Japanese food includes Japan’s traditional dishes, which have evolved over centuries of political, economic, and social upheaval. Japan’s traditional cuisine is built on rice, miso soup, and other dishes, with a focus on seasonal ingredients. Fish, pickled vegetables, and vegetables cooked in broth are common side dishes.

Seafood is widely available, and it is frequently grilled, but it is also served raw as sashimi or in sushi. Tempura refers to the deep-frying of seafood and vegetables in a light batter. Noodles, such as soba and udon, are a staple besides rice. Many simmered meals exist in Japan, such as oden (fish in broth) or sukiyaki and nikujaga (beef).

Japanese food has been inspired by Chinese cuisine in the past, but in the current day, it has also been impacted by Western cuisines. Foods like ramen and gyza, as well as spaghetti, curries, and hamburgers, have been adapted to Japanese tastes and ingredients after being influenced by foreign cuisines, particularly Chinese cuisine.

Because of Buddhism, the Japanese have traditionally avoided meat, although since the 1880s, meat-based meals such as tonkatsu and yakiniku have grown popular. The popularity of Japanese food, notably sushi and ramen, has spread over the globe.

Japan surpassed France as the country with the most 3-star Michelin restaurants in 2011, while the capital Tokyo still holds the distinction of a world city with the most 3-star restaurants in 2018. Japanese food was added to the UNESCO Intangible Cultural Heritage List in 2013.

Washoku is a term used to describe traditional Japanese cuisine. The term kapp, which means “cutting and boiling (meats),” has become synonymous with “cooking,” and was widely used in the Meiji and Taish eras to refer to predominantly Japanese cookery or restaurants. It represents a specific level of quality, possibly even the top, a restaurant with the best qualified cooks. However, as compared to kaiseki, kapp is often thought of as a more casual or informal dining venue.

Steamed white rice, or gohan, is the basic food in Japanese food, and it is served with one or more okazu, or “main” or “side” dishes. This can be served with tsukemono and a clear or miso soup (pickles). The term ichij-sansai refers to the components of a typical dinner, although it has origins in traditional kaiseki, honzen, and yshoku cuisine. Nowadays, the phrase is often used to refer to the first dish offered in traditional kaiseki cuisine.

The origins of Japanese “one soup, three sides” cuisine may be traced back to the Five Great Zen Temples of the Kamakura era in the 12th century, where it was formed as a kind of meal that stressed thrift and simplicity.

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History of Japanese Food

Rice is a common ingredient in Japanese food. Rice was the first crop adopted, followed by wheat and soybeans. In today’s Japanese food, all three are staples. Buddhism became the country’s official religion during the conclusion of the Kofun Period and the beginning of the Asuka Period.

As a result, consuming meat and fish was forbidden. Emperor Tenmu forbade the eating of horses, dogs, monkeys, and chicks in 675 AD. Many emperors in the 8th and 9th centuries continued to forbid the slaughter of many animals. The number of controlled meats expanded dramatically, resulting in the prohibition of all animals except whales, which were classified as fish. Chopsticks were brought to Japan during the Asuka era.

Sushi started out as a way to preserve fish by fermenting it in cooked rice. Lactic acid fermentation helps to preserve salted fish that are subsequently placed in rice, preventing the bacteria that cause putrefaction from multiplying. Sushi fermentation was reduced to one to two weeks in the 15th century because of technological advancements. Sushi, which combines fish and rice, became a popular snack and main course. Sushi without fermentation was introduced during the late Edo period (early nineteenth century). Sushi was enjoyed both with and without fermentation until the 19th century.


japanese food, udon
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Udon noodles are thick, chewy, and traditionally produced from wheat flour and brine water. They are one of the three primary noodle kinds consumed in Japan. Udon noodles are often used in noodle soups, where they are served in a savoury soup broth with various garnishes (combined into stir-fries, added to hot pots, served cold with a tsuyu or tentsuyu soup base on the side for dipping). Kitsune udon, tempura udon (covered with tempura battered fish and vegetables), and chikara udon (‘power udon,’ topped with grilled mochi rice cakes) are some of the most popular udon noodle soup dishes.


japanese food, tofu
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Although tofu is primarily considered off as a health food or vegetarian option in Western nations, tofu (especially silken tofu) is appreciated by everybody and is a major element of the traditional diet in Southeast Asian countries such as Japan. Tofu is coagulated soy milk that has been squeezed into blocks. These blocks come in a variety of hardness levels and may be eaten raw, boiled in hot pots, or fried and used as a garnish.


japanese food, tempura
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Tempura is meat, fish, and/or vegetable pieces or slices that have been dipped in a specific tempura batter and deep fried till crisp and pale gold. Small shellfish, such as prawns, or vegetables, such as green beans, pumpkin, daikon mooli radish, and sweet potato, are used to make tempura. Tempura can be eaten on its own (probably with a tiny dish of tsuyu for dipping) or put on top of rice bowls or noodle soups.

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japanese food, Kashipan
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The name ‘kashipan’ literally translates to ‘sweet bread,’ and it refers to a variety of single-serve bread buns that originated in Japan. Melon pan (a bread bun with a cookie dough top), a pan (a bread bun filled with an or anko; a delicious red bean paste), and karee pan (or kare pan) are among the most popular (a bread bun filled with curry sauce, covered in panko breadcrumbs, and deep-fried). Kashipan is a must-try for bread connoisseurs.


japanese food, sukiyaki
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Sukiyaki hot pots are produced by searing beef slices in a hot pot, then adding sukiyaki broth (usually made from soy sauce, sake, mirin rice wine, and sugar), as well as a variety of vegetables, noodles, and proteins. Sukiyaki means “cook what you like,” and the fun of the meal comes from being able to make it with your fellow diners at the table, with any ingredients you like.