In the world of Japanese food, the variety is endless. Once known to be the nation where perfectionism is the way of life, they certainly uphold their part in the quality of food. In order to appreciate the fruits of their labour, let’s talk about some basics; table mannerism and how to eat Japanese food the right way.
Japanese Food – Back to the Basics
The Essentials Dos and Don’ts:
- Do not stab any food with your chopsticks. This is considered very rude since Japanese cuisine is usually served in bite sized pieces.
- Do not transfer food from one chopstick to another chopstick. Transferring food via chopsticks to chopsticks is a violation of sacred Japanese customs and traditions. If you do need to pass food to someone else, ask them for their individual plate and serve the food to them that way.
- Do not leave your chopsticks standing up in a food bowl. Similar to the Chinese culture, having a pair of chopsticks upright in a rice bowl can be seen as an offering to the deceased. Make sure to use the chopstick rest that is provided as part of the table setting.
- Do not play with your chopsticks
- Avoid pointing or waving your chopsticks at someone
A Taste of Ritual
Food rules take part of traditional Japanese cuisine, meals are usually divided into bowls and dishes and subdivided again in order to separate flavours and to make sure that each dish doesn’t touch the other one preserving the unique taste of each.
Here are some tips when eating Japanese food…
- Rice: Make sure to hold the rice bowl with one hand and chopsticks with the other. Do not pour soy sauce over white rice. It is considered disrespectful to waste soy sauce considering the amount of time to ferment them.
- Sashimi and Sushi: Simple golden rules apply – Never, ever put wasabi in soy sauce and make a paste to dip sushi in. The proper way is to put a small bit of wasabi on the top of the sushi, and then carefully turn the sushi upside down and dip it in the soy sauce. This way, the wasabi and the soy sauce mix, but stay distinct, and the rice stays white. Related tip: a piece of sushi is one piece – biting it in half is simply not done, and can create quite a mess. But there’s good news: It is fine to eat sushi with your hands.
- Noodles: It’s perfectly fine to be slurping away, it can be seen that you are enjoying your meal! As for the soup itself, you may drink the broth out of the bowl as though it were a cup. But burping is as much a no-no here as anywhere.
- Soup: When you’re eating soups like miso, you also hold the soup bowl in front of you in the opposite hand you use for chopsticks. When you do this, use your chopsticks to push the ingredients in the soup out of the way and just drink the broth. Please use your chopsticks to eat the ingredients in the soup.
- Japanese Breakfast: The same food rules practices are also there in a traditional Japanese breakfast. Your meal will be very similar to any local dish of the day and it will contain many small portions, each with a different flavour. For a “protein rich” start of day, go for a Japanese breakfast that will surely give you the energy boost for the day.
Sushi trend has taken on a variety of new flavours and styles. Delightful variations and creations were inspired by this trend indulging sushi lovers with more delicious options. Here are some of the of the trendiest sushi creations this summer:
- Sushi Burrito: Two exceptional dishes on their own are combined creating a Burrito-sized sushi roll. This trend features the classic raw fish and sushi ingredients wrapped and stuffed in seaweed.
- Sushi Cake: Instead of rolls , sushi is now presented as a cake! All the traditional ingredients of sushi including rice, fish, seaweed, and other greens, are arranged in layers making a colourful and tasty sushi cake. The ingredients are filled in between layers of sushi rice.
- Sushi Doughnut: Here is another creative take on sushi, a sushi roll with all its core ingredients presented in the shape of a doughnut. It is typically made of sushi rice shaped into a doughnut and topped with favourite sushi ingredients.
- Poke: a Hawaiian speciality that consists of fresh raw fish cut into bite-sized cubes in addition to sauces and other fresh ingredients that are served in the form of a salad. Japanese ingredients are the main flavours of the Poke, having the same ingredients of the Sushi and dressed with soy sauce, sesame oil, and seaweed. Different dressings are also crafted for this new trend such as wasabi mayonnaise or Sriracha mayonnaise.
Popularity of Japanese food around the world
Japanese cuisine as become one of the most popular in the world with its unique flavours and the fifth taste sensation, Unami. High profile chefs around the world got interested in the Japanese cuisine and the creation of “Unami Dishes”. The Japanese food has spread overseas to reach top French chefs who are now using not only miso and soy sauce, but also other authentic Japanese ingredients like wasabi, yuzu and kombu.
Moreover, the presentation of the Japanese dishes is an art form crafting indulgent ingredients in a beautiful way with outmost attention to the smallest details.
Japanese cuisine has also resisted the hype of junk snacks and fast food, the food culture remained largely healthy contributing to the physical wellbeing and healthy lifestyle. This global popularity has made the Japanese cuisine a popular one also for the hospitality professionals. The Japanese food can offer considerable benefits in terms of higher number of customers and higher income per customer.
With a new generation of millennial diners that have been introduced to sushi from a young age, and noting that Japanese food offers a winning combination of healthy options and rich umami flavours, the Japanese cuisine will remain on a rise, appealing to a majority of food lovers!