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      Japanese Cuisine Article
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Japanese Cuisine

by Kirsten Hawkins

Copyright 2005

Tempura, sukiyaki, sashimi, sushi – even the words used to

describe the most basic of Japanese dishes are exotic and

beautiful. Japanese cuisine is easily one of the healthiest in

the world, with its concentration on fresh fish, seafood, rice

and vegetables. The pungent sauces and delicate flavors of

fresh foods complement each other beautifully, and the methods

of presentation turn even simple meals into beautiful events.

The Japanese have easily a dozen different names for rice,

depending on how it is prepared and what it is served with. The

most common meal is a rice bowl, a bowl of white rice served

with various toppings or ingredients mixed in. So popular is it

that the Rice Bowl has even made its way into the world of

Western convenience foods alongside ramen noodles. Domburi is a

bowl of rice topped with another food: domburi tendon, for

instance, is rice topped with tempura and domburi gyudon is

rice topped with beef. The Japanese adopted fried rice from the

Chinese, and a century ago, when curry was first introduced,

developed Kare Raisu, curry rice. It is now such a popular dish

that there are many fast-food restaurants that serve several

versions of it in take-away bowls.

Besides white rice served as a side dish, Japanese cuisine also

features onigiri – rice balls wrapped in seaweed, often with a

‘surprise’ in the middle, and kayu, a thin gruel made of rice

that resembles oatmeal.

As an island nation, it’s not surprising that seafood is

featured in Japanese cuisine. Sushi and sashimi both are raw

fish and seafood with various spices. Impeccably fresh fish is

the secret to wonderful sashimi and sushi, served with wasabi

and soya sauce. The Japanese love of beauty and simplicity

turns slices and chunks of raw fish into miniature works of

art. Fish sliced so thin that it’s transparent may be arranged

on a platter in a delicate fan that alternates pink-fleshed

salmon with paler slices of fish. Sushi is typically arranged

to best display the colors and textures to their best

advantage, turning the platter and plate into palettes for the

artistry of the chef.

Traditionally, meat plays a minor role in the Japanese diet,

though it has been taking a larger and larger role over the

past fifty years as Japan becomes more westernized. Beef,

chicken and pork may be served with several meals a week now.

One of the more popular meat dishes is ‘yakitori’ – chicken

grilled on a skewer and served with sauce. A typical quick

lunch might include a skewer of yakitori and a rice bowl with

sushi sauce.

In an interesting twist, Japan has imported dishes from other

cuisines and ‘Japanized’ them, adopting them as part of their

own cuisines. Korokke, for instance, are croquettes adopted

from those introduced by the English last century. In Japan,

the most common filling is a mixture of mashed potatoes and

minced meat. Other Soshoyu – western dishes that have made

their way into Japanese everyday cuisine include ‘omuraisu’, a

rice omelet, and hambagau, the Japanized version of an American


About The Author: Kirsten Hawkins is a food and nutrition

expert specializing the Mexican, Chinese, and Italian food.

Visit for more information

on cooking delicious and healthy meals.

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