Culture - Japanese

WP_Post Object ( [ID] => 48133 [post_author] => 5243 [post_date] => 2017-03-29 07:30:45 [post_date_gmt] => 2017-03-28 20:30:45 [post_content] => The food of Japan is steeped in tradition. A celebration of the freshest seasonal ingredients, colours and textures, authentic Japanese cuisine is known as ‘washoku’. The first kanji character, ‘wa’, means Japan or Japanese, and also stands for harmony, while the second character, ‘shoku’, means food or to eat. Washoku is so highly regarded beyond Japan that it was registered as a UNESCO Intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity in 2013. UNESCO describes washoku as “a social practice based on a set of skills, knowledge and traditions related to the production, processing, preparation and consumption of food. It is associated with an essential spirit of respect for nature that is closely related to the sustainable use of natural resources.” Washoku

A respect for the seasons

At its heart, washoku showcases natural, locally sourced ingredients when they are in season, such as fish, rice, vegetables, fruits and wild plants. Japan is blessed with four distinct seasons, and Japanese people value the pure, natural taste of in-season ingredients so highly that you’ll often see them ‘snacking’ on simply prepared fruits, nuts and vegetables, such as roasted sweet potatoes and chestnuts in autumn.

The four elements of a washoku meal

A traditional washoku meal comprises four key elements: a bowl of steamed rice, a small dish of konomono (pickled seasonal vegetables), ju (soup containing vegetables, tofu and miso) and three cooked dishes, such as fish, tofu and vegetables.

The five flavours

Long before ‘umami’ became a buzz word in Western kitchens, Japanese cuisine has balanced five flavours: salty, sweet, bitter, sour and umami, which is best described as a ‘savoury’ flavour.

Japanese hospitality

It’s not just the food or the flavours that define washoku cuisine. The Japanese style of hospitality is also unique. You may have heard the kitchen team and waiters call out “Itadakimasu!” as you enter your favourite Japanese restaurant, but do you know what it means? This cheerful exclamation gives thanks for nature’s bounty and the meal you are about to enjoy. Next time you hear this phrase, take a moment to thank the farmers and cooks who have made your food. And be sure to brush up on your Japanese table manners with this simple guide. Japanese Table Manners Image Courtesy: y-a-n used under the Creative Commons Licence

Washoku in the past and present

While washoku is firmly based in the traditions of the past, it is just as relevant today. Our resident Japanese cooking expert, Kin-San, has even been enlisted to teach washoku classes in Melbourne and Brisbane, proving that these ancient techniques and traditions are valued by today’s up-and-coming chefs. [caption id="attachment_45926" align="alignnone" width="400"]Ikuei Arakane Chef Ikuei Arakane[/caption] For more on authentic Japanese cuisine, read about the art of kaiseki dining, and discover 10 facts you didn’t know about Japanese food. [post_title] => What Is Washoku? [post_excerpt] => Authentic Japanese cuisine is known as ‘washoku’ and is a celebration of the freshest seasonal ingredients, colours and textures. This guide to authentic Japanese cuisine will define what washoku means, including the key elements of washoku food and hospitality. [post_status] => publish [comment_status] => open [ping_status] => open [post_password] => [post_name] => what-is-washoku [to_ping] => [pinged] => [post_modified] => 2017-03-28 17:29:28 [post_modified_gmt] => 2017-03-28 06:29:28 [post_content_filtered] => [post_parent] => 0 [guid] => https://asianinspirations.com.au/?post_type=asian-culture&p=48133 [menu_order] => 0 [post_type] => asian-culture [post_mime_type] => [comment_count] => 0 [filter] => raw )

What Is Washoku?

The food of Japan is steeped in tradition. A celebration of the freshest seasonal ingredients, colours and textures, authentic Japanese cuisine is known as ‘washoku’. The first kanji character, ‘wa’, means Japan or Japanese, and also stands for harmony, while the second character, ‘shoku’, means food or to eat.

Washoku is so highly regarded beyond Japan that it was registered as a UNESCO Intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity in 2013. UNESCO describes washoku as “a social practice based on a set of skills, knowledge and traditions related to the production, processing, preparation and consumption of food. It is associated with an essential spirit of respect for nature that is closely related to the sustainable use of natural resources.”

Washoku

A respect for the seasons

At its heart, washoku showcases natural, locally sourced ingredients when they are in season, such as fish, rice, vegetables, fruits and wild plants. Japan is blessed with four distinct seasons, and Japanese people value the pure, natural taste of in-season ingredients so highly that you’ll often see them ‘snacking’ on simply prepared fruits, nuts and vegetables, such as roasted sweet potatoes and chestnuts in autumn.

The four elements of a washoku meal

A traditional washoku meal comprises four key elements: a bowl of steamed rice, a small dish of konomono (pickled seasonal vegetables), ju (soup containing vegetables, tofu and miso) and three cooked dishes, such as fish, tofu and vegetables.

The five flavours

Long before ‘umami’ became a buzz word in Western kitchens, Japanese cuisine has balanced five flavours: salty, sweet, bitter, sour and umami, which is best described as a ‘savoury’ flavour.

Japanese hospitality

It’s not just the food or the flavours that define washoku cuisine. The Japanese style of hospitality is also unique. You may have heard the kitchen team and waiters call out “Itadakimasu!” as you enter your favourite Japanese restaurant, but do you know what it means? This cheerful exclamation gives thanks for nature’s bounty and the meal you are about to enjoy. Next time you hear this phrase, take a moment to thank the farmers and cooks who have made your food. And be sure to brush up on your Japanese table manners with this simple guide.

Japanese Table Manners
Image Courtesy: y-a-n used under the Creative Commons Licence

Washoku in the past and present

While washoku is firmly based in the traditions of the past, it is just as relevant today. Our resident Japanese cooking expert, Kin-San, has even been enlisted to teach washoku classes in Melbourne and Brisbane, proving that these ancient techniques and traditions are valued by today’s up-and-coming chefs.

Ikuei Arakane

Chef Ikuei Arakane

For more on authentic Japanese cuisine, read about the art of kaiseki dining, and discover 10 facts you didn’t know about Japanese food.

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