The Lowdown on Japanese Food

By Raymond J G Wells

Japan’s cuisine ranks highly as regards presentation and most dishes are a visual treat for the eyes. This delicate cuisine is also healthy with its traditional emphasis on the likes of noodles, fresh seafood and vegetables.

Japan’s cuisine is certainly one of the world’s best presented and most delicate cuisines and it’s no wonder that just like automobiles and consumer electronics it has been exported around the world. Japanese food is not only visually very appealing, it’s also healthy, with its traditional emphasis on noodles, vegetables and fresh seafood. In recent years the people of Japan have consumed more meat and dairy products but most Japanese dishes are still largely oriented towards noodles, fish and seafood.

Authentic Japanese food is now widely available in the US and Europe and more and more people have grown to appreciate the simple beauty of Japanese food. Dishes that are popular with the increasing number of Americans and Europeans who have a passion for Japanese food include teppanyaki, sushi, sashimi, yakitori, shabu-shabu, kitsune-udon, ramen noodles, Beef Usu-Yaki and Tempura.

Teppanyaki : tender beef, seafood and vegetables cooked on a metal hotplate set in the center of the table in front of the diner.

Sushi : small pieces of raw seafood typically prawn, tuna, squid, sardine or salmon placed on top of a ball of lightly vinegored rice. Wasabi, a pungent horseradish sauce, is usually added.

Sashimi : raw seafood such as salmon, tuna, shrimps, scallops, sea bream and octopus eaten with the likes of soy sauce and the fiery wasabi which is a very pungent green horse radish sauce.

Yakitori : there are various varieties but usually small chunks of chicken and vegetables are grilled on skewers.

Shabu-Shabu : can best be described as the Japanese version of steamboat where, items such as thin slices of beef, chicken, prawns, squid, are simmered with bean curd, vermicelli and various vegetables. You dip the slices in sesame or soy source.

Kitsune Udon : comprises wheat flour noodles cooked in fish broth with fried bean curd and vegetables such as leeks.

Ramen Noodles : are Chinese-type noodles cooked in a meat broth with thinly sliced meat, spinach and leeks.

Tonuki-Sabe : comprises buckwheat noodles cooked in fish boullion and topped with fried flour crust, spinach and fish cake.

Beef Usu Yaki : thin and delicate sliced beef rolls with garlic.

Tempura : is cooked by frying vegetables and shrimps or prawn in fresh vegetable oil after coating each morsel with a batter made of eggs water and wheat flour. Eaten hot and dipped in specially prepared soy sauce and grated radish. Tempura, was originally introduced to Japan by Spanish and Portuguese missionaries in the late 16th century.

The best accompaniment to Japanese meals is probably sake, a fermented liquor made from rice, another option is the highly refreshing and much less potent green tea.

Raymond Wells is a British born economist and writer currently living and working in Malaysia. He has numerous writing credits in both print and electronic magazines. Among the former are articles in Day and Night, Trail finder, Southern Scribe, Writer’s Forum, International Living, Changi, Far East Traveler and Home and Country. He has written for e-zines such as Tempo, Worldwide Freelance Writer, Zinos, Writers Mirror, BootsnAllcom and now for the-vu.

1 Comment

  1. I spent a year as an exchange student in Kyoto Japan, and I have to say I probably wouldnt have gotten by if it wasnt for a cheap dinner of udon a few times a week! There is even one shop where you can eat for free if you do 30 minutes of washing after, but I cant say I was ever that poor! Anyway, I found a load more tasty looking ideas at this udon recipe site.

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