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Japanese Cuisine and Recipes

Japanese Recipes and cooking

Cooking by Country - October 2002

 

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Go to:-   Japan Speciality Dish  |  Japan Featured Ingredient  |  Cooking by Country Main Page

 

 

Japanese cuisine is known for its simplicity and aesthetic beauty which is firmly rooted in its Buddhist links.  It is also widely considered to be a healthy way of eating, with many dishes being consumed raw or lightly cooked with little added fat. But it's not just Sushi!

 

 

Ancient Times, History and Influences on Japanese Cooking

 

With a history which is over 10,000 years old, it may seem surprising that it's only in the last 300  to 400 years that Japanese cuisine has really  taken shape. Prior to that, there  two major influences on cuisine. In 400 B.C. rice was introduced to Japan from Korea, which quickly became a staple food and around 300 B.C. Soy beans and wheat were introduced from China. These two ingredients are now essential to Japanese cooking.

 

Religion has also played a major part in Japan's culinary habits over the years. During the 6th century, Buddhism became the official religion of  the country and the eating of meat and fish were prohibited. This lasted for 1200 years. Also, because of Buddhism's emphasis on nature,  the structure of meals where also influenced, in particular the five flavors and colours: sweet, spicy, salty, bitter and sour and yellow, black, white, green, and red.

 

During the sixteenth century  the Europeans (initially the Portuguese and the Dutch) came to trade with Japan and introduced fried foods. Up to this point the frying of foods was uncommon. They also introduced sugar and corn.

 

People started to eat meat again after the Meiji Restoration occurred in 1867. 

 

 

Current Day Japanese Cuisine

 

Today, Japanese cuisine is still heavily influenced by the seasons and geography. Seafood and vegetables are most commonly eaten. Whilst to some westerners, the food may seem almost bland,  freshness,  presentation and balance of flavours is of paramount importance, with great care being taken not to mask the taste and simplicity of the main ingredients. 

 

Nutritionally speaking,  the Japanese way of cooking is very healthy. Few dairy products are included and much of the protein consumed is  from vegetable sources, for example  tofu. Various seaweeds are also commonly used which are  a rich source of mineral. 

 

As a rule, a Japanese meal consists of several dishes, all served at the same time and almost always includes rice and soup, the latter being sipped throughout the meal. Having said that,  Sashimi ( raw fish)  and Sushi (tidbits which contain rice and other ingredients) are usually consumed at the beginning of the meal. Desserts are not usually served with the exception with fresh fruit on occasion. 

 

Click here for lots of Japanese Recipes

 

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