Japanese Cuisine: More Than Just Sushi

by joe on August 1, 2011

Have you ever heard someone say, “Japanese food? Not for me – I don’t eat raw fish.” Well, there’s much more to Japanese cuisine than just sushi. Some of the categories of Japanese food are agemono, yakimono, nabemono, and nimono. “Mono” means “thing” or “things” in Japanese, so the above words mean “fried things,” “grilled things,” “one-pot things,” and “stewed things.” You are probably wondering, what sorts of Japanese ingredients are fried, grilled, cooked in a pot, or stewed? Agemono is a delicious, if fattening, dish. You may have eaten tempura, or deep-fried, lightly battered shrimp and vegetables. In Japan, many fish and shellfish are fried as tempura, and they are either served over rice as ten-don or with a side of ponzu sauce and shredded daikon radish. Other fried items include croquettes, pork cutlets (tonkatsu), and kara-age, or fried chicken. Yakimono might include a whole grilled mackerel pike, or bites of grilled chicken on a skewer. The word “yakizakana” refers to grilled fish, while “yakitori” means grilled chicken. At a yakitori bar, you can find much more than grilled chicken breast or thigh; be prepared to find all the exotic parts of the chicken on the menu.

Nabemono is a hearty dish. The meat-based meals of sukiyaki and shabu-shabu appeal to a winter palate. Incidentally, the onomatopoetic word “shabu-shabu” refers to the swishing sound of the cooking meat.) If you are order nimono, you will probably end up with a tasty beef and potato stew. As you can see, there are plenty of cooked foods in Japanese cuisine.

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