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Japanese Dishes

TEMPURA

Ingredients:

  • Tempura batter mix*
  • Tempura dipping sauce*
  • Prawn: raw and large
  • Seafood: almost everything is possible
  • Vegetables: pumpkin, carot, sweet potatoe, eggplant, and more
  • Mushrooms
  • and much more to try.

* This ingredient may not be available in Western supermarkets, but you should be able to find it in Japanese grocery stores that exist in most large European and American cities.


Preparation:

  1. Prawn: Remove the head and the shell. Make little cuts on the inside of the curved prawn since they look nicer if their posture is straight.
  2. Cut the vegetables in about 1cm thick pieces.
  3. You can use whole mushrooms.
  4. Mixtures: Cut various ingredients in small pieces and mix them together, eg. green onion, prawn and carots.
  5. Mix Tempura flour with the amount of water described on the package. Do not mix it completely, but leave some small lumps in it.
  6. Cover all the ingredients completely with the batter.
    Mix also the mixtures made of the small cut ingredients with batter, and try to deep fry it together. Don’t let them fall apart in all the pieces.
  7. Deep fry at 180 degrees celsius. Be careful, and do not use wet ingredients because the water would react strongly with the hot oil, which may harm your skin or eyes.
  8. When the Tempura pieces are beautifully golden, take them out, and try to remove as much oil as possible.

Serving and eating:

There are a few different ways to serve Tempura. Here are two of them:

  • Serve the Tempura pieces on a plate, and prepare some bowls with Tempura dipping sauce.
  • Tendon (Tempura Donburi): Put the pieces in Tempura dipping sauce, remove them, and put them on top of cooked rice in a bowl. (One bowl per person)

SUSHI

Sushi is the most famous Japanese dish outside of Japan, and one of the most popular dishes among the Japanese themselves. In Japan, sushi is usually enjoyed on special occasions, such as a celebration. During the Edo period, “sushi” refered to pickled fish conserved in vinegar. Nowadays sushi can be defined as a dish containing rice which has been prepared with sushi vinegar. There are many different types of sushi. Some popular ones are:

Nigiri
Small rice balls with fish, shellfish, etc. on top. There are countless varieties of nigirizushi, some of the most common ones being tuna, shrimp, eel, squid, octopus and fried egg.
Gunkan
Small cups made of sushi rice and dried seaweed filled with seafood, etc. There are countless varieties of gunkanzushi, some of the most common ones being sea urchin and various kinds of fish eggs.
Norimaki
Sushi rice and seafood, etc. rolled in dried seaweed sheets. There are countless varieties of sushi rolls differing in ingredients and thickness. Sushi rolls prepared “inside out” are very popular outside of Japan, but rarely found in Japan.
Temaki
Temakizushi (literally: hand rolls) are cones made of nori seaweed and filled with sushi rice, seafood and vegetables.
Oshizushi
Oshizushi is pressed sushi, in which the fish is pressed onto the sushi rice in a wooden box. The picture shows trout oshizushi in form of a popular ekiben (train station lunch box).
Inari
Inarizushi is a simple and inexpensive type of sushi, in which sushi rice is filled into aburaage (deep fried tofu) bags.
Chirashi
Chirashizushi is a dish in which seafood, mushroom and vegetables are spread over sushi rice. It can resemble domburi with the difference being that chirashizushi uses sushi rice while domburi uses regular, unseasoned rice.

Note that “sushi” becomes “zushi” in word combinations in which “sushi” is the second word, e.g. nigirizushi.

SASHIMI


Sashimi is thinly sliced, raw seafood. Many different kinds of fresh fish and seafood are served raw in the Japanese cuisine. Sashimi, while similar to sushi, is distinct for its absence of vinigered rice. When slices of fish are served on top of a small ball of rice, it is called nigiri zushi.
Sashimi is usually beautifully arranged and served on top of shredded daikon and shiso leaves. The sashimi pieces are dipped into a dish of soya sauce before being eaten. The daikon and shiso can also be dipped in soya sauce and eaten; both have a fresh, minty taste. Depending on the kind of sashimi, wasabi or ground ginger may accompany the dish and be added to the sashimi as a condiment.

Some of the most popular kinds of sashimi are:

  • Maguro: Tuna
  • Toro: Fatty Tuna
  • Ebi: Prawn
  • Saba: Mackerel
  • Ika: Squid
  • Tako: Octopus

 

YAKITORI

Yakitori is grilled chicken speared on sticks. All different parts of the chicken, thighs, skin, liver, etc. can be used for yakitori. The following recipe shows one of the most popular kind which is prepared with chicken thighs and leek.


Ingredients:

  • Chicken thighs: without bone and skin
  • Japanese leek (negi*), leek, or green onion
  • Soya sauce
  • Mirin* or sake*
  • Sugar
  • Honey or maple syrup
  • Small wooden spears

* This ingredient may not be available in Western supermarkets, but you should be able to find it in Japanese grocery stores that exist in most large European and American cities.


Preparation:

  1. Mix together 4 tablespoons of soya sauce, 3 tablespoons of sugar, a little bit of honey or maple syrup, a little bit of mirin and water, and heat it up until it’s homogenous.
  2. Cut the chicken thighs into about 3x2x2cm large pieces.
  3. Put the chicken pieces into the already prepared sauce, and let it stand for a while.
  4. Cut the leek or green onions in about 3 cm long pieces.
  5. Spear three or four pieces of chicken and some leek on each wooden stick.
  6. Grill them, or use the oven at 200 degrees celsius. (You may want to wrap the wooden sticks with aluminium foil; otherwise, they may burn off.)

General information:

Yakitori is popular among salarymen when they go out together after work. It is especially delicious with some hot sake.

POPULAR JAPANESE DISHES & Description

Japanese cuisine offers a great variety of dishes and regional specialties. Some of the most popular Japanese and Japanized dishes are listed below.

Rice Dishes

For over 2000 years, rice has been the most important food in Japanese cuisine. Despite changes in eating patterns over the last few decades and slowly decreasing rice consumption in recent years, rice remains one of the most important ingredients in Japan today, and can be found in numerous dishes.

Rice Bowl
A bowl of plain cooked rice is served with most Japanese meals. For breakfast, it is sometimes mixed with a raw egg and soya sauce (tamago kake gohan) or enjoyed with natto or other toppings.
Sushi
Sushi can be defined as a dish which contains sushi rice, cooked rice that is prepared with sushi vinegar. There are various kinds of sushi dishes.
Domburi
A bowl of cooked rice with some other food put on top of the rice. Some of the most popular toppings are tempura (tendon), egg and chicken (oyakodon), tonkatsu (katsudon) and beef (gyudon).
Onigiri
Onigiri are rice balls made of cooked rice and usually wrapped in nori seaweed. They are slightly salted and often contain some additional food in the center, for example an umeboshi (pickled Japanese plum), katsuobushi (dried bonito shavings), tuna or salmon. Rice balls are a popular and inexpensive snack available at convenience stores.
Kare Raisu
Kare Raisu (Curry Rice) is cooked rice with a curry sauce. It can be served with additional toppings such as tonkatsu. Curry is not a native Japanese spice, but has been used in Japan for over a century. Kare Raisu is a very popular dish, and many inexpensive Kare Raisu restaurants can be found especially in and around train stations.
Fried Rice
Fried rice or chahan has been originally introduced from China. A variety of additional ingredients such as peas, egg, negi (Japanese leek) and small pieces of carrot and pork are mixed into the rice when stir fried. It is a suitable dish for using left over rice.
Chazuke
Chazuke is a bowl of cooked rice with green tea and other ingredients, for example, salmon or tarako (cod roe) added to it. It is a suitable dish for using left over rice.
Kayu
Kayu is rice gruel, watery, soft cooked rice that resembles oatmeal. It is a suitable dish for using left over rice and is often served to sick people because it can be digested easily.

Seafood Dishes

Hundreds of different fish, shellfish and other seafood from the oceans, seas, lakes and rivers are used in the Japanese cuisine. They are prepared and eaten in many different ways, for example, raw, dried, boiled, grilled, deep fried or steamed.

Sashimi
Sashimi is raw seafood. A large number of fish can be enjoyed raw if they are fresh and prepared correctly. Most types of sashimi are enjoyed with soya sauce and wasabi.
Yakizakana
Yakizakana means grilled fish. Many varieties of fish are enjoyed in this way.

Noodle Dishes

There are various traditional Japanese noodle dishes as well as some dishes which were introduced to Japan and subsequently Japanized. Many of them enjoy a very high popularity.

Soba
Soba noodles are native Japanese noodles made of buckwheat flour or a mixture of buckwheat and wheat flour. Soba are about as thick as spaghetti. They can be served cold or hot and with various toppings.
Udon
Udon noodles are native Japanese noodles made of wheat flour. Udon are thicker than soba and can also be served either hot or cold and with various toppings.
Ramen
Ramen are Chinese style noodles prepared in a soup with various toppings. Ramen is one of the many popular dishes that were originally introduced from China but have become completely Japanized over time.
Somen
Like Udon noodles, somen are Japanese noodles made of wheat flour, but they are much thinner than Udon and Soba. Somen are usually eaten cold and are considered a summer speciality.
Yakisoba
Yakisoba are fried or deep fried Chinese style noodles served with vegetables, meat and ginger.

Nabe Dishes

Nabe dishes or hot pot dishes are prepared in a hot pot, usually at the table. Typical ingredients are vegetables such as negi (Japanese leek) and hakusai (Chinese cabbage), various mushrooms, seafood and/or meat. There are many regional and personal varieties, and they are especially popular in the cold winter months. Some special nabe dishes are:

Oden
A nabe dish prepared with various fish cakes, daikon, boiled eggs, konyaku and kombu seaweed, boiled over many hours in a soya sauce based soup.
Sukiyaki
A nabe dish prepared with thinly sliced meat, vegetables, mushrooms, tofu and shirataki (konyaku noodles). The pieces of food are dipped into a raw egg before eaten.
Shabu-Shabu
Shabu-shabu is Japanese style meat fondue. Thinly sliced meat, along with vegetables, mushrooms and tofu is dipped into a hot soup and then into ponzu vinegar or a sesame sauce before being eaten.
Chanko Nabe
Chanko nabe is traditionally the staple diet of sumo wrestlers. There are many varieties of chanko nabe. A few chanko nabe restaurants can be found around Ryogoku, the sumo district in Tokyo.

Meat Dishes

Meat has been eaten in Japan in larger amounts only since the second half of the 19th century. Nowadays there are a variety of Japanese meat dishes.

Yakitori
Yakitori are grilled chicken pieces on skewers. Most parts of the chicken can be used for yakitori.
Tonkatsu
Tonkatsu are deep fried pork cutlets. Tonkatsu is usually served with shredded cabbage or on top of cooked rice (katsudon) or with Japanese style curry rice (katsu kare).
Nikujaga
Nikujaga is a popular dish of home style cooking made of meat (niku) and potatoes (jagaimo).

Soya Bean Dishes

Tofu, natto, miso and many other important ingredients of Japanese cooking are made of soya beans. The following are some of the most popular soya bean based dishes:

Yudofu
Yudofu are tofu pieces boiled in a clear, mild soup and dipped into a soya based sauce before being eaten.
Agedashi Tofu
Agedashi Tofu are deep fried tofu pieces that are dipped into a soya based sauce before being eaten.
Miso Soup
A bowl of miso soup often accompanies breakfast, lunch and dinner. It is made by dissolving miso paste in hot water and adding additional ingredients such as wakame seaweed and small pieces of tofu.

Yoshoku Dishes

A large number of Western dishes have been introduced to Japan over the centuries. Many of them have become completely Japanized, and these dishes are now called Yoshoku dishes. Some of the most popular ones are:

Korokke
Korokke has its origins in the croquettes which were introduced to Japan in the 19th century. Korokke are breaded and deep fried, and come in many varieties depending on the filling. The most common filling is a mix of minced meat and mashed potatoes.
Omuraisu
Omuraisu (abbreviation for omelet rice) is cooked rice, wrapped in a thin omelet, and usually served with a gravy sauce or tomato ketchup.
Hayashi Raisu
Hayashi rice is Japanese style hashed beef stew, thinly sliced beef and onions in a demi-glace sauce served over or along side cooked rice. It resembles kare raisu, and, like kare raisu, it is also eaten with a spoon.
Hamubagu
Hamubagu is a Japanese style hamburger steak. It is typically served on a plate and usually with a demi-glace sauce, but without a bun.

Other Dishes

Tempura
Tempura is seafood, vegetables, mushrooms and other pieces of food coated with tempura batter and deep fried. Tempura was introduced to Japan by the Portuguese in the 16th century, but has become one of Japan’s most famous dishes internationally.
Okonomiyaki
Okonomiyaki is a mix between pizza and pancake. Various ingredients such as seafood, vegetables and meat can be mixed with the dough and placed on the okonomiyaki as topping.
Monjayaki
Monjayaki is a Kanto region specialty that is similar to Okonomiyaki, however, the dough used is much more liquid than the okonomiyaki dough.
Gyoza
Gyoza are dumplings with a filling usually made of minced vegetables and ground meat. Gyoza were introduced to Japan from China. In Japan gyoza are usually prepared by frying them.
Chawanmushi
Chawanmushi is savory steamed egg custard that usually contains pieces of chicken, shrimp, fish cake and a ginko nut mixed inside.
Tsukemono
Tsukemono are Japanese pickles. There are many variety of pickles, and a small dish of tsukemono is usually served with Japanese meals.
 

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