If you’ve been to a Japanese restaurant recently, you’ve no doubt heard the comment: “If you want to get better at Japanese food, you have to eat more like Americans.” That’s not entirely accurate, as there are certainly a number of differences between Japanese and American diets. But the truth is that eating habits between these two countries share many similarities, and one thing that all Japanese food’s share is the basic structure of ingredients.
When you look at Japanese food dishes and compare them to ours, you’ll find a lot of similarities, including the fact that both use a lot of fish. The most common fish in Japanese food dishes are cod and seaweed. Of course, neither of us are going to dive into the specific details of Japanese digestion in this article, nor to make full value judgments on how their society eats. What can do, though, is simply to suggest that you abandon those preconceived ideas about Japanese food, for the sake of a few quick and easy observations.
Common Japanese Food Dishes
Ramen, one of the most common Japanese food dishes, gets its name from a type of bean. The word ramen comes from two words: ramyokan, which means “bean soup dish” in Japanese, and tokomu, which mean “to cook”. If you look back at any standard Japanese dictionary, both words actually translate as the same thing. However, when translated literally, the word ramen literally means “fish-pot”.
Tempura, another one of the more popular Japanese food dishes, also shares some similar characteristics with sushi. For starters, both are served without rice. However, tempura is more often served with vegetables or fish, while sushi is more often topped with an Asian-style garnishing of pickles, onions, and sesame seeds.
Soybean soup, another one of the more popular Japanese food dishes, actually comes from another part of the world but has the distinct flavors and textures of Japanese cuisine. Soybean soup is a bowl of raw vegetables and meat simmered together with water and ice cream, often flavored with ginger, sugar, or an herb such as ginger. This delicious dish is also a staple of many traditional Japanese meal deals and can be found all over the country. A favorite among the elderly and young alike, soy bean soup is enjoyed all over Japan.
beef is another staple of Japanese dishes, although it is perhaps not the most commonly eaten meat. Sausage, marinated in different kinds of seasonings, is not only a favorite meat dish among the Japanese, but also among the tourists who visit Japan. The sizzling, salty, and sweet deep-fried meat dishes are popular all over Japan and are usually served during special occasions. Japanese love to eat food that is pretty much cooked, so they will often order a dish that needs less cooking time.
Pork is another Japanese delicacy and is usually either grilled or steamed. One of the most common styles of cooking pork in Japan is called yakiniku, which means “raw fish”. Grilled pork is very popular, especially with the younger generation. Sometimes the cutlet of the pork is seared in a hot skillet with vegetables to give it a more raw taste, sometimes it’s just thrown into a pot with vegetables and cooked with beef or seafood stock and sometimes it’s made with vegetables and cooked completely with seafood.
Tempura, another one of the more popular Japanese food dishes, is prepared by deep-frying various ingredients in a frying pan until they are translucent and light. Tempura can be a salad or just a side dish, but is often served with pickled vegetables. Some pickles also go into tempura as well, such as wasabi. Not only is tempura a delicious and light dish, it’s also nutritious, consisting of 80% water. It’s easy to see why tempura is so popular among Japanese people!