The tastiest way to discover insight into Japanese culture is to immerse in traditional Japanese meals. So then, why are you resisting trying their authentic foods?
Many people living off oily meals and heavy burgers say Japanese food is bland and tasteless. So they avoid Japanese restaurants in favor of fast-food franchises whenever visiting Japan. But isn’t it regrettable to skip the country’s culture’s beating core to avoid stepping out of your comfort zone?
There are many reasons why traditional Japanese food is something you must experience if you ever find yourself in Japan.
Why Should You Try Traditional Japanese Meals?
Japanese cuisine is considered healthy except for deep-fried food, or so call 唐揚げ (karaage). The typical staples of traditional Japanese food are a steamed rice bowl, cooked fish, pickled vegetables, miso soup, and hot green tea, all of which contribute to a healthy balance of nutrients.
Typically, these will be arranged on a big serving tray to fill your tummy in the traditional Japanese diet pattern.
Freshness And Simpler Cooking Style
Japanese food is unique not only because it is well-balanced and deliciously arranged but also because of how it is cooked. Similar to how the characters in Netflix’s “The Makanai: Cooking for the Maiko House” describe Kiyo’s cooking: “original but awesome.”
The phrase well explains the concept of the Japanese cooking method. Japanese people appreciate letting fresh ingredients shine without heavy seasonings. As a result, Japanese food is typically light on the seasoning but full of taste.
Also, traditional Japanese sweets, like those made with sweet red bean paste, typically use a combination of ingredients that already have sweetness rather than adding extra instant sugar. In addition, the simplicity of Japanese making desserts also is tied to their emphasis on fresh ingredients.
Is there now a spark in your appetite for traditional Japanese dishes?
Alright, it’s time to dig into a list of the 6 best traditional Japanese foods and learn more about the country!
What Is The Most Traditional Japanese Dish?
Can you guess the most traditional Japanese dish that dates back over 1,000 years?
Rice Balls – おにぎり (Ongiri)
Yes, Onigiri is the absolute most iconic Japanese food ever! Back in the Heian period, the courtiers of Ishikawa prefecture were served a special dish called “Ton-jiki,” which is the old name for Onigiri.
This meal is such a bomb! It’s like a little party in your mouth; well-cooked rice filled with healthy ingredients like pickled plum, fish, and boiled egg, all wrapped up with the crunch of seaweed!
The best part is that you can grab this easy-to-find Japanese comfort food at your near t convenience store.
Japanese Food From Edo Period (1611 – 1867 AD)
Many eateries in Japan have been in business for more than a century. Therefore, it should be no surprise that Japanese people have been consuming traditional foods since long before the Edo period.
On the other hand, Edo (江戸), the old name for Tokyo, became known as the period when traditional Japanese cooking was established and the beginning of Japanese food culture. Moreover, you can find them in convenience stores or corner shops.
Will you join us in trying some traditional Japanese dishes from the Edo period? Let’s go!
1. Soba Noodles – そば (Soba)
If you’re a fan of savory ramen, is there still room in your tummy to get something healthier?
Soba noodles are basically buckwheat noodles, so they’re delicious and nutritious! This flavor-packed dish can be served hot with a rich soy sauce and bonito flake broth topped with green onions and sometimes kamaboko (fish cakes). You can enjoy it cold with a flavorsome dipping sauce too!
Back then, it was temple food only available to the elite. That was until the Great fire of the Meireki era in 1657 was destroyed in the Edo period. Suddenly, Soba noodles were widespread to everyone.
This traditional Japanese dish is sure to make your taste buds go wild!
2. Kabayaki – 蒲焼
Have you heard about those expensive unagi dishes? Yeah, it’s Kabayaki.
The people of Urawa, a post-station town during the Edo period, are credited with kickstarting the Kabayaki trend by serving it to travelers. This ultimate dish is made for unagi eel lovers!
The cooking method is butterflying the fish, slicing it into square fillets, skewering it, and soaking it in a sweetened soy sauce mixed marinade. Then it’s cooked to perfection on a grill or griddle, yummy!
3. Edo-Style Sushi – 江戸前寿司 (Edo-Mae Sushi)
It’s almost the end of the Edo period, and sushi makers are getting creative by fermenting the ingredients, layering cooked white rice with some rice vinegar, and then topping it on with raw fish! After two hours of being lovingly compressed in a small wooden box, the layers finally come out and are sliced into gorgeous, shareable servings!
Japanese Food In Modern Japan Period (1867 – Present)
Japan has come a long way from the Meiji (明治) to the Reiwa (令和) era! So, it’s no secret that Japan has some of the most delicious dishes around. Many typical Japanese meals have become popular in the country and beyond during this period.
Adapting to Japanese tastes is relatively easy. Check out these easy-to-try, must-have dishes! As a beginner, you won’t want to miss out on these fantastic and popular meals!
Red Meat – 赤肉 (Aka Niku)
Are you familiar with Tongkatsu (豚カツ), that excellent deep-fried pork cutlet? This traditional Japanese meal is a fan-favorite among locals and tourists alike, but do you know it was popularized in the modern period?
During the Tenmu era (675 AD), there was the first legal prohibition of eating meat. However, when Japan chose to open up to the world, western cuisine was brought in, and the tradition of the west of eating meat started to become popular in Japan.
Then, head to the spot to experience some of the most delicious Tonkatsu (豚カツ) and Hamburger steak (ハンバーグ, hambagu) in a flavorful sauce you can enjoy today!
Japanese Hot Pot Dish – しゃぶしゃぶ (Shabu-Shabu)
Shabu-shabu, invented in Japan and trademarked in 1952 by the restaurant “Suehiro” in Osaka, is a must-try food if you’re ever in Japan! Shabu-shabu was trending in the Kansai region. Later, it made its way to Tokyo and has spread across Japan ever since.
The most delicious Shabu-Shabu is a hot pot dish made with thinly sliced meats and veggies, cooked piece by piece in boiling traditional Japanese soup and served with delicious dipping sauces or beaten egg, making it super savory!
So, Which Traditional Japanese Dishes Do You Want To Try?
You can try the most modern if you need more time to jump out of your comfort zone to the most traditional Japanese cuisine, such as noodle dishes like soba.
If you need an extra push to learn Japanese, nothing could be more inspiring than trying popular Japanese dishes! It will have you feeling inspired to get immersed in the culture!
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