Japanese Cuisine & Dishes to try in Japan
Japan has such a rich cuisine with many unique dishes. This is the second part of our journey to introduce at least 100 dishes from Japan.
#35 Yatsuhashi is one of the famous sweets of Kyoto. They consist of a triangularly shaped wrap of glutinous rice flour and are filled with sweet red bean paste. Cinnamon is the classic flavor of Yatsuhashi, but nowadays they also are popular with other flavors such as green tea, chestnut, white bean paste, etc. Yatsuhashi is popular amongst many foreigners.
#36 Shiokara is one of the famous dishes known to be difficult to enjoy for most foreigners. The classic version is made of squid bowels that are fermented in salt and malted rice for a month. The flavor is very salty and often very fishy. Shiokara is served in small qualities as an appetizer. There are many variations of shiokara made from different marine animals.
#37 Karage describes food deep fried in oil. The most popular karate is made with chicken meat and usually very juicy, but it also sometimes is made using fish, crab or vegetables. Every restaurant or family has their own way of marinating and seasoning Karaga. Karage often is served with daikon oroshi (grated radish).
#38 Nikuman are a kind of Japanese dumplings mostly filled with meat. Some places are specialized on this only and they offer a wide variety of dumplings filled with pork, beef, pumpkin, sweet bean paste and many more. They are more popular in winter as a kind of hot street food that warms you up.
#39 Kamaboko is a Japanese fish cake which is eaten throughout the entire year but very popular for new year. It is eaten alone with soy sauce and a special kind of pickled wasabi. Single slices of Kamaboko are also often found in ramen and soups.
#40 Tamagoyaki is Japanese rolled omelet. Several layers of cooked egg are rolled together using a special rectangular pan. Tamagoyaki can be enjoyed in Sushi restaurants and often also is part of a Japanese style breakfast or lunch box. Some Japanese say that one can distinguish the quality of a cook from the flavor of his Tamagoyaki.
#41 Funazushi Have you ever thought about eating 2 years old sushi? Funazushi basically is a kind of sushi fermented under special conditions for up to 4 years. It is a typical dish from Lake Biwa and consumed in thin slices. It is something for advanced connoisseur of Japanese cuisine and makes a wonderful combination to a dry sake.
#42 Teppanyaki literally means grilling on a steel plate. Meat, fish and vegetables are cooked on a griddle in front of the customer and also cut into small pieces so that they can be enjoyed with chopsticks. Teppenyaki also became popular abroad and also is famous the Japanese beef which is more fat and sweet than western beef and therefore perfectly fits to the cooking style.
#43 Ginnan Did you know that Ginkgo nuts can be eaten? These nuts – called Ginnan – are popular in autumn and they have a slightly bitter taste. They also are popular grilled on a stick as Yakitori, but also are served a little appetizers in Japanese menus.
#44 Wagashi is Japanese traditional confectionary. A lot of care is taken not only for the flavor but also for the appearance. The main ingredients are sweet Azuki bean paste, Wasambonto sugar and a kind of gelatin made of seaweed. They are made of fresh and natural ingredients and therefore have to be consumed quickly.
#45 Amakuri are chestnuts roasted with starch syrup. They are popular in winter and you will sometimes find small stands roasting and selling them. Amakuri is available as a sweet snack in supermarkets throughout the entire year but there also still are a few small shops that focus on home made Amakuri.
#46 Amezaiku is a candy craft artistry. When the candy is still warm the Amezaiku artists will shape it into multiple forms such as animals. The do this with incredible speed using their hands and scissors. The candy can have different colors and it sometimes get painted with edible colors to further improve the appearance of the finished Amezaiku.
#47 Senbei Rice Crackers are very popular snacks and come in various shapes. They can be sweet, salty or hot. There are hundreds of different types and brands with industrial products as well as home made senbei at small little shops. Senbei is made of rice flour and traditionally are roasted on charcoal and brushed with soy sauce.
#48 Himono is a very popular dish for Japanese style breakfast. Shellfish or fish are dried using different methods (air dried, marinated with salt or cooked and dried) for preservation. Before serving Himono it is grilled. Almost every town close to the coast sells varieties of Himono from fishes typical for their region.
#49 Shirasu are little white fish made of a sardines in their infancy. Shirasu is mainly caught in Shizuoka prefecture. Fresh Shirasu is served as Sushi or as is with Ponzu sauce as an appetizer. At also can be dried and used for cooking or to add flavor to white rice.
#50 Shirako is milt or to be more explicit, the male genitalia of fish filled with sperm. It is a delicacy served raw with ponzu sauce and a spicy variation of grated radish. The flavor is very creamy and it is a popular appetizer in Sushi and Izakaya restaurants as it goes well with a little bit of Sake.
#51 Katsuobushi is integral part of Japanese cuisine. It is dried, fermented and smoked bonito fish. It is the base for dashi soup which is used in many other Japanese dishes. Nowadays most katsuoboshi is sold on flakes in plastic pacs but this is not comparable to the flavor of freshly shaved flakes from an Katsuobushi block.
#52 Green Tea Ice nowadays also is available in many other countries. But nowhere in the world will you find it as a branded products with various levels of bitterness. You should try green tea ice from Haagen Dazs which is one of the most popular brands in Japan.
#53 Misokatsu is a variation of Tonkatsu typical for the Nagoya area. It is flavored with dark Miso paste called Hachomisu. Hachomiso adds a sweet and bitter flavor at the same time and is a perfect match to the pork. Misokatsu often is served as a small snack on a stick but also can be served as a full course with cabbage.
#54 Rice Burger is a great representative of eat meets west concepts. Instead of bread this burger uses grilled rice pads to hold it. Also the inside of rice burgers often follows Japanese style with grilled Yakiniku meat or Teriyaki chicken. In any case it is a yummy variation worth trying.
#55 Mentaiko is fish marinated roe of pollock fish. It is very popular as Karashi Mentaiko with spicy red seasoning. Mentaiko is a very nice combination with white rice or in Onigiri rice balls but it nowadays also become very popular with cream sauce as Mentaiko spaghetti.
#56 Ochazuke is a simple rice dish often served at the end of a Japanese meal. Green tea, dash soup or hot water is poured over cooked white rice and savory toppings such as pickles, pieces of grilled fish. It is very popular in Izakaya style restaurants finish the meal after drinking alcohol.
#57 Wakame is a kind of seaweed often served in soups or as a salad. Wakame has a subtle sweet flavor and a slippery texture. It is almost always part of Miso soup and sometimes is served in dishes like a vegetable. It is said to be very healthy and help burning fatty tissue.
#58 Nori are thin dried Japanese seaweed sheets. They are used to make Sushi, Onigiri rice balls and a popular topping on rice and yes – spaghetti. Small Nori sheets are often served with Japanese breakfast and dipped into soy sauce before eating it with white rice. Most commonly Nori sheets are enjoyed dried and crispy but they also are part of the topping of Ramen noodle soup.
#59 Japanese Style Breakfast is served in any Japanese style Ryokan hotel. It typically consists of some grilled fish, Miso soup, pickled vegetables and white rice or Okayu rice congee. Green tea or Hojicha tea are usually served with Japanese breakfast. It it very healthy and although it has quite some volume it does not give a sensation of being full.
#60 Kakigori is very popular in summer and available on almost any summer festival. It is shredded ice with a shot of syrup to give it some flavor. Popular flavors are melon, strawberry, green tea and condensed milk. Cafes often offer rich versions adding sweet red Azuki beans and Shiratama dumplings.
#61 Sakura Flavor (cherry flowers) becomes very popular in spring around the time of the cherry blossom. Pickled cherry flowers can be added to pastry, soups are enjoyed as tea. Cherry tree leaves who also have a strong own flavor are also used to wrap food to add this very unique flavor.
#62 Gyoza is a dumpling which originates from China. Its most popular version is filled with minced pork, cabbage, garlic and nira and is fried in a pan (Yakigyoza) or boiled in hot water (suigyoza). Yakigyoza is a popular side dish in almost every Ramen restaurant.
#63 Oden is a typical Japanese winter dish. Ingredients such as adds, radish, fish or meat balls are slowly simmered in a soy sauce flavored fish soup and eaten with a little bit of mustard and rice. It is fun to eat with a group of people in one of the few Oden restaurants when you can enjoy a large variety of Oden.
#64 Chawan Mushi is an egg curd served together with a Japanese main dish. Its appearance might suggest a sweet flavor and many foreigners get surprised when finding out that there is meat, fish and vegetables inside. The egg has a very mild flavor with a slight tone of fish soup and the other ingredients with stronger flavors add some accent to this dish.
#65 Konnyaku is a hard jelly made of vegetarian gelatin. It has almost no own taste but is part of dishes like Oden or served on its own with miso or some other sauce. Japanese appreciate it for its texture. Konnyaku is very popular for diet since it has close to zero calories.
#66 Inarizushi is sushi rice in a pouch made of fried tofu. It is a kind of juicy, has a sweet flavor and is mostly eaten as a snack or as part of a bento lunch box. Inarizushi is usually not available in sushi restaurants but in super markets or shops selling lunch boxes.
#67 Shojinryori is a vegetarian cuisine that initially was for followers of Buddhism who wanted to avoid killing living things such as animals but also plants with roots. It therefore mainly consists of beans and fruits. Although the ingredients sound boring Shojinryori surprises with a broad variety of flavors and shapes and does not give the feeling of missing something.