When most people when they think of Japanese food, sushi, miso soup, white rice and ramen comes to mind. These dishes are known as washoku 和食, (traditional) Japanese food but did you know that in the Japanese cuisine many dishes were inspired by food from other countries? Even though these type of dishes are called yoshoku 洋食 western food, you wouldn't find any of these dishes outside Japan. Most of these dishes were created about 100~200 years ago during the Meji era (1868-1912) inspired by popular cuisines from other countries like France, Italy, America and the UK. The western dishes were adapted to suit the Japanese culture and made with ingredients that were available. For example to many of the yoshoku dishes rice was added, like taco rice which was inspired by Mexican food but with rice! Here are 5 popular Yoshoku dishes that you just have to try!
1. Japanese curry rice (kare raisu)
Kare raisu is the Japanese pronunciation for Curry rice which is a Japanese version of curry. Interestingly, curry wasn't introduced through people from the East-Asian countries like India, British people were the ones who introduced the dish to Japan! Japanese curry is always eaten in combination with Japanese white rice. Since many Japanese people aren't too keen on spicy food the Japanese version of curry is relatively mild. In Japanese curry restaurants like Coco Curry house you can eat the dish as spicy as you want though! The sauce is also generally thicker than Indian curry and Japanese red pickled ginger is added. The ingredients traditionally used in Japanese curry are potatoes, beef, carrots and onions but in restaurants you can also get seafood curry. Japanese curry is one of the most popular dishes in Japan, especially among children.
2. Omelet rice (omurice)
Japanese omurice or omelet rice is another popular dish also loved by children as well as grown-ups! It is unknown what western dish it was inspired on but the use of ketchup suggests that it might be inspired by American food. It's a fairly easy to cook dish, yet delicious! Rice, meat, onions and green peas are mixed and ketchup is added. A thin omelet covers the rice perfectly and is decorated with ketchup. Sometimes demi-glace is used instead of ketchup. Recently restaurants also started offering extra fluffy omelets!
3. Hamburger steak (hambagu)
One of the confusing things that I realized in Japan is that the word hambagu doesn't refer to an american style hamburger that is referred to as hambaga but to the Japanese hamburger steak. This beef patty dish was introduced to the world by Germans and is somewhat similar to the Salisbury steak. In the beginning of the 19th century this dish became a popular dish in Japan. Nowadays this is still a very popular dish that can be found in family restaurants like Denny's, Saizeriya and Gusto. The beef patty is served with potato wedges and corn. There are many variations and toppings like mushrooms, vegetable salsa, tomato sauce or demi-glace sauce. Of course, many people like to enjoy this dish with a bowl of rice on the side!
4. Pasta Naepolitan (naporitan or napolitan)
This pasta sounds very Italian but is in fact a Japanese dish named after Naples by the chef who invented it. Inspired by Italian pasta but made with easy cheap ingredients... like ketchup! Italians probably cringe just imagining it but it actually tastes pretty nice and has an interesting sweet flavor to it. Other ingredients used are bell pepper, sausage and ham and topped with powdered cheese. This dish can be eaten at Japanese cafes, family restaurants or it can be made at home!
5. Tonkatsu (pork cutlet)
Fried food is also very popular in Japan, fried shrimps, fried chicken and in this case, fried pork called tonkatsu! They are made by deep frying the pork with bread crumbs. It is served with shredded cabbage and eaten with a unique sauce: tonkatsu sauce! It's inspired by Worcestershire sauce and is very similar to other Japanese sauces like takoyaki and okonomiyaki sauce. And of course Japanese people like to eat Tonkatsu with white rice!
Did you know any of these dishes? Which one would you like to try? Let us know in the comments below!
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