Japanese foods

Japan is famous for a lot of things; its turbulent history, its animation and games industry, unique culture and lifestyles, and so much more. It is a country that defies classification, one that exists in a state of simultaneous deeply rooted traditions on one side, and ultra-high tech innovations and disregard for conventions on the other. You can spend your entire life a Japanese without fully understanding its many contradictions.

Still, there are things about it that are universal which every human being, regardless of where they are from, can understand and appreciate. Food is one such area, and like everything else Japanese, their cuisine is original, full of flavor, and something you can’t encounter anywhere else.

  1. Sushi

The food most closely associated with Japan, and also its most popular. It is a dish that has evolved over the centuries, originally starting as a way to conserve fish for months. The type of sushi we know today started taking shape in the Edo Period (1603-1868).

Special rice is the basis of sushi and by far, its most important ingredient. Other usual ingredients include Nori (a type of seaweed), Gu (the sushi’s filling, usually fish). Soy sauce and wasabi (Japanese horseradish paste) are common condiments.

  1. Sashimi

A sort of precursor to sushi, sashimi is thinly sliced raw meat, most often fish, but also chicken, beef, horse, and other meats. It is usually the first course served in a formal meal, since Japanese chefs consider it the best dish in Japanese national cuisine. It has a long and famous history, dating from the Muromachi period (1336-1573), and, like sushi, it is usually served alongside soy sauce, wasabi, fresh ginger, garlic, and ponzu (a citrus-based sauce).

  1. Miso Soup

A deceptively simple, yet delicious and nourishing dish, miso soup is a common staple of Japanese meals. Made from dashi stock (from dried sardines or dried kelp) and miso paste (from soybeans), into which – depending on taste preferences, available ingredients, and other factors – you can add pretty much any other ingredient. Vegetarian and seafood-based miso soups are the most common, and it is exceedingly healthy – low in calories, but rich in protein.

  1. Udon

A thick noodle made from wheat flour, udon is an incredibly versatile food. It can be eaten hot or cold, and with any topping. There are many varieties of the udon noodles, but the three most famous types are sanuki udon (from Kagawa prefecture, southwest Japan), kishimen (Nagoya, central Japan), and Naniwa udon (Akita, northern Japan).

  1. Ramen

Best known as Naruto’s favorite meal, ramen is a type of wheat noodle dish that is served in a meat-based broth, further flavored with miso and soy, and topped off with pork, seaweed, scallions, and other ingredients. Almost every region in Japan has its own variation of ramen, but Kyushu’s tonkotsu (pork bone broth) and Hokkaido’s miso ramen are probably the most well-known.

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