Japanese cuisine: an overview
Perhaps only about Japanese dishes can we say that each of them is a whole world with its own philosophy. No wonder the inhabitants of the "Land of the rising sun" identify the preparation, serving and serving of food with a sacred ritual, filled with a special, deep meaning, and the process of eating – a solemn conceptual act.
Japanese cuisine has another very important difference from the table traditions of other peoples of the world. Only in Japan are dishes seasonal. Not in the sense that in the fall you will be served with fish carrots of the new crop, and in the spring-the first greens with rice. Simply, if autumn has come, then your order will be decorated with elegant maple leaves from the same carrot, and if there is a cherry blossom outside the window, then you will understand from the design of the dish that spring has come. Seasonality and freshness of products are valued in Japanese cuisine more than the ability of the cook to prepare food.
So, what dishes and recipes of Japanese cuisine are the most common in the Land of the rising sun? Of course, fish and seafood. After all, as in any island country, fish production is one of the leading sectors of the economy in Japan, and the Japanese eat a sixth of all seafood produced on a global scale! Add to the many varieties of fish used in the national cuisine, seafood (mussels, squid, oysters, crabs, shrimps, lobsters, lobsters) and seaweed, without which no meal is complete, and you will get a ready-made basis for any Japanese dish!
The Japanese know more than 10,000 species of marine animals, and most of them can be eaten. But in the recipes of Japanese cuisine, you will not find recommendations to fry the fish to a crisp. To keep the taste of fish unchanged, it is lightly fried, stewed, sometimes steamed, served raw and even eaten alive. Dishes made from live squid or fish are called "Odori". Just imagine: you put a piece of bass in your mouth, and it is still moving its tail! Needless to say, this fish definitely has its own natural taste…
The traditional love of the inhabitants of the "Land of the rising sun" for seafood and thrills explains the fact that every year the Japanese eat more than one and a half thousand tons of poisonous puffer fish. Despite the fact that the nerve poison contained in this fish-tetrodoxin-is 25 times stronger than curare poison and 275 times higher than the killing power of cyanides, the Japanese prepare an excellent delicacy of fugusashi from it and, most importantly, eat it with great pleasure.
It is difficult to imagine Japanese cuisine without rice, because it is not for nothing that in the old days Japan was called "the Land of rice ears". Traditional Japanese cuisine was formed on the basis of "gohan", i.e. rice. There are 700 varieties of rice in the world, of which 44 are cultivated in Japan. Japanese people eat rice daily, without seasoning, and believe that it preserves health and prolongs life. In addition to the fact that rice is used for cooking first and second dishes, including the world-famous sushi, it is also the main component for making setyu (strong rice vodka), sake and Japanese beer.
Vegetable dishes in Japanese cuisine came from China. Onions, carrots, turnips, cucumbers, lettuce, cabbage, Lotus, bamboo, sweet potatoes, hosonegi onions, wasabi (a plant in the Cabbage family), radishes and radishes – all these vegetables are used not only to set off the taste of fish or meat, but also to decorate dishes.
Salted and sauerkraut cucumbers, radishes and garlic are used for cooking seasonings and soups. From legumes, the most popular recipes are based on beans and soy.
Tofu-soy cheese, as well as seyu-soy-bean sauce – are the most favorite products of the national cuisine and can serve as an addition to second courses, cold appetizers and even tea.
As for meat and dairy products, only by the end of the 19th century, with the arrival of Europeans on the continent, they began to appear in Japanese cuisine, and then most often as a treat.
Some sources claim that the Japanese, when they first smelled the smell of beef and pork, fainted – so unusual, strong and repulsive it was for them. However, today in Japanese cuisine there are many meat dishes, and some of them are named in accordance with the sounds that emit pieces of meat stewed in sauce: shabu-shabu, shabu-shabu. Popular is the Japanese shish kebab Sukiyaki, katsudon-pork cutlet, Kobu-Gyu-marble meat, Sukiyaki nabe-marble meat with soy curd, noodles and vegetables.