Nikuman are among the tastiest snacks you can have during a chilly rainy day in Japan. Soft, warm, and full of savory umami flavor, few things can warm you up quite the way nikuman can. Well, a few other snacks can hit the spot on those chill, rainy days, and we’re here to tell you all about them!
So don’t let some clouds and a little rain damper your day! Whether you make these at home or buy your favorite kind from a store, these snacks are a surefire way to have a warm and tasty snack when you need them most!
Nikuman are small pork dumplings. Also known as baozi in China, nikuman consists of flour, meat, and various fillings. There are numerous ways to fill nikuman, with some more popular varieties including shumai (filled with pork), kare-man (filled with curry), an-man (filled with red bean paste), and even pizza-man (filled with pizza-flavored ingredients). Regardless of what you’re craving or what tastes you prefer, a nikuman is available just for you.
What makes nikuman unique is the folding and pleating that goes into making the dumplings. Making the proper nikuman requires more than simple pinching or pressing the dough to achieve the desired shape. Presentation can be as important as taste with nikuman, so don’t forget to practice folding and pleating!
Everyone loves a good bowl of hot ramen. Hot and filling, good ramen can include many different meats, vegetables, and other ingredients. In Japan, ramen is taken very seriously, and some of the best ramen available can change your life. For those of us who can’t take the trip to enjoy the nation’s greatest tonkotsu ramen, Cup Noodles is another excellent option.
Cup Noodles are simple and effective. Peel back the lid, add hot water, and let it sit for a few minutes. When the time’s up, just take the lid off and enjoy your meal. The accessibility and convenience of Cup Noodles cannot be overstated. Whether you need a hot meal at home, work, school, or anywhere else, hot water can help you have a warm and filling meal in minutes.
If a larger meal is what you’re after, then oden is the answer. Oden is a large one-pot dish meant for sharing with a group or family. It’s a stew containing fish cakes, daikon radish, atsuago (deep-fried tofu), and other ingredients. These are all simmered in a flavorful dashi broth. Served fresh and hot, fewer dishes can warm you up faster than a big bowl of oden.
Oden is so prevalent in Japan that when the colder autumn and winter months come, Japanese convenience stores (konbini) and underground supermarket food floors (depa-chika) begin serving oden. With such wide varieties of oden available with mushrooms, sausage, chicken wings, potatoes, and more, oden is one dish that’ll cure your rainy-day blues.
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Zoni might have one of the most interesting histories of all the foods on this list. It’s a soup that consists of mochi (rice cakes) cooked alongside various vegetables, meats, and other ingredients in different broths. Moreover, it was initially a meal associated with the samurai and was exclusive to them for many years. Most people usually eat it during New Year’s celebrations.
Some versions of zoni contain sumashi-jiru, a dashi stock. Others may contain stock made from white miso or red miso. Some prepare zoni by grilling mochi squares, while others boil them before adding to the soup. Regardless of your preference, zoni is a hearty, centuries-old dish many people enjoy.
Yakiimo are roasted sweet potatoes, and they’re a delicious snack. Only traditional Japanese sweet potatoes, known as satsumaimo, are used in making yakiimo. Satsumaimo are smaller than other sweet potato varieties and has a unique flavor profile.
They’re traditionally cooked on hot stones called ishiyaki imo (stone-roasted-potato.) Yakiimo were wrapped in paper and placed on the hot stones until perfectly cooked. Luckily, the traditional hot trucks that used to serve yakiimo aren’t the only way to have them. Over-roasting warm yakiimo at home is just as efficient (just remember not to use salt or butter – the sweet potato itself is all you need!)
Plenty of other great snacks can warm you up on a fantastic rainy day, but we don’t have enough space to list them all. What are some of your favorites? Did we include them in our list or forget to add them? Let us know in the comments below, and tell us what your favorite snack is!
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