5.04.2012

Japanese food (my stomach is grumbling)

I want to thank each of you for your responses with Japan's Golden Week up on the blog. I had another guest poster who lives in Japan right now, however, the post will have to go up at another time. 
My mom asked me if there was anything I wanted her to pick up for me from Japan, I suggested lots of photos and a blog post written by her and my dad. I'm really hope they will for you all!

I want to continue talking about Japan with you all, I hope you don't mind. With any culture, one of the most important things is obviously food. Just like we have regional foods in the United States, there are regional food in Japan too. Even though Japan is an island, each region is different from the next for example the northern most island, Hokkaido, is definitely different from the southern most island, Okinawa.
To give you an understanding of the regions of Japan, here is a map of the various regions.


While writing this, I realized that I will probably barely touch the surface of the food of Japan in this one post so here is to trying.
The Japanese love food and they treat the presentation to you as the eater and presentation on the plate as an artform. 
When you think Japanese food, I'm sure sushi is one of the first items that come to mind. However, don't think the sushi is at all what you get here. Don't expect tiger tail rolls, rainbow rolls or any of those. The closest to roll sushi in Japan you can order would come filled with only one item and these are called maki, maybe chopped tuna or cucumber or nato(fermented soybeans and smells as disgusting as it sounds).
The sushi is obviously the freshest you will ever have. A tip to keep in mind, the fishier fish smells, the longer it has been out of the ocean. So in Japan because it is all fresh, there is no fishy smell. 
The sushi you typically will find is the rice block with the piece of sushi laid on top held together with a little bit of wasabi, the green horseradish paste.

This is sushi in Japan, the portion sizes are definitely smaller than American-sized sushi and the varieties of fish are endless. 
Next in Japan, you might think rice and plenty of it. In Japan, they eat more seafood and tofu, whereas beef, chicken and pork are less prevalent in their dishes. 
What are some of my favorite Japanese food besides sushi?
I love this dish called katsu-don, which is a breaded and fried pork cutlet that is cooked in eggs and onions and then served over a bowl of rice. When I was in college and my parents still lived in Tokyo, whenever I returned because of school breaks, there was this one little restaurant under the train tracks that I would always visit by myself to get my katsu-don kick.
In Japan, whenever you see the word, don, at a restaurant it means 'over rice', and whatever it the main part of the dish will be placed in front of the don so you have katsu-don.
Actually, thinking of all the Japanese dishes, they like breaded and fried pork cutlet a lot. There is the simple meal of tonkatsu-don, which is the breaded pork cutlet, not over rice however although there is a side dish of rice, the pork cutlet does not come out to you served on a bowl of rice.
This is tonkatsu.

Another favorite katsu dish of mine in Japan is called katsu-kare, which is the breaded pork cutlet on a serving of rice with a Japanese curry sauce, yum!

Ok I will get off my breaded pork cutlet kick, back to other popular Japanese dishes. In Japan, you can't forget about noodles from udon which are thick, white noodles to soba which is a thin buckwheat noodle to ramen, which is the best of all the noodle soups in Japan. 
Ramen is a thin, white noodle with a broth soup, the broth is either miso-broth or clear broth base, the boiled noodles are added and then toppings are piled on. Ramen is serious business in Japan. Again, as I first mention there are regional varieties in Japan and this is especially true with ramen. In the northern island of Hokkaido, crab or corn or scallops can be found in the ramen. In the Kanto region, which is where Tokyo is located, the ramen will have a thin piece of pork with some seaweed, maybe a boiled egg.
This is how serious the Japanese are about their ramen, there is a ramen museum near Tokyo and each year during the New Years holiday, a TV show will feature the 100 best ramen shops in all of Japan.
This is your typical looking ramen
In Japan, it is totally polite and acceptable to slurp your ramen noodles and pick up your bowl to drink the broth.
If you go into a ramen shop or any convenient restaurant that isn't McDonalds, you step into the restaurant and the first thing you do is you don't get a seat. You find this ticket booth, pay the money, select what you want for lunch or dinner then you find a seat. You had the chef or another employee your ticket and then when it is ready, they will put your wonderful Japanese food in front of you.
Here is what the ticket booth looks like.
This nice thing is most restaurants will put a photo with the name of the dish written in Japanese, so even if you can't read the name of the dish, you can still know what you selected because of the photos.
There isn't any particular food the Japanese eat during Golden Week except for tomorrow, which is Children's Day, they will eat what is called kashiwamochi, mochi is pounded rice that has become a sticky mess.
Inside the mochi are adzuki beans, a red bean that is mashed up like refried beans and have a sweet quality to them. When the Japanese eat sweets, you will commonly find these adzuki beans. The entire little mochi package is wrapped up in an oak leaf. The reason these mochi sweets are wrapped up in oak leaf is to symbolize that oak leaves do not wither.
So there you go, an introduction into Japan and their food. I hope you were able to learn a little bit more about Japan.
Hope you all have a wonderful weekend!



8 comments:

Jess - PrettyPhysicist said...

I loved reading this. I work for a Japanese company and my boss is Japanese, so learning a little more about the culture is fun for me! His wife is teaching me to make some foods - including sushi. and I'm teaching her how to make American foods.

Meghan @ More from Meg said...

Love this post - I LOVE learning about different cultures! Keep the Japan posts coming - I love them!

Ashley said...

Wow this was so informative!! I think I have learned more about Japan in the past few days than I did when I took Japanese Culture in High School!! I have learned so much and created an even greater appreciation for Japan!! I didn't know that Oak Leaves don't whither!! Crazy.

Also those ticket booths are an interesting way to take orders!! Good thing for the pictures!!

♥ Ashley

atparsons.blogspot.com

Kalie said...

My stomach is rumbling too! There is a chance I might be going to China this fall, hopefully it comes through!

Selma @ Crazy Little World Of Mine said...

Okay, I'm hungry. Oyako donburi is my favorite dish and I just remember I haven't made it in a while...hmmm...second is katsu don. :) Luckily my godfather's wife is Japanese so I get pampered soon with all those yummy foods...

have a good weekend.

Adrienne said...

I learned a lot more about Japan, thank you!

My husband would LOVE this, he is slightly obsessed with Japanese culture and even speaks some Japanese. Very cool! :)

Alyx said...

Whoa! Who knew there were so many regions in Japan!? I had no idea. And all that food would look amazing... if I ate seafood! hahaha
I guess that's to be expected when you're on an island, though!
It would be awesome if your parents did a guest post, how fun!

REBrown said...

Authentic japanese food looks so good!