Japanese cuisines are defined much by their ingredients, although it extensively uses fish and meat in the dishes, Japanese vegetables also plays an important role in the cuisine.
Here are five popular Japanese vegetables that are commonly used in the cuisine:
The famous wasabi sauce is made from the wasabi plant also known as Japanese horseradish and has a pungent flavour. The root however has a sweet, mild and fruity flavour. It is mainly cultivated in Izu peninsula in Shizuoka prefecture, Nagano prefecture and Iwate prefecture. Most of the wasabi sauce that is consumed has a mixture of horseradish, mustard and green food colouring. This is because, wasabi is difficult to cultivate, which makes it expensive.
Mitsuba is a replica of Parsley and is even called Japanese parsley. It has a flavour like celery with small, bright, green leaves which are crisp and clean. The leaves are commonly used in salads and soups as a flavoring. You can also use it as a garnish for sushi or sashimi.
An edible root with long, fibrous roots was used initially as a medicine. It is rich in fiber and is said to aid digestion and reduce cholesterol. Regular consumption is known to prevent diabetes. Gobo has a bitter taste when it’s raw but turns into an earthy flavour when it is cooked. It is served with fish and sake, which enriches the flavour and has a crunchy texture when it is stir-fried.
Shishito Peppers are quite delicious and simpler to prepare, they make for a perfect appetizer. Contrary to its name these peppers are mild and one in ten of them are spicy. They have a mildly bitter-citrus flavour and are served whole, grilled or deep-fried and are also stewed in soy sauce. These small, finger-sized peppers are a common snack in the bars across Japan and are iconic to Izakaya (Japanese tapas/appetizers/bar food).
Kampyo is the dried gourd used commonly in vegetarian sushi. The long, white ribbons which look like strings are cut from gourds and dried. They have a shelf life of about a year and are sold in small plastic bags. Kampyo is often simmered in flavored dashi for futomaki and other types of sushi. It is also used to tie around rolled kombu, for kombu maki, or to close the tops of fried tofu packets filled with vegetables.
Other Japanese vegetables include Komatsuna (mustard spinach), Kyuri (Japanese cucumber), Mizuna, Nasu (Japanese eggplant), Renkon (lotus root), Sato-imo (taro), Satsuma-imo (Japanese sweet potato) and Takenoko (bamboo shoot), which are rich in nutrition and are served with noodles or rice.
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