I’m not sure if it’s obvious yet but, there are a few things in life I just can’t get over. Things that make my mind reel and that I’m obsessed over. Beauty, accessories, Japan and food, some people live to say…juggle, or sing, or get smashed, but those are the things I live for instead. I’ve been on a Japanese food streak lately so I thought I’d share the top 30 Japanese food I would probably, maybe, quite possibly, die without. I’m not exaggerating, I get doses of the following in regular intervals. I just sounded like a sick animal. Err…yeah. Sometimes I hunt down restaurants, sometimes I cook. I’m going to put up links of where I get what or recipes I use so if you’re anything like me, feel free to give it a try. Warning: This is a v–e–r–y long post.
What it is: Rich, fragrant spicy marinated roe of Pollock.
How to eat it: Topping for steamed rice, filling for onigiri (you can mix it with mayo and cheese too), as a pasta sauce, topped on seafood and grilled or mixed into salads.
What it is: Tender, slightly sweet, simmered squid stuffed with glutinous rice.
What it is: Small cake shaped patties filled with seafood or chicken and ragout sauce served with tonkatsu sauce.
Recipe! (I don’t use the vegetables stated)
What it is: Sea urchin roe.
How to eat it: As sashimi, as sushi, topped on pastas, topped on steamed rice with ikura.
What it is: Fluffy steamed rice topped with simmered chicken, egg and salty sweet oyako sauce.
What it is: Ramen served on the side with a rice dipping sauce.
Where to eat: 風雲児 Fuunji in Shinjuku. You have to try their 特製つけ麺 tokusei tsukemen. Go for the regular size (futsu). Adventurers, gluttons and eating competitors, go for the large. Or two. Worth the queue regardless of weather , travel and plane ticket.
What it is: Grilled mackerel in teriyaki sauce.
Ingredients: Bottled Teriyaki Sauce or 1 1/2 tbsp soy sauce, 1 1/2 tbsp mirin, juice of half a yuzu. Two slices Mackerel. Oil to cook. Salt to season.
1) Lightly score mackerel at 1.5cm intervals, skin side. 2) Mix ingredients for teriyaki sauce and marinate mackerel slices for about an hour. 3) Heat oil in a pan. I normally use a brush or cloth for this to get a very light coat of oil. Cook both sides for 8 minutes. 4) Add in the teriyaki sauce used in marinating the fish and allow to caramelize. 5) Serve with steamed rice.
What it is: traditional Japanese food made from soybeans fermented with Bacillus subtilis. It is popular especially as a breakfast food. (From Wikipedia.)
How to eat it: Topped on rice, with sushi, with soba, with pasta, mixed with leeks and other vegetables or mixed with chicken and stir fried with sesame oil, ginger and garlic.
What it is: Very small (maximum 5 cm) crustacean caught in the Suruga Bay of Shizuoka Prefecture. (From Shizuoka Gourmet)
How to eat it: As sushi, topped on rice and steamed, filling for onigiri, mixed into kaki-age or mixed into and topped on rice crackers.
What it is: Japanese banana flavored sponge cakes with a velvety banana filling.
Where to buy: Get a friend to buy it for you if they live in or is visiting Japan. Tokyo Banana has a two week expiration date so be wary of online resellers.
What it is: Curry derived from the western style. Japanese adopted their version of curry after being introduced by the British Navy’s style of cooking stews mixed with curry powder.
What it is: Crispy breaded fried oysters that are deep fried and served with a dipping sauce (usually tonkatsu sauce).
What it is: Japanese version of the hamburger. Similar to Salisbury steak with roots to steak tartar. Appeared in Japan during the Meiji Era (1868-1912).
Ingredients: 280g minced beef, 120g minced pork, 4g salt, 1 egg, 1 chopped white onion, 50g breadcrumbs, pepper (to taste)
1) Saute onions to golden brown. 2) Combine minced meat with 1% of salt, quickly mix meat well (with hands). The salt breaks down proteins and helps the meat ‘stick’ together. 3) Moisten breadcrumbs with water squeeze excess liquids out. 4) Knead all ingredients together and season with spices of choice ( Play around with the spices to create your own blend. Nutmeg, pepper are the most common spices used.) 5) Divide mixture into four portions and shape each portion into a patty shape by tossing between hands (this will release air trapped in the patty). Keep the thickness of each patty to 1.5cm – 2cm. 6) *Optional* Coat patties with breadcrumbs, avoid over coating. 7) Create an indentation in the centre of your patties to prevent swelling of the patty while cooking. Cook with medium to medium high heat. Ensure you are using enough oil, oil should reach slightly above the edges of the patties.
Points: Don’t press the meat while cooking, doing so will cause the meat juices to seep out.
P.S I went through hell and back to translate the recipe. Invalid, irrelevant and unnecessary points have been removed. I almost died.
What it is: Japanese rice formed into triangular, oval or sometimes creative animal shapes. Usually filled with savory bits of ingredients and wrapped with seaweed.
What it is: Simmered beef with onions served over rice.
The video is super detailed, accurate, well presented and also entertaining on so many levels! Cooking with dog. ROFLMAO. Please, please, please watch the video! Even if you can’t cook to save your life.
What it is: Round dumplings made of batter and filled with octopus, tenkasu (tempura batter bits), pickled ginger and finely sliced green onion. There are variations with other ingredients as fillings.
Where to eat: Tsukiji Gindaco.
What it is: Thin slices of vegetables or seafood coated in a light batter and quickly deep fried.
What it is: Fresh water eels grilled with a soy based sauce.
Where/How to eat: Chako Japanese Restaurant. Not only are the dishes authentic and absolutely delicious, there’s just something about ‘home cooked’ dishes that makes you feel warm and fuzzy.
What it is: Chinese style wheat noodles served in a soup made of meat or fish stock. It is usually seasoned with miso or shoyu (soy sauce) but there are many variations for the soup broth. The dish is can be topped with cha-shu- (Japanese braised pork roll), kamaboko (type of Japanese fishcake), menma (fermented bamboo shoots), ajitama ( marinated half boiled eggs), roasted seaweed, green onions, corn, or bean sprouts.
Where to eat: Santouka’s Tokusen Toroniku Ramen. (I normally choose the spicy miso broth)
What it is: Japanese peaches are generally larger, softer and more expensive than Western peaches, and their flesh is usually white rather than yellow. Peaches are commonly eaten raw after being peeled. Japanese peaches are in season during the summer. (From here) Japanese white peaches are seasonal so keep a look out for them during Spring/Summer (March to August).
How to eat: Fresh, steeped in flavored syrup, as a topping for pastries, as a filling for jellies, made into sorbet.
What it is: Marinated barbequed meat with dipping sauces and side dishes.The dish has roots to the Korean bulgogi and was adapted by Koreans living in Japan to Japanese tastes.
Where to eat: Yakinikutei Ao-chan.
Number Twenty One
What it is: Asari clams steamed with sake and konbu. Delectably light and refreshing side dish for drinking sessions or with rice.
Number Twenty Two
What it is: Skewers of bite sized meat, innards or vegetables with either shio (salt) or tare sauce (mirin, sake, soy sauce and sugar) grilled over charcoal.
Where to eat: Kushi Yakitori Dining Bar.
Number Twenty Three
What it is: Tarabagani or Red King Crab is caught in Autumn and Winter.
It is the most coveted of the commercially sold king crab species, and is the most expensive per unit weight. It was named after the colour it turns when it is cooked rather than the colour of a living animal, which tends to be more burgundy. (From here)
How to eat: As sushi, raw as sushi, boiled and topped over steamed rice, mixed with vegetables or seafood and topped over steamed rice, in soups, in chawanmushi (Japanese steamed egg custard), grilled, as nabemono (Japanese hot pot).
Number Twenty Four
What it is: Japanese tea poured over steamed rice with a variety of toppings. Delicious and light meal during hangovers, as a quick snack or when sick.
I love Cooking With Dog!
Number Twenty Five
What it is: A light winter stew with a variety of ingredients including hard boiled eggs, radish, fried beancurd skin, konnyaku, beef tendons, kelp, carrots, shiitake mushrooms, cabbage rolls, different types of tofu, different types of surimi (Japanese fishcakes),and tsukune (fish or meat balls). It’s a light and gratifying comfort food.
Number Twenty Six
What it is: A type of Japanese hot pot with thinly sliced beef as the key ingredient. There are many types of Japanese hot pots as it is a very popular winter dish. I don’t want to get into too many details about the differences so you can get more information here!
Number Twenty Seven
What it is: A cross bred variety of grapes that resulted in one) extremely easy to remove skin, two) incredible sweetness and low acidity and three) giant fruit. Chilean grown Kyoho grapes are in season from February to April or May whereas Californian Kyoho grapes are in season around late July – early August to early September, sometimes late October. Kyoho grapes grown in Japan are in season during late summer to early autumn.
How to eat: Peel off skin and serve chilled. Peeled and de-seeded and layered between parfait layers. As a filling for jellies. As accompaniments to savory dishes. Made into granita. As a sauce to drizzle over desserts.
Number Twenty Eight
What it is: Firm, noodle like jelly dessert made from agar.
How to make tokoroten. It’s really fun and the process is rather addictive.
Number Twenty Nine
What it is: Traditional Japanese confectioneries that are normally served with tea. They’re normally made with natural ingredients. There are more than twenty types of wagashi (each with different variations of designs and/or flavors) that are made with different ingredients. They are grouped into 3 different categories based on the degree moisture they contain. Wagashi isn’t only pretty to look at, their names are beautiful too. Their names usually consists of one word from natural beauty and another from ancient literature.
Where to eat: Unfortunately, Singapore doesn’t have much options for Wagashi and the only one I know of is Minamoto Kitchoan. The confectioneries can’t be compared in any way to those found in Japan but if you’re curious, this is a decent way to start.
For the chefs, patissiers or adventurer, here are some simple wagashi you can make (or attempt to make) at home. These are simpler recipes and shapes. If you can’t find some ingredients locally, you can probably find them online. Good luck!
P.S If you decide you’re into the art of wagashi making, there are loads of books online as well as ready made molds if you aren’t good with your fingers.
What it is: Japanese cream puffs that have a crisp, fluffy exterior that is filled with rich custard cream and dusted with icing sugar.
Where to eat: Singaporeans will likely know or have tried Beard Papa.
(I’m giving away my locked-in-a-box-hidden-in-a-wall recipe. I searched and tested too many recipes to remember before finding this!)
I don’t own any of the images. All images belong to their original owners. No copyright lose intended.
Do you like Japanese food? What are some of your favorites?
Share the ♥! -Emily L.