Introduction to Japanese Food
The people of Japan enjoy a long, healthy life. So much so, that according to research, Japan has the longest lifespan of any country in the world. The Japanese diet has been shown to play a big role in this long, healthy life.
There is a lot more to Japanese cooking than sushi. Many Japanese dishes are noted for having an umami (say it oo-MA-mee) flavor. Umami is a savory taste with meaty flavors. Shitake mushrooms and soy sauce provide umami taste and are common ingredients in Japanese dishes.
Japan is an island surrounded by ocean waters that provide a steady supply of seafood. For this reason, fish and sea plants are plentiful in the Japanese diet. Japanese people do eat chicken and red meat too.
Along with fish, common foods in Japanese meals include:
- Brown and White Rice
- Soba and Udon Noodles
- Soy Beans - edamame and Tofu
- Nori (Dried seaweed sheets used for wrapping sushi)
Herbs and Spices in Japanese Cooking:
Japanese dishes are enhanced using pickled and fresh ginger, soy sauce, wasabi paste, miso, rice vinegar, mirin (rice wine), chili oil and mustard. Dashi, a soup stock made from shitake mushrooms or edible sea kelp, gives many dishes a distinctive flavor. Dashi powder is often available in the Asian section of your grocery store.
If you are lucky to have Japanese Market in your area, stop in for a visit. Japanese products have colorful packaging and interesting shapes. All imported food products must have English ingredients label. So while you may not be able to read the front of the package, the ingredients (and often cooking instructions) will help you discover what's inside.
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