Shush, more to life than sushi

2010-03-13 12:01

IF YOU’VE had your fill of ­sushi or if you just don’t like rice that much, don’t despair there are still plenty of delicious morsels on the menu ­including soups with an array of flavourings, noodle dishes and tempura, which is proof that if you deep fry anything in batter it’s ­yummy.

Stretching back to antiquity, rice has been the staple food of the Japanese, but noodles have grown in popularity and now Udon, Ramen and Soba are as much a part of the island nation’s cuisine as raw fish.

Just like all food, the eating habits of Japan have changed as political regimes and fashions have.

At one time chopsticks were reserved for only the posh and for eating with at fancy state ceremonies, while the peasants ate with their hands. They were popularized among the poorer classes by the Chinese in the 8th century.

Now chopsticks are considered an integral part of any Japanese ­eating experience – in fact asking for a fork is a no-no.

Similarly, tempura is considered to be authentically Japanese, but it was borrowed from the Portuguese in the 16th century. The batter makes use of ice cold water, sometimes sparkling, and cake flour which gives it its lightness, making it a far cry from the beer-batter ­Westerners splatter over their hake.

The emphasis in Japanese cuisine is on seasonality and freshness. Most of the dishes are light, even if they include heaps of rice, the starch is off-set by the salty, vinegary sauces and broths that come with it.

The three common Japanese flavours at any meal are soy sauce (made by fermenting soybeans with particular moulds), miso (paste made by fermenting rice, barley and soybeans with salt and particular fungi) and dashi (broth made from seaweed and skipjack tuna flakes or sardines or shitake mushrooms), and pretty much any concoction can be given Japanese flair with the ­addition of these.

Miso soup is another favourite food made with dashi and miso, the solid elements are then ideally ­chosen for a variety of texture, ­colour and flavour – among the ­ingredients are seaweed and beancurd. The idea is that some float, some sink, some are soft, some need chewing – making miso soup a bit like a dinnertime treasure hunt.

Noodle dishes include an array of different fresh ingredients – bok choy, bean sprouts, chicken, prawns and then the noodles all in a broth flavoured with a combination of soy, miso and dashi. Often dishes are topped off with a boiled egg, which adds yet more texture, colour and flavour.

So the next time you are faced with a gaudy coloured, perfectly styled sushi and sashimi menu that you can’t stomach, order something equally Japanese from the part of the menu with no pictures.

Join the conversation! encourages commentary submitted via MyNews24. Contributions of 200 words or more will be considered for publication.

We reserve editorial discretion to decide what will be published.
Read our comments policy for guidelines on contributions. publishes all comments posted on articles provided that they adhere to our Comments Policy. Should you wish to report a comment for editorial review, please do so by clicking the 'Report Comment' button to the right of each comment.

Comment on this story
Comments have been closed for this article.

Inside News24

Traffic Alerts
There are new stories on the homepage. Click here to see them.


Create Profile

Creating your profile will enable you to submit photos and stories to get published on News24.

Please provide a username for your profile page:

This username must be unique, cannot be edited and will be used in the URL to your profile page across the entire network.


Location Settings

News24 allows you to edit the display of certain components based on a location. If you wish to personalise the page based on your preferences, please select a location for each component and click "Submit" in order for the changes to take affect.

Facebook Sign-In

Hi News addict,

Join the News24 Community to be involved in breaking the news.

Log in with Facebook to comment and personalise news, weather and listings.