Each culture has its own culinary traditions and typically national dishes. Japan is no exception to the rule.

Start the meal well

Before eating, it is customary to pronounce “itadakimasu”, an expression which does not mean “good appetite” but which means “to receive”. It is in fact a question of thanking the one who prepared the meal but also the farmers, the animals, nature,… This expression is associated with a polite formula. Therefore, not pronouncing it can be frowned upon. Just as there is a way of saying it: one brings his hands together as if to say a prayer, then one lowers the head towards the hands while saying clearly “itadakimasu”. The meal can then begin.

Some Japanese specialties

The Tempura : it is obtained by preparing a batter that is more fluid than a pancake batter that is kept cold thanks to a bed of ice. Slices of fish (tuna, cod,…), seafood (shrimps, octopus,…) and vegetables (carrots, eggplants,…) can be added according to individual tastes. For a successful Tempura, the frying oil must be at 180 ° C. The speed of cooking prevents the oil from soaking the resulting donut. The latter is therefore particularly appreciated as being a digestible food.

The Teppanyaki : it is literally food (vegetables, meat, fish, etc.) “grilled on an iron plate”. In itself, this is nothing extraordinary. However, this process is generally reserved for restaurants which can invest in the necessary equipment. On the other hand, the preparation is done under the eyes of the customer who attends a real show in which large flames are created and where the cook juggles with his kitchen instruments.

The Shabu-Shabu : Japanese equivalent of Burgundy fondue, this dish is inspired by Chinese culture. It’s really about cooking meat, not in oil, but in boiling water. Once cooked, the pieces of meat are dipped in sauces (sesame, soy sauce,…).

The Yakitoris : these are skewers cooked in the same way as with a barbecue. They can be made from beef, chicken, octopus, salmon, etc.

The Makis and the Sushi : essential, these are mixtures of rice and fish (even vegetables) rolled in a sheet of seaweed (“nori”). They are generally associated with Sushi which have the same base (rice, fish). Concretely, it is rolled rice with a hint of wasabi on which we drop a thin slice of fish.

The Sashimi : these are simply thin slices of raw fish that you can eat, for example, with wasabi or soy sauce.

The Udon : these are thick white noodles made from wheat. Eat hot or cold, the Japanese generally boil them in broth (called “dashi”) to which all types of food can be added (vegetables, spices, eggs, tofu, etc.).

The Nattō : it is often eaten in the morning and consists of sticky fermented soybeans. Its appearance and smell do not make it a popular dish for foreigners.

The Miso : it is a soybean paste fermented so that it can be made into soup. Its beneficial properties for health make it a dish of choice.

These are only examples here, Japanese cuisine being particularly rich. We can also sometimes feel Western inspirations. Once the dish has been consumed, all that remains is to say “oishikatta”, translation of “it was delicious”, “it was good”.

Photo: Christopher Lance

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