Japanese food, simple keywords entered on Google, more than 22 millions results including images within 0,34 second. What will you see? Sushi, sashimi, raw fish everywhere... Takoyaki, udon, ramen...
This is not the kind of Japanese food I'm talking about, have you ever wondered besides sushi, yakiniku, udon or ramen, what else do Japanese have on their table everyday with their families?
To be honest, I've always thought Japan cuisine is all about raw fish, grilled dishes, various types of noodles, until I participated in local exchange program in my University as we were taken to a residents' area near Oita city and discovered all the miscellaneous things about how Japanese eat daily. We had the chance to meet with local people, listening to their stories about everyday lives, even their daily meals, eventually, we were guided how to cook a complete meal Japanese style, also the explanation of the perfect principle that created the Japanese meals' concept.
The local people said that a bowl of rice, soup and 3 kinds of side dishes are considered perfect for our health, especially if you can have it whether breakfast, lunch or dinner. Do you wonder what kind of soup and side dishes are used when we prepared our meal?
Most of us have had the chance of tasting this traditional food. Miso is made of soybeans and taste a bit sweet. Nowadays you will see in a bowl of miso soup: nori (seaweed), tofu, green onions, mushrooms or celery... which is healthy, and has the power to warm us up in cold seasons!
Nimono means simmered food in English. Vegetables, seafood, meat, beans… there are tons of food that are good for this side dish. It also warms us up especially in the cold weather, but we eat it at any time of the year.
This is a very simple but tasty one, it may be Japanese pickles or we just dress vegetables in some seasoning with sesame. The one in this picture is one of the most popular aemono in Japan: spinach marinated in a sesame sauce.
Tsukemono nowadays are also served as an appetizer, snack, or used as a garnish or topping.
Finally the star of the dining table! Normally main dish of a very traditional Japanese diner will be yakizakana (grilled fish), tonkatsu (fried pork cutlets) or nikujaga (sweet stewed meat and potatoes) or even sometimes will be karaage (deep fried chicken).
On the local exchange day, after we were guided how to cook a complete Japanese Traditional Daily meal, we were so happy to share and enjoy our dishes together with the residents and our college friends! We had miso soup, nimono tofu, for my tsukemono I chose takuanzuke, and fried beef with piman as the main dish!
With all the memories I had the chance to experience, I hope this will get you to know more about Japanese cuisine and its cultural backgrounds. As you may have realized, each dish is very simple and nutritionally perfect. In Japan, some walking streets may have various restaurants which serve this type of meal and they usually come in sets with acceptable prices and maybe with even more dishes (1,100yen/ set)
Don't forget to try this kind of meal if you have a chance to visit Japan!