By Yuzuki Iwase
(Japanese translation coming soon.)
Japan has its own unique food culture. Japanese cuisine refers to dishes developed for the Japanese climate and culture. It is prepared according to taste depending on the season. Japanese cuisine was registered as a UNESCO Intangible Cultural Heritage in 2013.
There are many types of vegetables and fruits grown in Japan, as well as many kinds of seafood and seaweed. Most Japanese cuisine is made as a side dish that goes well with rice and sake.
Historically, eating meat was banned and cooking oil had not yet been developed. As a result, "dashi" which is a type of cooking broth that was developed as a seasoning. This broth created a light taste. You can enjoy the original taste of the ingredients because no strong seasoning is used.
There are several types of dashi. The first is bonito dashi. Bonito is a type of fish. The bonito flakes are said to be Japanese soul food, and the bonito dashi that is made from the bonito flakes is the base of Japanese food. It is often used in chawanmushi (steamed egg custard) and sumashi soup (a basic clear soup).
The second is kombu (kelp) dashi, which is used to make kombu soup. Kombu, along with bonito flakes, is a dashi ingredient that is said to be representative of Japanese cuisine.
The last is shitake dashi. Shitake is a variety of edible mushroom native to Asia. The taste of bonito flakes and umami (a pleasant savory taste) are similar, but the aroma is delicate and the flavor is also very savory. There are several other flavors.
Dashi is very important for Japanese food and is easy to make. Please try dashi using various ingredients. You can find many dashi recipes on the Internet.