Now that you have an idea of the "essences" that make dishes Japanese, let's take a specific look at some of Japan's most popular menus.
The main ingredients of the Japanese diet consists of rice, seafood(fish, clams) and seaplants, various types of veggies, fruits, and roots, eggs, beef, pork, and chicken; most of which are familiar to other cuisines as well.
Then the ingredients are prepared in numerous styles to make each dishes distinctively Japanese.
Following is a list of the main preparation styles and there examples:
[Sashimi / Sushi]
Sushi & sashimi. Not a lot of explanation is needed, we bet, for these two menus are widely popular in Japan and throughout the world. Sashimi is seafood, which includes fish, squids, octopus, clams, and other marine products, consumed at their raw state. But trust us, it's not even a bit "yucky" or "gross". Only the freshest ingredients could be consumed raw, and when it's fresh, the ingredient's natural flavor and nutritious elements are at it's best. When you put the sashimi on top of a "bite-size" vinegar-flavored-rice, then you have a sushi. Dip it in soy sauce and pop it in your mouth!
[Broiled eggplants]- "yaki-nasu"
Though the ingredients and the recipe is very simple, the pure and simple taste of the eggplant is exquisite, and is a favorite breakfast menu for the Japanese. The soy-sauce, a bit of 'mirin'(rice vinegar), and the bonito shavings added after the grilling, brings out the best of the eggplant. The best part is that it's soo easy to make.
Known as the star of "Ofukuro-no-Aji", which means "the taste of Mom" , nikujaga is one of the most popular dishes to be served at home. With "niku" meaning meat and the "jaga" standing for potatoes in Japanese, they are the key players in this delicious stewed dish. With soy-sauce at the base of the flavor, the potatoes, meat, and onions become moistened inside the bubbling pot, and when it's ready to serve, the flavor made just right.
[Burdock saute] -"kinpira-gobo"
In Japan, the dish is named "kinpira- gobo" and is eaten just about anywhere at any time. Burdock is a popular ingredient here in Japan, because of the impressive amout of dietry fibers which is very good for your health.
Like sushi, tempura is one of the most popular menus here in Japan. After the ingredients are casted with tempura's magic spell, they will never taste the same again. The crispness of the ingredients after they've gone through the flour coating and the oil is something nothing could beat.
Imagine the sizzling tofu just after it comes out from the oil. The outer layer fried golden yellow, and the inside snowy white. Just take a bite and you and your taste buds will be amazed! The crispness of the outside and the juiciness of the tofu's inside is an adventure you'll never want to miss!
The favorite meal of a cold winter's night, the oden warms your empty belly and even your soul. When eating the 'oden', all the people gather around a big pot; the 'dashi' soup to flavor the ingredients is poured in, followed by the numerous ingredients varying from broiled eggs to fish-cakes known as 'han-pen'. - And the people all laugh and wait until the whole pot starts to boil, and when it does, it's time to dig in!
The most popular of all the steamed dishes in the Japanese cuisine, eggpot known as "chawan-mushi" is loved by all ages. This dish is made from combining eggs with a special soup called 'dashi', putting it in a seperate cup or "chawan" for each person, and steaming it all together. Since the texture is like pudding, the eggpot is treasured as one of infant's first eaten foods.
Tonjiru is one hearty soup. Filled with chunks of nutritious vegetables and topped with meat, it sure builds your stamina and keeps your body warm through the cold days of the snowy season. One bowl is all you need to get you keep on going all day long.
[Rice balls] -"oni-giri"
Rice balls, made by shaping and molding the rice together in triangular shapes, are the most familiar piece of food in Japanese people's lunches. Often, it is wrapped around with seaweed and topped with sesame, with the inside filled with anything from codroe to BBQ'ed meat. Grilled "onigiri" is famous, too. Just thinking about the broiled miso on top of the rice is enough for anyone to drool on!
[Mochi(rice cakes)] Cook the 'mochi' rice, beat it up with a humongous wooden hammer. Once the 'once-was-rice' substance becomes sticky, then you'll have what is called the "mochi". Mochi could be broiled, stewed, or even topped with red bean paste to create a sweet delight. But becareful, though. It sure is sticky.
(<- the left picture: grilled mochi)
[Soba / Udon]
There are two main noodles in Japan. Soba and the Udon. Soba is made from buck-wheat while the Udon is flour based. A note when eating the noodles: don't forget to 'show' the appreciation!
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