Which Japanese foods are world famous

Food trade newspaper on the Internet
Print preview21.03.2014
Japanese cuisine is now a Unesco World Heritage Site
Japanese food is trendy with us, healthy, low-fat, exotic, attractive and versatile. The foodaktuell media report in several parts: Part 1: Sushi, rice, soups and spices.

The world famous Fuji volcano, the sacred mountain of Japan, there called Fuji-san and in this country incorrectly called Fujiyama. At 3776 meters, it is the tallest mountain in Japan and, on clear winter days, can even be seen from Tokyo, 100 km away. The last eruption was in 1707.

«Washoku», Japanese cuisine, was recently declared an intangible cultural heritage by Unesco. This makes it the second national cuisine to receive this award after French cuisine. At the same time, the Turkish coffee culture was given the Unesco seal of approval. Washoku is about more than cooking recipes. It's about food culture.

Traditional rituals and knowledge, joint preparation and eating of balanced dishes made from seasonal and regional products make the traditional Japanese way of life so contemporary again today.

Japanese cuisine is not only tasty, light and healthy. Washoku is characterized above all by the gentle preparation of simple ingredients. It was chosen because Washoku reflects the Japanese desire for harmony with nature, in which all ingredients should be as natural, regional and seasonal as possible.

The transmission of technical kitchen skills, ceremonies for parties and occasions, the preparation and presentation of dishes are an important contribution to strengthening family cohesion within the Japanese population.

Whether miso soup, sushi or shabu-shabu, little meat but a lot of rice, fish, vegetables, wild fruits and herbs are part of the regular ingredients of Japanese cuisine. The seasoning plays a very important role, such as: B. with dashi (fish stock), miso (soy bean paste) and soy sauce.

The inclusion in the list of national kitchens worthy of protection raises the Japanese food culture to a culinary pedestal. Image: Udon pasta in a Swiss Wagamama restaurant under the Japanese license of the SV Group.

Sushi: almost too nice to eat

Sushi is a real boom product in Switzerland and is sold prepackaged as a finished product in supermarkets. Japanese restaurants open their doors in many places, such as Yooji’s on Zurich's Bahnhofstrasse in a prime location (where the Kauffmann butcher shop used to be), and several sushi caterers offer party services.

Sushi consists of cold, soured sticky rice, supplemented with other ingredients such as raw or smoked fish, raw seafood, nori (dried and roasted seaweed), vegetables, tofu and eggs.

Sushi is finger food. It is served in bite-sized pieces and traditionally eaten by hand. Sushi is not bitten off, but put into the mouth in one piece. In western countries, on the other hand, it has become common to eat sushi with chopsticks. This makes it necessary for a sushi chef to roll the individual rolls much more tightly.

Sushi is one of the most visually attractive finger food products. For the preparation of sushi, rice of the subspecies Japonica, which has good adhesive properties, is usually used.

In sushi restaurants in the upper price range, the sushi chef is already seasoning the individual sushi in such a way that the customer no longer has to season it with wasabi. The guest drizzles the soy sauce over the nigiri sushi either individually or dips the fish side into the sauce - but never the rice side.

A sushi meal usually consists of different types of sushi. Although there are no rules on the order of consumption, it is common to start with an omelette as a topping, followed by low-fat fish with white meat and acidified fish such as herring and mackerel. Then come red-fleshed fish like low-fat tuna; the fatter species, including the tuna, deny the end of the meal.

A sushi classic is tuna, although yellowfin tuna from the Pacific or Indian Ocean is mostly used in Germany. The bluefin tuna is on the red list of threatened species and does not belong in sushi.

Invented for conservation

Sushi has its origins in a preservation method for freshwater fish that was developed by the inhabitants along the Southeast Asian Mekong River. The gutted and cleaned fish was placed in boiled rice in vessels and fermented. The rice, which had become sour as a result, was thrown away before the fish was eaten. The fish so pickled, however, could be kept for up to a year.

In contrast to sushi, with sashimi (picture) the fish is not served on rice. Fillet pieces are used almost exclusively for sashimi. The way the fish is cut is also different from sushi.

Sushi rice has to stick

Sushi is based on a special round grain rice, which is flavored with a mixture of rice vinegar, salt and sugar after cooking and then cooled. For nigiri sushi, moisten your hands with vinegar water and shape a portion of the sticky rice into a rectangle. The rice canapes are topped with raw fish or prawns and sparingly seasoned with wasabi (paste made from green horseradish). Pickled ginger, the so-called gari, is eaten between the individual sushi to neutralize the taste of the different fish.

Sushi cuts are efficiently formed with a wooden box

For the preparation of maki sushi you need dried seaweed leaves, also called nori. These are placed on a bamboo mat, coated with a layer of rice, filled and rolled up. Tuna and salmon, smoked trout, surimi, shrimp, but also cucumber and carrot strips, mango and avocado are suitable for the filling. The finished bites are traditionally dipped in soy sauce. Before enjoying a new variety, the fish taste can be neutralized with pickled ginger strips.

You can make sushi yourself if you take a class. A Japanese sushi professional learns this art for three full years. But after a short training session, a cook is able to cook the special rice properly, to shape it and to top it with thawed sushi toppings. Delico AG in Gossau offers day courses together with the Swiss Cooking Association.

Differences from Chinese cuisine

The staple food in Japanese cuisine is rice, which is the basis of almost every meal. Because Japan is an archipelago, fish and seafood play an important role in the diet. It was only during the occupation by the Americans after World War II that bread was introduced as a new western food.

Japanese cuisine bears some resemblance to the cuisine of other East Asian countries; the most significant difference is probably the much more economical use of oil and spices. Rather, the natural taste of the fresh products should be preserved as clearly as possible. The foods used in Japanese cuisine and the way they are prepared are often viewed as additional reasons for the strikingly high life expectancy of the Japanese population.

Rice for breakfast

The Japanese eat three to five meals a day of rice, even for breakfast. It has been grown in Japan for 2000 years, and the short-grain form has always been preferred. It is a highly prestigious food and has national symbol status. Imported rice is considered to be inferior to domestic rice. Today, rice is the most important staple food for the entire population, but it used to be supplemented by millet and sweet potatoes and was a feast for the simple rural population.

Sticky rice can be eaten with chopsticks - grainy dry rice would be difficult to handle this way

The basis of a full meal today is always rice. Smaller dishes are also served, for example grilled fish or fried pork. Fish and seafood are very common in Japan, with fresh fish preferred raw.

Soups and leavened vegetables

Most soups mainly consist of three basic ingredients, dried tuna, seaweed and shiitake mushrooms. This is used to prepare clear soups with an insert called Suimono. There are also soups made from miso, a paste made from soy, of which there are different types. Some are sweet, others are salty. Miso soups often contain vegetables or tofu.

Ramen soup in the Wagamama restaurant

Pickled vegetables, which used to be eaten mainly in winter, also play an important role. The most common pickles are Chinese cabbage, cucumbers, aubergines and beets, as well as green, unripe ume “plums”, but not in vinegar, but in brine, miso or rice broth. The green ume are pickled as a delicacy and are called umeboshi. They are often served for breakfast as an appetizer.

More flavor instead of spices

Japanese cuisine limits itself to simplicity when it comes to spices: only Sichuan pepper is used as a table spice, either alone or mixed with tangerine or orange peel and with chiles. Otherwise, the taste of Japanese dishes comes from the fresh ingredients, dried seaweed, seaweed, soy sauce and miso.

The spicy green horseradish wasabi is served in paste form with sashimi and sushi; aromatic leaves (e.g. perilla, water pepper and the young leaves of Sichuan pepper) serve as a fragrant garnish. (Info: aid, g.katzer, Wikipedia)

More parts about Japanese cuisine will soon appear on www.foodaktuell.ch on the following topics:
Teppan grill
Green tea
Sake rice wine
soy sauce
Fugu puffer fish
Whale meat

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