21 February 2012

10 Most Popular Japanese Dishes

Japanese cuisine is very different to British, and offers a huge variety of tasty and unique dishes.

A lot of Japanese dishes are healthier than British dishes, being a nation very big on fish. There are many variations of the same dishes, relying on different factors to depict the end result.

1. Sushi
Sushi is a well-known popular Japanese dish, that consists of cooked vinegared rice (shari) combined with other ingredients.

Although it is commonly known as a Japanese dish, original sushi (nare-zushi) actually originated in South-east Asia, spreading to south China, before being introduced to Japan.

The varieties that are found in sushi arise from the different fillings and toppings, condiments, and their preparation.

2. Fried Rice
Fried rice is very popular in Asian cuisine. It is made from steamed rice stir-fried in a wok, often with other ingredients such as  eggs, meat (chicken, beef, or cured pork), seafood (shrimp or lobster), vegetables (carrots, broccoli, bean sprouts, celery, peas, corn, mushrooms), spices and peppers, and soy sauce or sometimes oyster sauce.

There are many different variations of fried rice. Some common variations include: Hokkien or Fujian fried rice, Bai cha, Canton, Cha Han, Yangchow, Yuan yang fried rice, Burmese fried rice, Thai fried rice, American Fried Rice, Nasi goreng, Chaufa, Chaulafan, Kimchi bokkeumbap, Sinangag, Curry fried rice, Hawaiian fried rice, Arroz Frito, Omelette rice.

3. Tempura
Tempura is a Japanese dish of seafood or vegetables that has been deep-fried and battered. A light batter is made of cold water and soft wheat flour (cake, pastry or all-purpose flour). Eggs, baking soda or baking powder, starch, oil, and/or spices may also be added.

Thin slices or strips of vegetables or seafood are dipped in the batter, then briefly deep-fried in hot oil. Vegetable oil or canola oil are the most common.

4. Okonomiyaki
Okonomiyaki is a Japanese savoury pancake made-up of a variety of ingredients. It is mainly associated with Kansai or Hiroshima areas in Japan, but can be bought from around the nation. 

Depending whereabouts you are, normally depicts what toppings and batters are applied.
When served with a layer of fried noodles, the resulting dish is called modanyaki.

5. Donburi
Donburi, commonly abbreviated as 'Don' is a Japanese rice bowl dish consisting of meat, fish, vegetables or other ingredients simmered together and served over rice.

The simmering sauce used is varied in accordance to the season, ingredients, region, and taste.

The varieties of donburi are (and not limited to): Gyūdon, Tendon, Tamagodon, Unadon, Oyakodon, Katsudon, Tekkadon, Hokkadon, Negitorodon, and Tenshindon.

6. Yakizakana
Yakizakana is (and literally means) grilled fish, and can be done in a variety of ways. It is served with rice, miso soup, or both.

For it to be left overnight to dry with just a bit of salt is very common and tasty. Dried with varying degrees of saltiness and sweetness is also another common practice.

7. Udon
Udon is a type of thick wheat-flour noodle in Japanese cuisine. Udon is usually served hot as noodle soup in a mildly flavoured broth called kakejiru, which is made of dashi, soy sauce and mirin. Another common topping is tempura (number #3 on this list).

Broth flavourings and toppings vary from region-to-region, even the packeted version is sold in two different types, one for the east and one for the west. Udon noodles are served chilled in the summer and hot in the winter.

Some hot variations of the dish include: Kake, Kitsune, Tempura, Tanuki, Tsukimi, Wakame, Karē udon, Chikara, Stamina, Nabeyaki udon, Kamaage udon, Udon-suki, Yaki udon, Misonikomi udon, Houtou udon, Ninja udon.

Some cold variations include: Zaru, Bukkake udon, and kijoyu udon.

8. Ramen
Ramen is a Japanese noodle dish. It consists of Chinese-style wheat noodles served in a meat, broth, often flavoured with soy sauce or miso, and uses toppings such as sliced pork, dried seaweed, kamaboko, green onions, and sometimes corn. Ramen is another popular Japanese dish with varieties of itself.

Ramen soup is typically categorized into four titles: Shio, Tonkotsu, Shōyu, Miso.

Some varieties of the dish are: Sapporo, Kitakata, Tokyo, Yokohama, and Hakata.
Ramen even has it's own museum devoted to it named: 'Shin-Yokohama Raumen Museum'.

9. Sukiyaki
Sukiyaki is a Japanese dish in the Japanese hot pot style. It consists of meat which is slowly cooked at the table, alongside vegetables and other ingredients, in a shallow iron pot in a mixture of soy sauce, sugar, and mirin.

It is usually a winter dish, being eaten a lot at Japanese year-end parties.

10. Chanko-Nabe
Chanko-Nabe is a Japanese stew commonly eaten in vast quantity by sumo wrestlers as part of a weight-gain diet. To add flavour, it contains a dashi or chicken broth soup base with sake or mirin.

Leftover chanko-nabe broth can also later be used as broth for somen or udon noodles (number #7 in this list).

Sumo wrestlers specialise in the dish, and is popular in restaurants. It is not uncommon to find retired sumo wrestlers in restaurants making chanko-nabe.

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