With a culinary history as deep and established aswashoku(traditional Japanese cuisine), certain herbs and spices have been used in Japan for thousands of years. And although there might be a larger variety available today, their uses and applications have remained rather constant.
With Japan’s proximity to the sea and lush greenery, the concepts ofumi no sachi(bounty of the sea) andyama no sachi(bounty of the land or mountains)have had a great impact on the way Japanese people view food and cooking. Herbs and spices are often used as a complement to the main flavors of dishes, accentuating the characteristics of the other ingredients rather than changing their innate flavors.
Succulent and juicy shiitake mushrooms are the base for this earthy, savory dashi that is made from rehydrating dried shiitake mushrooms (which can then be used for cooking) in water. This thin, dark brown vegetarian/vegan dashi is rarely used on its own and is typically combined with konbu or katsuo dashi to produce a more robust flavor.
In its basic form, dashi (だし, 出汁) is a broth made by extracting flavors from ingredients by boiling them. Yet unlike typical soup stocks made from a variety of mixed ingredients, dashi relies on only one or two simple ingredients. The beauty of this simplicity, however, is in its ability to enhance and harmonize the flavors of the other ingredients it’s paired with, creating a dish that is more than the sum of its parts.
Awase dashi is the most commonly used dashi in Japan. In fact, when one says dashi this is usually what they’re referring to. Awase means “to combine'' and is typically a combination of konbu and katsuobushi. It includes both glutamic acid and inosinic acid, creating a single dashi that is more than the sum of its parts.
For those who don’t consume fish or meat, finding Japanese vegetarian or vegan options can be challenging. Fortunately, the Buddhist plant-based cuisine known asShōjin Ryōrihas been around for more than seven centuries and is a healthy yet simple ritual that nourishes the body and soul through food.
Okinawa, a tropical island far away from mainland Japan, is often a go-to domestic travel destination to an exotic place. Surrounded by endless aqua blue water, Okinawa has 160 islands, of which only 40 are inhabited. Its year-round warm climate provides a home to indigenous subtropical plants and all living things from the sea to the forests. It is these surroundings that helped create Okinawa’s traditional food culture.
For anyone with allergies shopping for food (especially food with foreign packaging) can be difficult. We provide English translations for all the items we include in our Care Packages, but want to make sure that you are informed as possible as you continue to explore the vast world of Japanese cuisine.
The foundation of modern-day cuisine in Japan was heavily influenced by the customs developed during the Edo Era. A period of economic and social growth, people began eating three meals a day instead of two, while incorporating the holy trinity of Japanese flavor (soy sauce, mirin, and sake). Food stalls were also introduced to feed busy commoners on the go. While some practices diminished over time, many continue to thrive today.
Mushrooms are a well known part of many cuisines. In Japanese cuisine, mushrooms - known askinoko(キノコ) - play an essential role, adding umami and texture to many dishes. Many varieties of mushrooms can be found growing throughout Japan’s mountainous landscape. Here's a quick overview of some popular Japanese mushrooms:
As one can see, the image of tofu being a white block of gelatinous blandness is a result of a lack of exposure to what can be made from it and with it. Even the simplest tofu dish,hiyayakko,a dish consisting of fresh chilled tofu garnished with grated ginger, katsuobushi flakes, scallions, and soy sauce, can be incredible in its subtlety and depth of flavor.
The general process of making tofu is rather simple, probably deceptively so. And it is this simplicity that has led to innovation and experimentation over time, the result of which is an astounding amount of variation in the ways that tofu can be made.
There’s a lot to love about Japanese sake. It’s much more than a drink. It’s a story of Japanese craftsmanship, of human terroir, of a connection to nature, of understanding the past and looking towards the future. Sake is all of these things and more, constantly evolving, finding new ways to bring people together.
Another great aspect of sake, or nihonshu as its referred to in Japan, is how it harmonises with just about any type of food you pair it with. Although it would be easy to assume that it goes best with Japanese food, I’d ask that you resist the temptation and think about unconventional food pairings.
So, join me ask I take you through five sake and food pairings that are unique to my own experiences.
In this article, we’ll be looking at how Japan and the US differ in terms of organic farming and what Japan is doing to try and improve their position in the global initiatives towards larger scale sustainable, environmentally friendly agricultural methods.
While urban migration and falling fertility rates are contributing to the declining agricultural industry in Japan, there are other complicated reasons that make revitalization difficult. These mainly include issues of landownership and the restrictions on farming organizations. Luckily, there seems to be some hope for the industry’s recovery with recent surges in investing and ideas about rural revitalization.
Our ideas about food (the foundation of life) truly shape the ways in which we live. And while there are many diets that take a philosophical or mindful approach to eating, there are few cuisines that embrace this concept as much asshōjin ryōri (精進料理.)
Tsukemono or “pickled things” are a staple in Japanese cuisine. Their bright colors, unique shapes and wide range of flavors are almost often found as a side dish or garnish to any Japanese meal. They serve the purpose of cleansing one’s palate and aiding in digestion.
Like wine, Japanese teas are often paired alongside meals, snacks and sweets to enhance and complement flavors while providing a full taste experience. Out of the myriads of pairings available, here are some tea and food combinations we recommend.
For centuries, Hakone has been a destination for people to relax and enjoy its famousonsens (natural hot springs). Just over an hour away from Tokyo, it’s an easy getaway from the city and has numerous activities to enjoy including hiking, art museums, traditional craft-making and all its delicious local food. Enjoy these sties to see!
For centuries, Hakone has been a destination for people to relax and enjoy its famousonsens (natural hot springs). Just over an hour away from Tokyo, it’s an easy getaway from the city and has numerous activities to enjoy including hiking, art museums, traditional craft-making and all its delicious local food. Enjoy my afternoon food adventure!
For centuries, Hakone has been a destination for people to relax and enjoy its famous onsens (natural hot springs). Just over an hour away from Tokyo, it’s an easy getaway from the city and has numerous activities to enjoy including hiking, art museums, traditional craft-making and all its delicious local food. Enjoy my morning food adventure!
Tea etiquette is vital in Japan: from the intricate details of the traditional tea ceremony to casually serving guests in your home. There are subtle rules, for the server and the guest, that have been passed down through generations and have become ingrained in Japanese tea culture.