Japanese cooking

Noodles known and unknown

Not only tea

Unusual Goodies





A few introductory words about Japanese cooking

The art of cooking is one of the oldest forms of art, an integral part of the cultural heritage of mankind. It appeared, obviously, when someone managed to make fire and roast a piece of meat. You could say that cooking was born around the campfire of prehistoric man. But thousands of years passed before the cooking really became an art.

The art of cooking is to cook healthy and tasty food. Healthy food should contain all necessary to sustain life, but it must be delicious, to give pleasure, to enjoy the process of eating.

Each nation has developed its own national cuisine. It differs from other not only by specific food, but also the ability to give the borrowed your unique taste. While cooking, perhaps the most moving part of national culture. But the interpenetration, mutual does not destroy national identity.

Japanese culinary tradition is very different not only from European but also from neighboring Asian, for example Chinese. First of all, she shows the utmost respect for the pristine appearance of products that are definitely high – quality. Demanding that the Japanese attitude to food is in line with national traditions of perception of nature, worship of her that is reflected in their Shinto religion (the way of the gods). In antiquity on the altars of the gods – kami – were pinned only the best gifts of fields, mountains and seas: the freshest fish, ripe fruit, ripe Golden ears of rice shining white rice, i.e., that created by nature itself, to what has not been touched by the hand of the cook. Japanese cuisine is delicate and shows a poetic respect for nature’s gifts. Local chefs strive to preserve the original taste and appearance of food to the fish or vegetables cooked remained themselves. Gourmet cooking sauces and refined in ancient times would be akin to sacrilege, and now they are not so typical refined Japanese taste.

This is the fundamental difference between Japanese food from cooking in other countries very aptly noticed, a great connoisseur of Japan, who lived there for decades, the Italian Fosco Maraini. He wrote: “If Chinese food is the human introduction to art (how is this special sauce? What were these strange balls in original form?). If Western food is an introduction to human power (the More the better More tightly! These weapons of war – knives, forks! Shining metal cutting red flesh), then Japanese food is a connection to nature (the root is the root; the sheet has a worksheet; fish is fish); and the number of metered so as to avoid repletion, and thus the possible feelings of disgust”.

Entrees the ancestors of the Japanese had prepared on a fire many millennia ago in the so-called Jomon (10000 -5000 BC). Judging by archeological excavations, it was something reminiscent of chopped nuts made pie, baked on the fire. In those days the Japanese were eating a variety of plants (21 species), meat animals (122 species), fish (6 species), a variety of molluscs (30 species). All this was in abundance in the surrounding forests and seas, and it was pretty easy to get: kill a boar or deer, to gather nuts and chestnuts, to catch fish and pick up shells. Then cooking did not require much skill, but during archaeological excavations scientists are amazed that even several thousand years before our era the inhabitants of the Japanese Islands eat a spherical insidious poisonous fugu fish (dog-fish), apparently knowing that the poison contained in its liver and caviar. But even now chef cooking is supremely delicious and expensive dish, a special graduate school and get a license to open a specialized restaurant. Enjoy it is like to play Russian roulette. And such comparison is not unfounded: in the period from 1886 to 1979, more than 12.5 thousand people were affected by eating fugu, and almost 7 thousand of them died. Only in 1994 were poisoned 2B of this dangerous lover serves, however, only one died. Skilled chef restaurant owner in kishiwada city in Niigata Pref. Osaka has created a unique Museum dedicated to this amazing fish. The materials were sent to him from all parts of the country. In the Museum you can get a complete idea of how to avoid the danger of poisoning with this very popular dish. Annually eaten in Japan over 20 thousand tons of fugu. Considering the educational mission fulfilled, the owner wants to close the Museum. But the main reason is likely that after reviewing the exhibits of the Museum people have lost the desire to enjoy this dish. Truly, “in much wisdom is much grief; and he that increaseth knowledge increaseth sorrow.”

The ancient Japanese knew how to smoke meat, and store food in the refrigerator natural – deep (3 meters) pits, and use salt as a preservative. About in I century BC they joined the cultivation of individual plants. It is known that at the time, grew a pumpkin, Perilla is a perennial, some types of green beans, millet, buckwheat. Gradually the scope and the extent of cultivated plants expanded, but the real farming began approximately 2,500 years ago, when Japan started to cultivate rice. It is from this period and actually born Japanese cuisine, in which the main role for centuries it is played Fig. No wonder one of the ancient names of Japan – “Land of rice ears”.

The seasons and the harmony of the Japanese table

The alpha and omega of Japanese cuisine – dishes according to the season. Sometimes it is not less important than their cooking. The concept of seasonality in the Japanese culinary tradition is, primarily, the use of the products at the time of the year when they are particularly tasty. For example, tender, crispy, with a pleasant aroma of bamboo shoots (which generally play an important role in the national culinary tradition) – luck dishes of the spring season. Lotus root is revered seasonal food in spring and autumn. From time immemorial happened that fried eel best restores strength during the heat. There was even a special day when eating this fish. According to the lunar calendar he was about the middle of July. Seasonality is also reflected in the compulsory decoration of the dishes the characters at different times of the year. For example, in summer stifling hot days white cold noodles boiled in a frame of fresh leaves of red Perilla beckons with coolness and stimulates the appetite. Autumn dishes are decorated with red maple leaves, pine needles, chrysanthemum flowers, and carrot or radish are cut in the same shape of maple leaves. By the way, some Japanese chefs specialize in “production” of colors of vegetables. From slices of radish, carrot, pumpkin, they create a selection of iris flowers or roses that look like living.

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