The Genealogy of Cooking,Japanese Cuisine
Full-course Japanese cuisine has three traditional types, "honzen ryori",
an assortment of dishes served on legged trays at formal banquets, "chakaiseki
ryori", served before the tea ceremony;
and "kaiseki ryori", party dishes, often served at "ryotei
(high-class Japanese restaurants)". Also "osechi ryori", served
on important feast days like New Year and "shojin ryori", Buddhist
vegetarian dishes. The main ingredients in Japanese cooking are seafood, vegetables
and rice. Raw seafood cut with a very sharp knife has long been a distinguishing
feature of native cuisine. Principal seasonings are fermented soybean and
rice products, such as "shoyu (soy sauce)", "miso (soybean
paste)", "sake", vinegar and "mirin (sweet sake)".
To preserve the natural flavors of ingredients, strong spices are avoided
in favor of milder herbs and spices, such as "kinome (aromatic sprigs
of the tree known as sansho)", "yuzu (citron)", "wasabi
(Japanese horseradish)", "myoga (ginger)", and dried and ground
"sansho" seeds. Food is arranged on plates or in bowls in a manner
that harmonizes colors and textures that accord with the season of the year,
for example, glass and bamboo are considered appropriate for summer. Contrasting
shapes, sizes and patterns are used to achieve an aesthetic balance between
food and receptacles in order to please the eye and stimulate the appetite.
Japanese cooking characteristically tends to assimilate foreign recipes. Selection
and rejection of ingredients has resulted in Japanese style Western and Chinese
cooking. "Dashi (a soup stock)", made with "kombu (seaweed
known as sea tangle)" and "katsuobushi (dried bonito-fillet)"
shavings, is the basis of all Japanese cooking. First, about 30 grams (1 oz)
of "kombu" in a liter of water is brought to the boil over a medium
flame. The "komubu" is removed just before it boils and a small
amount of water and about 30 grams (1 oz) of bonito shavings are added. When
it boils the pot is removed from the flame and the surface is skimmed off.
After the bonito shavings have sunk to the bottom, the contents are strained
through cheesecloth. Stocks made from fish or chicken bones, "niboshi
(dried sardines)", or "kombu" and dried mushrooms are also
used. Powdered instant stock is also widely utilized.