The food of Japan makes up one of the great cuisines of the world. Millions of people around the world enjoy eating Japanese dishes on a regular basis, and many Japanese ingredients have found their way into the dishes and diets of other cultures. As with many other aspects of Japanese culture, the food of Japan offers a unique opportunity for anyone to enjoy the rich traditions of this island nation.
While most people in Japan are not vegetarians, their diet does incorporate a large number of different vegetables. Some of these vegetables are familiar to those in other countries, but others may be less well known. For example, the Japanese radish known as daikon is much larger and whiter than the familiar Western radish. It has a milder flavor and is used in many Japanese dishes. Mushrooms are also a common ingredient in Japanese cooking, and there are many different varieties available in Japan. Shiitake, matsutake and enoki mushrooms are all delicious varieties that can be used in Japanese cuisine.
As with many other Asian cuisines, rice is a staple ingredient in Japanese cooking. Rice was first cultivated over 2000 years ago in Japan and has been a central part of the Japanese diet ever since. Most of the rice eaten in Japan is short grain and sticky. White rice is more popular in Japan than the less processed brown rice. Rice is also used in many processed foods in Japan, such as the rice cakes known as mochi.
Tofu and other soy products are another important part of Japanese cuisine. Tofu can be prepared in many different ways in these dishes. It can be boiled, deep-fried or used as an ingredient in a stir-fry. Soy sauce is a common flavoring agent in Japanese dishes and comes in several different varieties. For example, koikuchi is the most common soy sauce found in Japan. It is made from equal parts soy and wheat. Tamari is a type of soy sauce made with little or no wheat.
There are many other aspects to Japanese cuisine. Anyone interested in the delicious food of this fascinating country will find more than enough to keep them interested for many years.