30 Japanese food you can't miss

Over the years, Japan has left an indelible mark on the culture of Spain and other Spanish-speaking countries.

Not only has it been an agent of change in the field of automobiles, technology and animation, but it has also delighted our palates by introducing us to its exquisite and unique gastronomy. At the Japanese Center, we immerse ourselves in Japanese cuisine and that is why we have created a special selection of 30 Japanese delicacies that we believe every lover of good food should discover.


1. Sushi

When we think about Japanese cuisine, sushi is one of those emblematic dishes that comes to mind. This delicacy conquered hearts outside of Japan, especially in the United States, after the Meiji Restoration in 1868, and its fame has not stopped growing.

Sushi is a term that encompasses dishes prepared with Japanese rice seasoned with rice vinegar. Among the varieties, makizushi stands out, wrapped in nori seaweed, nigiri, with slices of raw fish on small portions of rice, and inarizushi, stuffed with rice inside fried tofu.


2. Udon

Udon, one of the three main varieties of noodles in Japan, is characterized by being thick and chewy, traditionally made with wheat flour and salt water.

These noodles are versatile; They can be sautéed, added to soups, or served cold with a soup base for dipping. However, udon is mostly enjoyed in soups, with a delicious broth and various ingredients.


3. Tofu

Tofu is more than a vegetarian alternative. In Southeast Asian countries like Japan, tofu, especially silken, is a popular ingredient.

Essentially, tofu is produced by coagulating soy milk and pressing the resulting lumps into blocks. It can be enjoyed raw, cooked or fried, and serves as a complement to various preparations.


4. Tempura

For lovers of crunchy flavors, tempura is a delight. It consists of pieces of meat, fish or vegetables, bathed in a special mixture and fried until a subtle golden brown.

Unlike other countries, in Japan tempura is commonly made with seafood or vegetables such as green beans, pumpkin, and daikon radish. It can be enjoyed alone, with a little grated radish and tsuyu sauce, or as an accompaniment to rice bowls or noodle soups.


5. Yakitori

In Japan, a sports match would not be complete without yakitori. Translated as 'barbecue chicken', yakitori are skewers of chicken pieces seasoned with salt or brushed with a sauce made from mirin rice wine, soy sauce, sake and sugar.

Popular varieties of yakitori include momo (chicken thigh), negima (chicken with scallions), and tsukune (chicken meatballs).


6. Sashimi

Sashimi is one of the most emblematic and debated dishes of Japanese cuisine. It consists of thinly sliced ​​raw fish or meat and is usually served with daikon radish, pickled ginger, wasabi, and soy sauce.

Unlike sushi, which always uses vinegary rice, sashimi focuses on the exquisite freshness of the fish. To truly savor the art that is sashimi, it is crucial that the fish be of the highest freshness.


7. Ramen

Ramen, a noodle soup that conquers hearts. With its wheat noodles, savory broth, and a variety of ingredients such as meat and vegetables, it is a favorite food in Japan.

The Japanese have a passion for ramen that goes beyond, there is even a ramen themed museum in Tokyo. It is a delicious and affordable food that can be found on almost every corner.


8. Donburi

Donburi is equally loved in Japan. It is a bowl of rice served with meat, fish and cooked vegetables.

There are endless varieties of Donburi. Some of the most popular include oyakodon with chicken and egg, gyudon with beef, and tendon with tempura. This simple and complete dish is the perfect choice for a quick lunch.


9. Natto

Natto can be a challenge for the uninitiated. It is a traditional dish made from fermented soybeans and has a powerful smell and sticky texture.

Despite its appearance, it is highly nutritious and has a rich, salty flavor. Some people love it, while others not so much. Is it delicious or disgusting? Up to you.


10. Oden

Oden is the perfect comfort dish for a cold Japanese winter. It is a stew that combines various ingredients such as fish, tofu and vegetables, cooked slowly in a light broth.

It is a communal meal, where everyone can choose their favorite ingredients. The aroma of the broth and the variety of ingredients make Oden a unique culinary experience.


11. Tamagoyaki

Tamagoyaki, a delicious and versatile Japanese omelet, is perfect for any time of day. It is made by cooking and rolling several layers of beaten egg.

It is served in slices and can be sweet or savory. In sushi restaurants, it is common to finish the meal with a tamagoyaki nigiri, due to its light sweet flavor.


12. Soba

Soba, or buckwheat noodles, is another type of noodle popular in Japan. They are darker and have an earthy flavor that pairs well with garlic or sesame.

They can be served hot in a soup or cold accompanied by a dipping sauce. Soba noodles are a refreshing and tasty alternative to typical wheat noodles.


13. Tonkatsu

Tonkatsu is an example of how Japan adopts and adapts Western food. It consists of breaded and fried pork chops, and is usually served with a special tonkatsu and cabbage sauce.

It is a crunchy and juicy food that has become a classic in Japan, it can also be enjoyed in curries or in sandwiches.


14. Kashi Bread

Kashi Pan refers to sweet breads, and they are very popular in Japan. Various delicacies include melon pan with a cookie dough topping and an pan filled with sweet bean paste.

It's a breakfast or snack option, and bakers in Japan have perfected these little rolls to perfection.


15. Sukiyaki

Sukiyaki is another traditional stew, ideal for the winter months. With beef, vegetables, noodles, and a sweet-savory broth, it's a dish that invites community and warmth.

Sukiyaki gives you the freedom to combine the ingredients you like the most, and it is a culinary experience that also involves sharing and enjoying with others.

sopa miso

16. Miso Soup

A staple of Japanese food, miso soup is often served alongside main meals. Made with miso paste and dashi broth, its umami flavor complements and enhances other dishes.

You can find various ingredients added to the soup, such as tofu and seaweed, which give it more substance.


17. Okonomiyaki

Known as the "Japanese pancake", Okonomiyaki is a mixture of dough, cabbage and other ingredients that are cooked on a hot griddle.

It's a dish that invites you to be creative, and in some restaurants, you can prepare it yourself, which adds fun to the dining experience.


18. Mentaiko

For lovers of marine flavors, Mentaiko is a delight. It is fish eggs marinated in different seasonings.

Whether plain or spicy, Mentaiko can be enjoyed in different ways: as a side dish, in ramen, or even mixed with butter for a pasta sauce.


19. Nikujaga

Nikujaga is a savory savory dish of meat, potatoes, and various vegetables simmered in soy sauce, sake, mirin, and sugar. Nikujaga, which is a meat and potato stew, is one of the Japanese dishes grouped under the name 'nimono' (meaning 'boiled things').

Although nikujaga is available in many Japanese restaurants, it is also considered a home-cooked dish that varies in taste from home to home. To have an authentic Japanese experience with nikujaga, it is best to be invited to a Japanese friend's home and make a request to the family chef.

arroz con curry

20. Rice with Curry

Known in Japanese as kare or kare raisu, Japanese curry is a yoshoku dish that was originally introduced to the Japanese by the British during the Meiji era (1868-1912). Japanese curry differs from the Indian varieties that the UK is more familiar with, as it is generally sweeter in flavour, thicker in texture, and is prepared more like a stew (with meat and vegetables cooked by boiling in water together). ).

Japanese curry is often prepared in Japanese homes with the help of curry roux; blocks of solidified Japanese curry paste that melt into the 'stew' and thicken to become a tasty curry sauce.

Unagi no Kabayaki

21. Unagi no Kabayaki

'Unagi' is the Japanese word for 'freshwater eel', and unagi no kabayaki is a popular unagi dish that dates back to the Edo period (1603-1868), when Japanese people used to eat unagi kabayaki during the summer to gain energy. .

Unagi no kabayaki is made by brushing prepared eel fillets with a sweetened soy sauce-based kabayaki sauce and grilling them.

The name 'kabayaki' refers to this cooking method, and it can also be made with other types of fish, including catfish. However, if you are in Japan during the summer, take the opportunity to try the genuine article.

Shabu shabu

22. Shabu shabu pot

Shabu shabu is a nabemono hot pot dish similar to sukiyaki, made by boiling vegetables, tofu, and other ingredients in a mild broth seasoned with kombu seaweed, and then dipping very thin slices of meat into the broth and stirring them until cooked ( usually around 10-20 seconds).

This meat is then dipped in a soy sauce seasoned with citrus ponzu or sesame sauce before being eaten with some of the other boiled ingredients.

The name 'shabu shabu' is an onomatopoeic word for the noise that slices of meat make when stirred in the broth.


23. Onigiri

Onigiri rice ball is Japan's original portable food.

Also known as 'omusubi', 'nigirimeshi' or simply 'rice balls', onigiri are portions of Japanese rice, usually with a filling in the centre, that have been molded into triangular or cylindrical shapes before being wrapped in nori seaweed. .

Onigiri have been enjoyed in Japan for hundreds of years, and most Japanese convenience stores now sell a wide variety of onigiri for 100-150 yen (approximately €0.63-€0.95) each. Popular onigiri fillings include umeboshi pickled plums, seasoned seaweed, tuna mayonnaise, and teriyaki chicken.


24. Gyoza

Gyoza are moon-shaped dumplings made from a minced mixture of savory fillings (a common combination is minced pork, cabbage, green onion, and mushroom, but other fillings can also be used) that are wrapped in a wrapper. circular gyoza and are gathered or folded at the edges to give it an iconic half-moon shape.

Gyoza dumplings are typically cooked by frying on one side (a process that gives the gyoza a crispy, flavorful base), and then steamed for 2-3 minutes so that the rest of the wrapper is smooth and silky, and the filling inside is moist and juicy.


25. Takoyaki

When it comes to Japanese street food, few are more notable than takoyaki. Also known as "octopus balls" or "octopus dumplings," this delicacy is cooked using a special hot plate with rows of hemispherical molds. Each of the molds is filled with a salty dough mixture before a piece of tako octopus meat is inserted in the middle. The takoyaki are turned with a toothpick or skewer every minute to ensure an evenly cooked exterior and a perfectly round dumpling at the end.

Takoyaki are usually served in portions of six, eight or ten, brushed with a sweet/salty takoyaki sauce and topped with mayonnaise, aonori seaweed and katsuobushi bonito fish flakes.

Kaiseki Ryori

26. Kaiseki Ryori

If you are hoping to experience the Japanese equivalent of haute cuisine, then you must try kaiseki ryori. Also known simply as "kaiseki", kaiseki ryori are traditional Japanese multi-course dinners.

A complete kaiseki may involve a dozen or more different dishes made with fresh, seasonal and/or local produce, each prepared in very small portions and in such a way as to enhance the natural flavor of the ingredients. The dishes in kaiseki demonstrate different cooking techniques, and the entire experience is considered as much an art as formal dining in Japan.

Kaiseki can usually be enjoyed in specialty restaurants or ryokan (Japanese-style inns).


27. Edamame

While bar-goers in Spain typically eat olives and patatas bravas with their drinks, regulars at izakaya bars in Japan enjoy freshly prepared edamame.

These bright green, immature soybeans, harvested before the beans harden, are typically served in the pod after being blanched and lightly salted. In addition to having a naturally delicious and mild umami flavor that pairs well with light salt seasonings, edamame kernels also have several health benefits (being naturally high in protein, iron, and calcium).

Edamame is often served in bars and restaurants as a complimentary appetizer.


28. Yakisoba

It's virtually impossible to attend a summer festival in Japan and not find a yakisoba stall.

Yakisoba is a fried noodle dish made by barbecue or stir-fry with a combination of noodles, sliced ​​cabbage, pork, carrot and other vegetables, and a barbecue-style yakisoba sauce. During summer festivals, large piles of these ingredients are dumped onto a hot outdoor griddle and barbecued, but yakisoba can also be easily made at home using a large frying pan or wok.

"Yakisoba" means "cooked soba," but unlike other soba noodles, the noodles used in yakisoba do not contain buckwheat.


29. Chawanmushi

As far as soft, comforting, and uniquely Japanese dishes go, chawanmushi is one of the best.

This steamed salted egg custard is made by pouring beaten and seasoned eggs into individual cups that are already filled with different meats and vegetables (including chicken, mushrooms, ginkgo nuts, kamaboko fish cakes, and carrots), and then steaming them cups in a pot or steamer until they have solidified and have a pudding-like texture.

Chawanmushi gets its name by combining the words "chawan" (meaning "cup of tea") and "mushi" (meaning "steamed"), so chawanmushi is literally "steamed in a cup."


30. Wagashi

The most authentic way to end a Japanese meal or matcha tea ceremony is with wagashi.

Wagashi are traditional Japanese sweets, invented during the Edo period and influenced by predominant Japanese ingredients and flavors. Most wagashi are made using only a small number of select ingredients, including mochi rice cakes, anko paste, kanten (agar; a vegetarian gelatin-like thickener), chestnuts, and sugar.

The most popular wagashi include dango (sweet mochi balls on sticks, often served with sugar syrup), daifuku (mochi rice stuffed with anko), dorayaki (anko between two thick pancakes), and yokan (blocks of anko hardened with kanten and sugar).


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