We've all probably heard of the famous Japanese dish, sushi, which is also popular to the Japanese during special occasions. Sushi is a food made from rice with vinegar, along with toppings or fillings, such as; fish, seafood, vegetables, and eggs. The toppings can be served many different ways; raw, cooked, or marinated. They can also be scattered in the rice, rolled in nori (edible seaweed wrappers), laid onto hand-formed clumps of rice, or stuffed in a small tofu pouch. Sushi is very difficult to prepare, despite the simple ingredients. It requires high quality ingredients, knowledge on different types of fishes, and attention to the details.
Ramen is the Japanese name for a type of dish containing these noodles. We have all probably tasted Ramen before as it is also common in North America, Europe, East Asia, and Japan itself. In Japan, ramen is a fresh noodle dish often sold in fast food-like shops. It is also common at home, as it is inexpensive and easily prepare with just boiled water. Most ramen is made from four basic ingredients; wheat flour, salt, water, and kansui. Despite being a popular dish, ramen is often criticized for its health concern problems and is popular among college students.
Mochi is the Japanese version of the Chinese rice cake made of sticky rice, pounded into paste and molded into shape. It may be made in an automatic mochi machine or a bread maker. While eaten year-round, mochi is also a traditional food for the Japanese New Year and commonly eaten at that time. Mochi is very sticky and somewhat tricky to eat. After New Year, it is reported in the media how many people (often elderly) die from choking on mochi.
Bento is Japanese for a takeout meal. A traditional bento consists of rice, fish or meat and pickled or cooked vegetables as a side dish. Containers range from disposable mass produced to hand crafted lacquer wares. While bentos are available at convenience stores and shops throughout Japan, it is still considered an essential skill of a Japanese housewife to be able to prepare an appealing boxed lunch.
Udon is a type of thick wheat-based noodle popular. Udon is said to have been imported to Japan through Korea from China in the 6th century. It is usually served in a mildly flavored broth, in its simplest form as kake udon, served in kakejiru made of dashi, Japanese soy sauce. It is usually topped with thinly chopped green onions. Other common toppings include tempura, often shrimp or kakiage (a type of mixed tempura fritter), or abura age, a type of deep-fried tofu pockets seasoned with sugar, mirin, and soy sauce. A thin slice of kamaboko, a half moon-shaped fish cake, is often added. Shichimi and beni shoga can be added to taste. The flavor of broth and topping vary from region to region. Usually, dark brown broth, made from dark soy sauce (koikuchi sh˘yu) is used in eastern Japan, and light brown broth, made from light soy sauce (usukuchi sh˘yu) is used in western Japan. This is even noticeable in packaged instant noodles, which are often sold in two different versions for east and west.
Onigiri is a Japanese rice ball snack most commonly formed into triangle or oval shapes and wrapped in nori (edible seaweed wrappers). Traditionally, the onigiri is filled with umeboshi, shake (salted salmon), katsuobushi or any other salty or sour ingredient. If a person pours vinegar on the onigiri, it transforms into sushi, and a different kind of food. In practice, however, either is used for preservation of rice.
Takoyaki (literally fried octopus) is a popular Japanese dumpling made of batter, octopus, tenkasu, pickled ginger, konnyaku, and green onion, topped with okonomiyaki sauce, nori (edible seaweed wrappers), mayonnaise, and katsuobushi (fish shavings). Making takoyaki requires a takoyakiki, a special frying pan made of cast iron with hemispherical molds. Although takoyaki can easily be made at home, provided the equipment is available, it is usually considered fast food and is almost exclusively sold on the street. Frozen takoyaki is also available. It is especially popular in the Kansai region but has seen a surge in popularity in recent years in other parts of Japan. In the Kansai region, takoyaki is considered a side dish and eaten with a bowl of cooked rice. Elsewhere in Japan it is eaten without rice as a snack food.
Japanese green tea
Green tea is so common in Japan that it is more known as "tea" and even "Japanese tea". Types of tea are commonly graded depending on the quality and the parts of the plant used. There are large variations in both price and quality within these broad categories, and there are many specialty green teas that fall outside this spectrum. The very best Japanese green tea is said to be that from the Uji region of Kyoto.
Gyoza is a dumpling consists of a ground meat or vegetable filling wrapped into a thinly rolled piece of dough, which is then sealed by crimping. The most common recipe found in Japan is a mixture of minced pork, cabbage, and nira (Garlic chives), seasoned with soy sauce, rice vinegar and sesame oil, wrapped into thinly rolled piece of dough. It is grilled on a teppan. Gyoza shops can be found throughout Japan, but more commonly they are sold as a side dish in ramen restaurants. The most popular preparation method is called yaki-gyoza is where the dumpling is first fried on the backside, later water is added. Sealed with a lid the upper part of the gyoza is steamed until the water has evaporated. Other popular methods include boiling and deep frying. Dipped into a sauce of rice vinegar, soy sauce and/or spiced oil, they are best enjoyed while still steaming hot.
Soba is a thin Japanese buckwheat noodle, usually cooked and served with various toppings and condiments. The standard form is kake soba, "soba in broth". Kake soba consists of cooked soba noodles in a bowl of hot broth made of dashi, mirin, and shoyu (Japanese soy sauce) and topped with sliced negi (welsh onions).