Japanese Culture: Japanese Cuisine

Japanese cuisine (日本料理) has come a long way, spanning several periods in Japanese history.  In the Ancient Era, also known as the Heian Period (平安時代) (794-1185), the main meal choices were derived from Chinese cuisine.  Boiled, plain rice, also known as gohan or meshi, was and still remains the main staple of Japanese cuisine.  During this period, Japanese society went from a semi-sedentary, hunter-gatherer lifestyle to an agricultural society.  Meals began to include fish, jellyfish, octopus, and meat.

Japanese cuisine has come a long way, spanning several periods in Japanese history.  Changes in the lifestyle of the Japanese people, political change, and even Western influence have played a role in shaping Japanese cuisine.The start of the Kamakura period (鎌倉時代) in the 12th century also marked political change in Japan.  Military government became nobility which, in turn, changed the etiquette of dining, rather than the meal itself.  The menu of this era consisted of dried abalone, jellyfish aemono, pickled ume called umeboshi, salt and vinegar for seasoning, and rice.

The period after the Kamakura period marked the beginning of the modern era in Japanese cuisine.  Centuries of changes have boiled down to this finalized list of staple foods that makes up their cuisine.  Since many Japanese people are Buddhists, they do not eat meat, resulting in a cuisine that consists primarily of seafood although, in recent years, meat and chicken have made their way into Japanese cuisine.  Noodles, rice, and vegetables are essential components to every Japanese meal.  If you would like to try Japanese food in your own home, here is a recipe for Chicken Teriyaki, a common dish served in many Japanese households.

CHICKEN TERIYAKI

1/4 c. teriyaki sauce
1/4 c. water
1/4 c. white vinegar
1/8 to 1/4 tsp. garlic powder
1/8 tsp. ground ginger
2 chicken breast halves, skin and fat removed

Stir all ingredients, except chicken, together in a baking dish or pan.  Add chicken pieces and turn a few minutes to coat well.  With flesh side down in sauce, cover and bake at 375 degrees for 45 to 50 minutes.  Makes 2 servings containing 160 calories and 6 grams of fat per serving.

The video, below, shows you how to make sushi in eight easy steps.

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Joie Montoya
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2 Responses to “Japanese Culture: Japanese Cuisine”

  1. Megan, Lancaster, CA Says:

    note: the geography actually plays a much larger role in the prevalence of seafood in Japanese cuisine; with land for raising cattle and other livestock at a premium (and most of what is available for agriculture being hilly/mountanous, suited for terracing for rice paddies and other crops but not for grazing), and the abundance of seafood by being an island nation where nearly every part has ready access to food from the ocean, this has created the predominance that exists today. Buddhists as a rule do not eat ANY meat, which includes seafood (basically if it can move on its own and/or has sentience of any kind – depending on how the practitioner chooses to interpret the teachings – it is taboo as food).

    beef is especially rare due to the large grazing area needed for each head of cattle; this is the (main) reason why Kobe beef and Wagyu beef are so expensive.

    🙂

  2. Sushi Monsters Says:

    Sushi Monsters…

    […]Japanese Culture: Japanese Cuisine « Flower Blossoms' Blog[…]…

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