Japan, a land of mostly mountains and little arable land, is an island with high population density. Japan, known for its deep love for seafood, crawling creatures, meat, and fresh produce, is also a vegetarian’s paradise. The world knows this East Asian Island for its 5 enticing Japanese dishes which can take your breath away.
With a delicious contrast of traditional and modern Japanese cuisine, we bring to you 5 enticing Japanese dishes:
Ochazuke is a dish in which hot green tea is poured over cooked white rice and topped with a few simple ingredients. Ochazuke, which is extremely easy to prepare, can be enjoyed as a light meal or snack at any time of the day. Though it is as simple as pouring a cup of tea on a bowl of plain white rice with toppings, the flavour of the dish depends on the particular type of rice used, the type of tea used, and the topping. Favorite Japanese toppings include pickled plums (umeboshi), dried sea laver (nori), grilled salmon, soy-simmered fish and seaweed, tempura, and broiled eel. Meat can be grilled chicken, grilled salmon, smoked salmon, and oysters marinated in oil. Various seasonings that can be added for flavour include sesame seeds, Japanese horseradish (wasabi), or freshly grated ginger. Ochazuke is normally served in a large bowl large enough to hold the rice and a generous amount of tea.
Shabu shabu, a Japanese hot pot meal, made of thinly sliced meat, a variety of vegetables and sauces, all cooked together on the table in a Nabe. The primary ingredients include raw beef, pork, chicken, tofu and vegetables, such as Chinese cabbage, lotus root, and enokitake mushrooms. Two traditional dipping sauces, such as a goma (sesame seed) sauce and a ponzu dipping sauce are used. Alongside this, rice or noodles with mochi is eaten. At the end of the meal, the broth is combined into a delicious soup with either leftover rice or the noodles and mochi. The best part about Shabu shabu is the fact that the nabe, raw vegetables and meat and given to you at your table, which gives you the opportunity to make it by yourself, with ingredient proportions of your choice. If you ever go to Japan, don’t forget to try this scrumptious entree.
Nama Yuba or Yuba, is fresh tofu skin, that has a texture similar to mozzarella cheese. Normally served with light dipping sauce such as ponzu, Yuba is a local delicacy. Also known as “bean curd sheet,” yuba is the thin veil/skin that forms on the surface of freshly heated soymilk. On continuously boiling fresh soy milk, a thin layer of tofu skin quickly forms at the top of the milk. This happens when the milk is left alone for a long time without stirring it. This causes the entire surface to dry up, and then you harvest it. A silicon spatula is used to detach the tofu skin from the side of the pot, and then gently lift it up from the soymilk. The thin, tofu sheets are delicious with a little dashi, or can be used as a wrapping for other ingredients, such as slivered bamboo shoots, shiitake mushrooms and scallions.
Senbei, a type of traditional Japanese rice cracker, comes in various shapes, sizes, and flavours, usually savoury but sometimes sweet. Senbei are often eaten with green tea as a casual snack and offered to visiting houseguests as courtesy refreshment. Senbei are usually cooked by being baked or grilled, traditionally over charcoal. While being prepared they may be brushed with a flavouring sauce, often one made of soy sauce and mirin. They may then be wrapped with a layer of nori. Alternatively they may be flavoured with salt or so-called “salad” flavouring.
Kuromame, which literally translates to “black bean” in Japanese, are beautiful, shiny black soy beans which are often served on New Year’s Day as a part of Osechi Ryori (the traditional New Year’s Meal). Eating kuromame is considered to bring good health the entire New Year. Kuromames have a sweet and slightly savoury flavour that can be quite addicting. Scientifically, kuromame supplies a rich source of protein and is absolutely delicious! The leftover broth from cooking the beans is also believed to be good for sore throats. Simmering black soybeans on very low heat for a very long time makes Kuromame a very healthy munchie.
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