sashimi, sushi - even the words used to describe the most basic of
Japanese dishes are exotic and beautiful. Japanese cuisine is easily
one of the healthiest in the world, with its concentration on fresh
fish, seafood, rice and vegetables. The pungent sauces and delicate
flavors of fresh foods complement each other beautifully, and the
methods of presentation turn even simple meals into beautiful events.
The Japanese have
easily a dozen different names for rice, depending on how it is
prepared and what it is served with. The most common meal is a rice
bowl, a bowl of white rice served with various toppings or
ingredients mixed in. So popular is it that the Rice Bowl has even
made its way into the world of Western convenience foods alongside
ramen noodles. Domburi is a bowl of rice topped with another food:
domburi tendon, for instance, is rice topped with tempura and domburi
gyudon is rice topped with beef. The Japanese adopted fried rice from
the Chinese, and a century ago, when curry was first introduced,
developed Kare Raisu, curry rice. It is now such a popular dish that
there are many fast-food restaurants that serve several versions of
it in take-away bowls.
Besides white rice
served as a side dish, Japanese cuisine also features onigiri - rice
balls wrapped in seaweed, often with a 'surprise' in the middle, and
kayu, a thin gruel made of rice that resembles oatmeal.
As an island
nation, it's not surprising that seafood is featured in Japanese
cuisine. Sushi and sashimi both are raw fish and seafood with various
spices. Impeccably fresh fish is the secret to wonderful sashimi and
sushi, served with wasabi and soya sauce. The Japanese love of beauty
and simplicity turns slices and chunks of raw fish into miniature
works of art.
Fish sliced so
thin that it's transparent may be arranged on a platter in a delicate
fan that alternates pink-fleshed salmon with paler slices of fish.
Sushi is typically arranged to best display the colors and textures
to their best advantage, turning the platter and plate into palettes
for the artistry of the chef.
meat plays a minor role in the Japanese diet, though it has been
taking a larger and larger role over the past fifty years as Japan
becomes more westernized. Beef, chicken and pork may be served with
several meals a week now. One of the more popular meat dishes is
'yakitori' - chicken grilled on a skewer and served with sauce. A
typical quick lunch might include a skewer of yakitori and a rice
bowl with sushi sauce.
In an interesting
twist, Japan has imported dishes from other cuisines and 'Japanized'
them, adopting them as part of their own cuisines. Korokke, for
instance, are croquettes adopted from those introduced by the English
last century. In Japan, the most common filling is a mixture of
mashed potatoes and minced meat. Other Soshoyu - western dishes that
have made their way into Japanese everyday cuisine include
'omuraisu', a rice omelet, and hambagau, the Japanized version of an
About The Author:
Kirsten Hawkins is
a food and nutrition expert specializing the Mexican, Chinese, and
Italian food. Visit www.food-and-nutrition.com for more information
on cooking delicious and healthy meals.