Saturday, November 25, 2006
by Kirsten Hawkins
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 hamburger.
About The Author
Kirsten Hawkins is a food and nutrition expert specializing the Mexican, Chinese, and Italian food. Visit http://www.food-and-nutrition.com/ for more information on cooking delicious and healthy meals.http://www.food-and-nutrition.com/ for more information on cooking delicious and healthy meals.
Food and Nutrition.com
Japanese Home Cooking - Beyond Sushi
by Cynthia Bates
In general, the Japanese people are very healthy and live longer than any other culture in the world. Why is this? Many people attribute it to the way they eat. But if you think that all Japanese people eat is sushi you couldn't be more wrong. Japanese home cooking is simple, healthy, and delicious. While some of the ingredients may seem exotic and intimidating, rest assured that anyone can cook wonderful delicious Japanese meals with ease.
Sushi is the most popular type of Japanese food, enjoyed throughout the world. You may notice that sushi is quite filling, and you typically eat much less than you would a more Western style meal, such as a hamburger. What is it about sushi that makes it so filling and satisfying? The answer could be rice.
Rice is definitely a staple of any Japanese meal. Whether it is served as a side dish or along with a saucier entrée, you're going to need plenty of rice on hand. While white long grain rice is most popular, you can always opt for more healthy brown rice. Either way, you may also want to consider purchasing a rice cooker. Rice cookers can cost anywhere from $30 to hundreds of dollars, depending on the make and quality. If you plan on eating plenty of rice this is worth the investment. You're pretty much guaranteed perfect rice every time.
Have you ever had miso soup at your favorite sushi restaurant? Miso soup is made from several ingredients, one of which is miso paste, made from fermented soybeans. Miso comes as either red or yellow, both having distinct and rich flavors. Not just for soup, you can add miso to just about anything from a veggie stir fry to a marinade for beef. And miso isn't just for Japanese cooking either. Once you experience the delightful flavors of miso you'll be adding it to all your meals!
If you dislike fish, you probably think Japanese cooking isn't for you. While fish is definitely a huge part of the Japanese diet, it doesn't mean that's all they eat. Chicken, beef, and pork are all popular choices, as well as tofu and eggs. Simmering meats in sauces such as teriyaki, in a wok or deep skillet is a favorite. You can serve these dishes over rice or noodles such as soba. This is a tasty and healthy alternative to fried foods that many of us eat so often.
If you're interested in Japanese home cooking there are plenty of great recipes on the Internet that can help guide you through the different types of ingredients and cooking methods. If you're looking for a healthy and flavorful change to your diet, consider trying a few Japanese meals. Before you know it you'll be enjoying a variety of delicious foods that nurture the body and the soul.
About The AuthorCynthia Bates is an Internet specialist, and periodically writes recipe and cooking articles for http://www.bakingnation.com - BakingNation.com is dedicated to proving quality cooking and recipe discussions on the Internet.
Green Tea - A Tea from the Far East by John Gibb
Green tea is a kind of tea that has been very popular in China and Japan for centuries, and has recently seen a massive explosion in popularity in the West. Its rise is linked in many ways to that of the alternative health movement, which sees green tea as having a range of traditional healing properties and abilities to cure diseases. Although these claims have not been proven, there is documentation for belief in them that goes back over a thousand years.
Some green tea is produced outside China and Japan, but it is mostly considered to be cheap imitations of the 'real thing' and not worth paying attention to, with the possible exception of a few Indian teas. Most green tea drinkers still import their tea from the East, considering this to be the best tea, and some green teas have become especially famous, such as Japanese sencha, and the Chinese teas Longjing, Hou Kui, Piluochun, and many more besides. Although most supermarkets still only stock one form of generic 'green tea', which is usually of very poor quality, health food and herbal shops will generally have a whole range of high-quality, albeit expensive, green teas to choose from.
In Japan, green tea is used as part of a 'tea ceremony', a Buddhist tradition where tea is specially prepared and served to the people present. Participating in the ceremony at all requires intimate knowledge of how it works, meaning that few non-Japanese have ever done so. Tea holds an interesting place in Chinese culture, too, with making tea often being used as a means of non-verbal communication to express sentiments like "I'm sorry" or "thank you". The mythos surrounding tea in Eastern cultures allows the Western green tea drinker to feel that they are taking part in something ancient, traditional and mysterious simply by drinking green tea, and to a certain extent they are.
About the Author
John Gibb is the owner of green tea resources, For more information on green tea please check out http://www.green-tea-guidance.info
Green Tea Guidance.info