Next time you visit Japan, include some of the following dishes on your bucket list.
Japanese cuisine is world-famous but if you’ve never tried it before, the experience and choice can be overwhelming. There is so much food to try besides sushi, but where to start?
Next time you visit Japan, include some of the following dishes on your bucket list. Decide which are your favorite and when you get home you can shop at a Japanese online store and recreate those dishes at home.
Ginger Pork (Buta-No-Shogayaki)
This is one of the most common and tasty Japanese dishes that you’ll find in many restaurants, izakaya, fast food chains, and even as a bento box found in many convenience and grocery stores.
Yaki is the Japanese word for grilled. Chefs prepare the dish by grilling thin slices of pork and dressing them with a delicate sauce of mirin, soy sauce, sake, and granola oil mixed with sliced onions, and ginger.
At first glance, this dish looks very similar to ramen, but it’s quite different and unique. If you want to try something traditional, this is one dish not to miss.
Champon originates from Nagasaki where it first appeared in a Chinese restaurant during the Meiji era. What makes it different from ramen is that the noodles are made specifically for the dish and boiled in the soup rather than being added later.
The ingredients traditionally used in Champon vary, depending on the season. Typically, you can expect pork, seafood, vegetables, or a combination of them all. The ingredients are fried in lard. After which, a soup of chicken and pig bones is later added.
This is not strictly a dish but they are widely popular in Japan. Edamame are not yet mature soybeans and are typically eaten in their pods. You’ll find them served hot or cold, sometimes grilled rather than boiled. Usually, they are dressed with salt and they make an amazing appetizer.
If you’re looking for an amazing culinary experience, fugu is the dish to try. Fugu is a delicious pufferfish. However, it can also be lethal due to a toxin in some parts of its body.
Fugu is usually served as sashimi or in certain kinds of Japanese nabe hot pots. Because of its characteristics, fugu preparation is rigidly controlled by the Japanese government. Chefs who want to prepare this fish must undergo at least three years of rigorous training to get their license.
Gyoza are dumplings shaped like a half-moon. This is another dish that you’ll find in almost every Japanese restaurant. They are Chinese in origin but the versions you’ll discover in Japan are quite distinct from the original.
Gyoza comes in several varieties in Japan. One of the most popular is “yaki-gyoza”. These dumplings are prepared with a filling of minced pork meat, cabbage, garlic, onion, and ginger. They are lightly fried until they become crunchy and have a nice dark-gold color. You can then dip them in a sauce made with rice vinegar, soy sauce, and spicy oil.
This mouth-watering dish is a meal of beef over rice, served in one dish. It’s a quick dish to prepare and you’ll find it served in Japanese fast-food chains such as Yoshinoya as well as specific restaurants.
The dish combines a bowl of steamed rice topped with thinly sliced beef and tender onion, simmered in dashi broth. It is seasoned with mirin and soy sauce. Sometimes, it’s topped with a lightly cooked egg.
Gyukatsu (beef cutlet)
This is the beef version of another popular pork-based tonkatsu. The dish contains deep-fried breaded beef, typically served with cabbage, barley rice, miso soup, potato salad, and pickles.
Gyutan means cow tongue and that’s what you get if you choose this dish. Grilled beef tongue is served with salt or different sauces and scallion. The meat is thin, tender, and tasty.
Karaage is Japan’s fried chicken dish and as soon as you set foot in Japan you’ll find it. The pieces of chicken, sometimes pork, are lightly coated with wheat flour or potato starch and deep-fried in oil. Occasionally, the ingredients are marinated beforehand. This dish is usually served with a slice of lemon on the side.
Katsudon is another popular Japanese food and it’s similar to gyudon, but prepared with pork. It’s the perfect dish if you’re on the go and you’ll be able to enjoy it in all Japanese-style fast-food chains and specific restaurants.
The dish is served in a bowl with rice on the bottom and a topping of deep-fried pork cutlet, egg, vegetables, and condiments.
You might also find this dish called kushiage. It is crunchy, deep-fried skewered meat, fish, or vegetables. Kushi refers to the skewers used and katsu means the deep frying of a meat cutlet.
There are various versions, but the more exciting ones are prepared with lotus root, bamboo shoots, cartilage, and gizzard.
Now you’ve got a good selection of dishes to try you shouldn’t feel quite so overwhelmed. There’s also much more to Japanese cuisine for you to discover.
Photo by Jakub Dziubak on Unsplash