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What Does Japanese Food Entail?
The main dishes you can expect when eating Japanese cuisine are rice dishes and noodle dishes, as rice has been a staple for the Japanese people for thousands of years. Because of the rather defining simple and plain nature of Japanese cuisine, its foods and ingredients can be easily prepared and eaten at any meal. For example, often rice is eaten plain for breakfast, but then for lunch or dinner items it is mixed with vegetables, or meat. In addition to rice and noodles, popular dishes include soybeans, yoshosku or Westernized foods, hot dishes such as nabe, and seafood.
Sushi and Sashimi
Sushi is one of the most commonly recognized Japanese foods, and its popularity among Americans today is ever increasing. Sushi is not merely raw fish, the way it has been described sometimes, but rather a combination of seafood, rice, and vegetable products. The term ‘sushi’ actually refers to the rice in the dish, but it has come to be associated with the fish and shellfish component of the meal.
Sashimi is the fish (it can be served either raw or cooked) that is served with the sushi rice, and it can be eaten in a number of ways, for example in a rice bowl, or with fillets of fish atop layers of rice. Oftentimes sushi and sashimi are rolled in seaweed (called nori) and eaten in the form of maki rolls. To accent the flavors of sushi and sashimi, the Japanese often eat these dishes with spices like wasabi and special soy sauces.
What are the Health Benefits of Eating Japanese Food?
Japanese cooks tend to rely on what ingredients and foods are most available during the current season, which allows them to use the freshest ingredients. Western culture on the other hand, relies on foods that often need to be preserved, mainly for convenience, which is not always healthy. By eating the freshest ingredients, one’s body is then able to absorb the food’s natural nutrients and vitamins without having to process any added preservatives or chemicals.
Japanese foods also include a lot of soybean dishes, either through using the beans alone or bean byproducts such as tofu and miso soup. Soybeans have been proven to be excellent for your health for a variety of reasons. They have high protein contents, and are rich in essential fatty acids and nutrients. Though their protein levels are similar to those of meat products, soybeans are actually proven to lower your cholesterol levels (where as animal products, even lean meat, can raise them), which can also help keep blood pressure levels in the healthy range.
In addition to the foods themselves, the manner in which Japanese food is served is also healthy for you. Meals tend to be small, with usually one main dish of rice or noodles, served with one or two smaller side dishes of seafood, meat, or vegetables. Rather than eating one plate with large amounts of food, you can eat smaller bowls and help avoid overeating. Using chopsticks helps this as well, because when you eat slower than you would if using utensils like forks and spoons. Because it takes time for your stomach to signal you are full, eating slower with chopsticks gives your digestive system the time it needs to react and you avoid eating more than you need to.