Japanese cuisine has historically been influenced by the Chinese culture, and often filtered through Korea. It has a strong connection to the sea and fishing cultures as well, yet maintains its own cultural and aesthetic identity. Japan as a nation was virtually closed off to the rest of the world until the mid nineteenth century. There are many culinary influences that helped to create the Japanese cuisine we see today. It has been transformed for centuries. Some of the influences on Japan's cuisine
Vegetarian Buddhist monks had significant influence on the Japanese cuisine, as did Imperial court cooking that centered around Kyoto's old capital. Kaiseki cuisine developed from ritualized tea ceremonies which showcases elaborate bite sized items. Sixteenth century Portuguese brought techniques like tempura, which is wheat flour dredged and deep fried items. Europeans may have had some of the influence of the beef we see in Japanese cuisine, which is relatively new to them. Japanese noodles have been influenced by the Chinese as a general rule. The Japanese during their fifty year occupation turned Taiwan into a major food supplier to Japan as well as off-loading a considerable amount of their own foodstuffs and eating habits onto Taiwan. Japanese Influence While Japanese cuisine has had a big influence in Taiwan, Taiwanese cuisine clearly belongs to the Chinese food tradition. Some Japanese influences, such as popularity of sashimi and sushi are obvious, others blend in and are more difficult to recognize. Japanese restaurants, both "authentic" and Taiwan-style are very common. Cooking wine - Few dishes are cooked without rice wine and it is here that Japanese influence is very pervasive. Unlike the mainland, Taiwanese cooks rarely use yellow wine (shaoxing-style wine). The standard cooking wine in Taiwan is a clear light rice wine, very similar to mirin, the Japanese cooking wine, though less salty. Taiwan rice wine is much less distinctive in taste than yellow wine and has the effect of lightening the flavor of the food in comparison. Sashimi commonly served in Japanese and in Chinese restaurants. Sushi As above.
Miso / Miso soup As above.
Seaweed Coastal Chinese eat seaweed but it is the Japanese who take it to the level of an art form, and this seems to have carried over somewhat to Taiwan. Teppanyaki grills are common, though usually highly localized, most obviously by adding lashings of minced garlic and chili to most dishes. Taiwanese tempura (tian bu la) this seems to be inspired by the Japanese cooking style tempura, though with major Taiwanese characteristics, the most obvious being, that not all of the foods are battered. I call it Taiwan fish and chips. It is sold be roadside deep fry stands which offer up a whole range of foods with fresh basil leaves, then powder the whole lot with a salt and pepper mixture and chili powder if you want. Items include: chicken pieces, dried tofu, string beans, sweet potato chips, potato chips, pig's blood/rice cake, squid, fish balls, Curry - An insipidly mild curry that always includes potato, often chicken, seems to have come via Japan. Japanese-style chopsticks Japanese chopsticks are shorter and have pointed ends. They function better than Chinese chopsticks which seem clunky in comparison. Pillars of Japanese Cuisine
The Power of Five
the number five is considered important in Japanese culture, and this extends to its food traditions as well. They form the basis of concepts that have been in place for centuries. I believe that following the guidelines of the “Power of Five” listed below can do more for improving your health and cooking skills than following recipes or diets. Even though many young Japanese don’t know the origin of these rules, nor can even recite them, the habit is ingrained in the culture to such an extent that it just comes naturally. If a set meal is ordered at a restaurant and something is missing, for instance, people...
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