Typical Japanese Food
Noodles are to Japan what hamburgers are to America and pork pies and pasties are to England. (And of course, what pasta is to Italy). Available everywhere and very popular for lunch with busy workers, the Japanese can eat them icy cold with a dipping sauce as well as hot with an assortment of
vegetables, meats, fish and eggs. Noodles must be eaten quickly before the hot broth makes them too soft.
Two main types of noodle are available. Soba is made from
buckwheat flour and is slightly brown in colour. Udon is a thick white type of noodle and is made from white flour.
The Japanese have never been great meat eaters
until the turn of this century. A typical meal
would probably consist of rice with vegetables
or fish. Red meat is now consumed more readily
but in those days fish and soya beans were
perhaps the only form of protein consumed. Fish
still predominates in the Japanese diet
Most people will have
probably heard of sushi. This is not for the
light-hearted as this dish consists of raw fish
which has been laid onto vinegered rice which
has been pressed into bite-sized cakes.
range of sushi available is large as it comes in
all different shapes and sizes and toppings. Sushi
bars or take-aways are abundant in Japan where
it is served with liberal amounts of beer or sake.
Those which cater for tourists often have plastic
replicas of the different types of sushi from
which you can make your choice.
Sashimi, also raw fish, comes in the form of thin slices and is eaten with a dip of horseradish-flavoured soy sauce.
Brought to Japan by the Portuguese, tempura is
yet another famous delicacy, best eaten at a
tempura bar. It is a deep fried fritter. Prawn or
shrimp tempura is the most common but other
types are made from squid, pepper, sweet potato,
lotus root and onion. Only the freshest fish and
vegetables are used. A special sauce ten-tsuyu is
used as a dip.
Often eaten with sake in a bar is yakitori. This is
similar to a shish kebab and is generally made from chicken and grilled on bamboo skewers over charcoal. As the meat is grilled, it is dipped into a sweetened soy-based source to give it a very Japanese flavour.
A dish which is cooked at the table will create a
cosy, friendly atmosphere. Shabu Shabu is a
typical example of such a dish and is
particularly suitable for a large gathering. At
the centre of the table is a large pot of
simmering stock. The guests are invited to dip
slices of beef and vegetable in the stock to cook
them. The cooked food is then dipped into a
choice of sauces. When all the meat and
vegetables have been cooked, the enriched stock
is served as soup. Sukiyaki is very similar to
shabu shabu in that it is another dish cooked at