as ita soba (Yamagata Prefecture), matcha soba (Uji), nishin soba (Kyoto Prefecture), and Wanko soba (Iwate Prefecture).



Edamame

Edamame soybeans are often served as a side dish in some Japanese restaurants, but they can also be consumed as a light snack, eaten fresh from the pod.

Sushi

Sushi is one of the best-known Japanese foods around the world.

It consists of a piece of rice seasoned with a rice vinegar mix (made with sugar and salt) mixed with different ingredients - a variety of fishes, vegetables, and nori (seaweed).

Sushi is generally eaten with soy sauce and wasabi, but those who aren't fond of wasabi can ask for "Sabi-nuki" (meaning "without wasabi"), you use the chopsticks to grab the pieces of sushi and dip them into soy sauce or wasabi upside down, or both, according to your choice.

Originally, sushi was only a method of preserving fish - first developed in Southeast Asia, but it reached Japan in the 8th century.

Depending on the shape and ingredients that are used, sushi can be Nigiri sushi, Maki sushi, Oshi sushi, Temaki sushi, etc.



Sashimi

Sashimi is similar to sushi but without rice. It is served as an appetizer

It is raw fish or seafood thinly sliced into easy-to-eat pieces & served with soy sauce and other ingredients such as wasabi or ginger paste and decorated with shiso leaves, cucumbers, and seaweed (wakame and tosaka-nori).

The most common ingredients used in the preparation of sashimi are tuna, squid, scallop, whale, and octopus.

The common and popular varieties are maguro and other tuna varieties, salmon, mackerel, and sea bream.



Onigiri

Onigiri is rice that used to be rolled into small balls to be easily picked up and eaten.

It is also called omusubi, may just look like plain rice, but they often have a savory filling inside and are wrapped with a salty sheet of nori seaweed.

The wrapping in nori seaweed did not come about until the late 16th century.

This is a classic choice for a snack or light meal.



Nigiri

Nigiri or nigirizushi is a special kind of hand-pressed sushi where the meat is sliced and pressed on top of sushi rice. Sometimes, nori seaweed is used to wrap the whole concoction and keep it together.

The topping is usually seafood such as shrimp, tuna, haddock, or eel, and it should always be fresh and of the highest quality. Traditionally, nigirizushi is paired with shiso leaves, wasabi, soy sauce, or pickled ginger. It is sometimes garnished with daikon and salted seaweed.



Tempura

Tempura is more of a snack than a dish.

Tempura consists of seafood, vegetables, mushrooms, or meat coated with batter (flour and egg.) and deep-fried until they reach a perfect crunchiness level, it may be seasoned with salt or dipped in a light sauce before eating.

The tempura was introduced to Japan by the Portuguese in the 16th century and has become one of Japan's most famous dishes internationally.



Korokke

Korokke is a Japanese deep-fried dish that is similar to the French dish croquette.

It consists of a mix of mashed potatoes and chopped meat, seafood, or vegetables. The combination of those ingredients is shaped in a patty and rolled in flour, eggs, and breadcrumbs, then deep-fried.

Yakitori

Yakitori or ‘‘grilled chicken’, is a Japanese type of grilled chicken.

Yakitori is a popular food where chicken is cut into small pieces, then placed on bamboo skewers and grilled over charcoal on traditional yakitori grills with pieces of green or Welsh onions (Negi), Almost every part of the chicken is used for yakitori including the white and dark meat, gizzards, skin, and other organs.

Yakitori is usually seasoned lightly with salt when it comes, so take the first bite without adding extra condiments. You can eat right off the skewer.

Negima is one of the most common types of yakitori in Japan.



Chashu

Chashu is a slowly braised pork belly, a staple Japanese dish infused with traditional flavors of soy sauce and sake. The dish can be made with a flat pork belly, but the pieces can also be rolled to create more sophisticated versions which cook more evenly. Prepared pork belly is covered in a fragrant mixture of soy sauce, mirin, sake, and sugar. The liquid is additionally seasoned with sliced ginger and scallions, and the meat is braised on low heat for hours until it soaks up all the layered flavors and turns the thick pork belly into an incredibly soft, tender, and juicy piece of meat.



Sukiyaki

Sukiyaki is a Japanese sweet and salty hot-pot meal. It is usually prepared tableside on a portable gas stove, in a traditional shallow iron pan. This popular Japanese dish is usually made with beef, preferably the well-marbled tender cuts. However, some varieties use pork or even tofu, creating the vegetarian version of the dish. Sukiyaki is made with several different ingredients, like thin slices of beef, green onions, tomatoes, mushrooms, and tofu. Other ingredients in sukiyaki include sliced Chinese cabbage, mushrooms, leeks, gelatinous konnyaku noodles, and shungiku leaves, The pieces of food are dipped into raw beaten egg before being eaten.

All the ingredients are then quickly cooked in a mixture of mirin, soy sauce, and sugar. Sukiyaki is a communal style dish, served in one pot, then shared among a larger group of people.

The name ‘sukiyaki’ means ‘cook what you like’, and the joy of sukiyaki comes from being able to prepare the dish with your fellow diners, at the table, using whatever ingredients you desire.

A nabe dish prepared with thinly sliced meat, vegetables, mushrooms, tofu, and shirataki (konyaku noodles) simmered in a sweet soy sauce broth.



Gyoza

Gyoza is a famous dumpling in Japan that has a crescent shape.

It is made from a minced mixture of fillings as minced pork or chicken, cabbage, chives, mushroom, a substantial amount of garlic, ginger, and green onions. which are wrapped up in a circular gyoza wrapper made with wheat flour, eggs, and water, then crimped or folded around the edges to make an iconic half-moon shape.

Gyoza dumplings are normally cooked by frying on one side (a process that gives the gyoza a crisp, savory bottom), and then steaming for 2-3 minutes so that the rest of the wrapper is smooth and silky, and the filling inside is moist and juicy.

Enjoy them with a dip made with soy sauce, rice vinegar, and spicy oil.



Shabu Shabu

Shabu-shabu is a popular dish consisting of thinly sliced meat (beef, lamb, pork, shrimp, chicken, duck, crab, or lobster) and vegetables (watercress, shinkiku, chard, garlic, chives, moyashi, etc.) mushrooms (shiitake and shimeji) and others ( udon, konnyaku, kamaboku, etc.) cooked in broth. This broth is only for cooking the ingredients.

To serve the dish, only the meat and vegetables (without the broth) are removed and then seasoned with the ponzu sauce. Steamed rice and a variety of sauces are often served on the side, accompanying the main dish. The dish is typically shared and eaten communally, each person dipping a slice of meat in the central pot that is filled with boiling water.




Nankotsu

Nankotsu is a traditional Japanese dish made with chicken cartilage, usually the parts from the breast bone or the leg. The cartilage is placed on skewers, and it's then grilled (or sometimes deep-fried) as a yakitori dish. Nankotsu doesn't have a strong flavor, and the texture is often described as very crunchy and chewy. The dish is typically served with salt and lemon wedges on the side.


Okonomiyaki

Okonomiyaki is a savory Japanese version of pancake or omelet, it is a type of grilled pancake with mixed various ingredients.

Okonomiyaki is a mixture made with flour, yam, and egg. As the name suggests, you can also add anything you like. The most commons ingredients are green onion, shrimp, beef, vegetables, squid, mochi, and cheese.

It is cooked in a skillet and usually made by the customers themselves, which can be part of the fun. Because the preparation has to be cooked from both sides, by the time it has to be turned.

when served the okonomiyaki garnished with condiments such as Japanese mayonnaise, pickled ginger, fish, or seaweed flakes, and topped with a sauce similar to the thick Worcestershire sauce.



Nikuman

Nikuman are Japanese-style steamed pork buns that were influenced by the traditional Chinese baozi. They consist of leavened wheat dough wrapped around a flavorful ground pork filling.

The meat is combined with different vegetables and usually seasoned with soy sauce and various condiments and spices. The soft, warm, and juicy nikuman buns are mostly enjoyed in the wintertime as popular and comforting street food.


Tamagoyaki

Tamagoyaki is a Japanese omelet dish made by using a unique cooking method - the eggs are folded into themselves to rolling up several layers of beaten eggs until they are fully cooked. Although the omelet has no fillings, it is usually seasoned with sugar, mirin, and soy sauce.

Tamagoyaki can often be found in bento boxes, and it is traditionally served either for breakfast or as a sushi topping.


Chawanmushi

Chawanmushi is a delicate custard-soup, its name meaning steamed in a teacup.

Each portion of the dish is ideally served in a small, lidded cup, either as an appetizer or as a part of a bigger meal. The custard usually consists of an egg mixture that can be flavored with numerous ingredients such as dashi (Japanese stock), soy sauce, mushrooms, tofu, Ginko nut, or steamed shrimp. Chawanmushi can be served hot, warm, or cold, and can be garnished with carrot shavings, Japanese parsley, or even more seafood.


Tonkatsu

Tonkatsu is a Japanese dish that consists of a breaded, deep-fried/tempura pork cutlet. It involves cutting the pig's back center into two-to-three-centimeter-thick slices, coating them with panko, frying them in oil, and then serving with tonkatsu sauce, rice, and vegetable salad.


Gyūdon

Gyūdon is one of the most popular and inexpensive fast food dishes in Japan.

Its name can be literally translated to beef bowl. The dish consists of beef and onions served over a bowl of rice. Beef and onions are cooked in a combination of mirin, sugar, sake, and soy sauce, imparting a salty-sweet flavor to the dish.

It is served with pickled red ginger and red chili.



Dessert

Taiyaki

Taiyaki is a Japanese fish-shaped cake, commonly sold as street food or as a snack. It imitates the shape of tai (Seabream), which it is named after. The most common filling is red bean paste that is made from sweetened azuki beans. Other common fillings may be custard, chocolate, cheese, or sweet potato.



Mochi

Mochi is an important part of Japanese cuisine and culture.

Mochi is a Japanese rice cake made of mochigome, a short-grain japonica glutinous rice, and sometimes other ingredients such as water, sugar, and cornstarch. The rice is pounded into paste and molded into the desired shape. In Japan, it is traditionally made in a ceremony called mochitsuki.

Mochi was commonly prepared and served during religious festivities, as people believed it brings fortune and health.



Wagashi

Wagashi are traditional Japanese sweets that are often served with green tea, especially the types made of mochi, anko (azuki bean paste), and fruit. Wagashi are typically made from plant-based ingredients.

The most popular wagashi include Dango (sweet mochi balls on skewered sticks, often served with sugar syrup), daifuku (mochi rice stuffed with Anko), dorayaki (Anko sandwiched between two thick pancakes), and yokan (blocks of Anko hardened with kanten and sugar).



Coffee Jelly

Coffee jelly is a very common Japanese dessert, particularly in summer.

It is a simple dish of jelly flavored with black coffee or espresso and sugar. It was invented in Japan during the early 1900s and has been a favorite treat ever since, particularly during the summertime.

You can eat it with whipped cream, ice cream, or sweetened condensed milk.



Castella

Castella (Kasutera) is a traditional Japanese sponge cake made with sugar, flour, eggs, and starchy syrup. This Nagasaki specialty is raised only by egg foam, with no added butter or oil, and has a soft, moist, and spongy texture.

The cake is also known as Kasutera and was brought to Japan in the 16th century by Portuguese merchants.




Soufflé Cheesecake

Soufflé Cheesecake originated in Japan and is widely known as Japanese Cheesecake or Japanese Cotton Cheesecake outside of Japan. It combines the egg whites into the cake mixture and is baked in a bain-marie (water bath).



Green tea cookies

The green tea cookies are made with matcha green tea powder which gives the cookies a beautiful green color. They are crispy on the outside and soft from the inside.


Dango

Dango is a traditional Japanese sweet treat, round shape presented as rice flour and sugar dumplings skewered on a bamboo stick.

Some region-specific versions use other types of flour (such as potato or millet flour) or different ingredients such as green tea or azuki bean paste.

Today, there are numerous varieties of Dango, such as Anko, cha, Kuri, niku, teppanyaki, denpun, bocchan, sasa, kinako, and hanami Dango.



Raindrop Cake (Mizu Shingen Mochi)

Mizu Shingen Mochi better known as the raindrop cake is an agar-agar jelly that looks like a large ball of water. It’s pretty, but because it’s mostly made of water, it doesn’t taste like much. It can be served with any topping you like.



Matcha Mille Crêpe

Matcha Mille Crepe Cake is made of thin layers of green tea crepes stacked together with fresh whipped cream in-between.


Zenzai

Japanese zenzai is an unusual dessert that combines thick red bean soup with mochi, the famous sticky rice cake. It can be made by boiling dried red beans or diluting Anko (sweetened red bean paste) in water. The soup can either have a hard or a completely smooth texture. Zenzai can be enriched with different flavors such as orange zest, but the flavor should generally be subtle and natural with a hint of sweetness. Before serving, the hot mochi cakes which have been heated or grilled are placed into this hearty liquid dessert.


Daifuku

Daifuku often referred to as daifuku mochi, is a popular Japanese confectionery.

It is usually shaped into small round balls, which consist of a chewy outer layer and a creamy, sweet filling. The daifuku shell is made with mochi, a glutinous ingredient created through the time-consuming process of crushing boiled or steamed rice.

It is often tinted with different colors, most commonly pale pink and light green, creating a decorative and appealing treat.

Each daifuku cake is filled with luscious creamy and sweet content, and the most common is the traditional semi-sweet red bean paste, popularly called Anko or tsubuan.



Drinks

Matcha

Matcha is finely ground powder of specially grown and processed green tea leaves, traditionally consumed in East Asia. The green tea plants used for matcha are shade-grown for three to four weeks before harvest; the stems and veins are removed during processing.





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