A Look at Japanese Regional Food
What comes to mind when you think of Japanese food? For many people that would be sushi, sashimi and perhaps some kind of noodle soup. However there is much more to this cuisine than those dishes alone. Every region is Japan has its own specialties, as do the local areas, although you can break the cuisine down into two broad categories. These are the Kansai region in the west, associated with clear soups and lightly seasoned food, and the Kanto region in the east, associated with bolder flavors. Hokkaido in the north is famed for its fresh seafood, such as crab, squid, salmon roe, scallops, and sea urchin.
In the west you find Kyoto which offers simple, nutritious dishes like yudofu, which is a hot pot dish created by simmering vegetables and tofu in kelp broth. This is very popular during the cool winter months. Kaiseki ryori is a set meal, comprised of various dishes famed for their delicate flavors, all based on seasonal, local ingredients. The cuisine of the southern region of Okinawa is influenced by China, the United States and South East Asia. Champuru, a stir fry made with tofu, pork, eggs or green papaya, along with noodles, is a delectable dish from Okinawa.
Oodles of Noodles
Sapporo is home to ramen, the famous noodle soup. Morito Omiya had a noodle stand in the 1950s and added miso-flavored ramen soup to the menu. It became incredibly popular almost right away and the rest is history. Sapporo has more than a thousand noodle bars today serving ramen. Takamatsu is a city on the island of Shikoku which is famed for its local udon noodle soup. Tempura, fried tofu and green onions are just three examples of udon toppings.
Champon is a beloved dish in Nagasaki. It is made by boiling noodles in pork broth. The dish is then topped with seafood, meat and seasonal vegetables. The popularity of this dish has made it across the sea to Korea where it is served with chili oil and red pepper for a spicier finish. Perhaps you have heard of the ‘Japanese pizza’ which is a dish from Hiroshima. This is usually made with pancake-like batter and shredded cabbage. There are no rules as such for the filling or toppings, so the dish could be like a huge omelet with a custard-like center, or it might have meat or seafood incorporated into the batter and have a fried egg on top.
More Mouthwatering Japanese Dishes
Nagoya is home to tonkatsu, which is a breaded, deep-fried cutlet of pork served with shredded cabbage and rice. This is enjoyed all over Japan and is usually served with a thick brown sauce, but in Nagoya they prefer to drizzle it with a sweet version of miso instead. Our look at regional Japanese cuisine would not be complete without mentioning sushi, perhaps the most famous Japanese dish of all. Sushi dates back to the 1820s, when sashimi (slices of raw fish) were combined with rice. Both the vinegary rice and the wasabi paste were originally used as preservatives. If you ever find yourself in Tokyo, head to the Sukiyabashi Jiro restaurant and try what many keen foodies call the world’s best sushi!