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UNIQUE JAPANESE FOOD


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Last update August 21, 2011




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食べ物  Food Tabemono [tah-beh-moh-noh]
*: Kanji representation of the food name seldom used in modern day Japan.
 tofu   とうふ, 豆腐
 Pronunciation  [toh・who]
Bean Curd 

tofu A popular soybean product made by coagulating the milk filtered from ground soybeans (tonyu), added with the substance called nigari (a bitter-tasting food additive obtained by removing the salt from the sea water). Aside from hiya yakko (cold tofu consumed with soy sauce and garnishes), the food is cooked in various recipes. Basically, there are two types of the food: momen (lit. cotton) and kinu goshi (lit. silk filtering). Momen dofu is a hard tofu pressed and hardened in a cotton-cloth lined square mold and often used in nabe ryori, nimono, sauté, etc. Kinu goshi dofu features a soft and silky texture (the name is only metaphorical, not suggesting how it is produced) and uses thicker milk, which is added with nigari, then, placed and left in a container until it sets. Kinu goshi is popularly eaten as yudofu (boiled in a clear kombu broth).
(Photo: Kinu goshi served as hiya yakko.)

 tokoroten   ところてん, 心太*
 Pronunciation  [toh・koh・roh・teh・n]
Jelly Noodles  or algae jelly noodles

Tokoroten refers to hard jelly noodles produced by boiling red algae (such as Gelidiaceae) until they melt into water, which is then cooled in a container until it sets. The jelly thus obtained is pushed through the holes of tokoroten tsuki (a grater-like device) to cut into noodles. Served cold, and usually eaten with soy sauce, vinegar and Japanese mustard; or brown syrup depending on the region.

 tonyu   とうにゅう, 豆乳
 Pronunciation  [toh・nyuh--]
Soymilk  or soybean milk

tonyu Tonyu is a middle product of tofu making and refers to the milk obtained through several processes: grinding water-saturated soy beans; boiling them added with water; then, filtering out the lees (okara). Various products are available, in which the strong grass-like smell of crude tonyu is supressed for easy drinking. Recent popular recipes include Tonyu nabe, tonyu cookies and tonyu pudding.

 tsukemono   つけもの, 漬物
 Pronunciation  [two・keh・moh・noh]
Japanese Pickles 

tsukemono Tsukemono (lit. a pickled thing) is the general name for Japanese pickles preserved in tsuke(mono) doko (pickling bed) containing salt, vinegar, rice bran paste, soy sauce, or sake kasu. Takuan is a yellow colored radish tsukemono soaked in rice bran and salt, sometimes flavored with kombu or Japanese chili peppers. Nukazuke is the technique of pickling foods in a fermented rice bran paste; Shibazuke is eggplant pickles marinated with salt and red shiso leaves (a traditional delicacy in Kyoto); asazuke is an instantly pickled tsukemono of vegetables in a seasoned solution for several hours; and Kasuzuke is made of salt-marinated vegetables soaked in sake kasu paste.
(Photo: Asazuke of hakusai or Japanese white cabbage.)

 tsukudani   つくだに, 佃煮
 Pronunciation  [two・coo・dah・knee]
Boiled Down  or soy sauce boiled down preserves

tsukudani Tsukudani is a preserved dish of marine foods such as small fish, shellfish, and seaweeds, boiled down in soy sauce mixed with sugar and mirin, etc. Due to the thick, sweet and salty taste, it can be easily preserved. A variety of products are available in the market. Ikanago no kugini made from Japanese sand lances (Ammodytes personatus) boiled until the broth vaporizes completely and the fishes become like crooked nails (kugi). Kombu, clams, oysters also can make a nice tsukudani product. Other alimentations than seafoods such as shiitake or even locusts may be processed into tsukudani in some regions.
(Photo: Tsukudani of kombu.)

 udon   うどん, 饂飩*
 Pronunciation  [woo・doe・n]
Thick Noodles  or thick wheat noodles

udon Made from brine-kneaded wheat dough, udon is a popular noodle food usually served in a bowl of hot soup. Kitsune (lit. a fox) udon has boiled and seasoned abura age sheets on the top; tempura udon, topped with tempura; nabeyaki udon is served in a nabe (pot), well boiled together with ingredients such as kamaboko, shiitake, tempura, a porched egg, etc. Ankake udon (served in a soup mixed with starch powder paste) and kare udon (in a curry-mixed soup) are some examples of the dazzling array of menus. Region-wise, Sanuki udon is a local product of Kagawa prefecture, renowned for its strong koshi (heavy, resilient chewing feeling), and kishimen specifically denotes flat noodles produced in Nagoya. Ise udon is a specialty of Ise city, Mie prefecture, eaten blended with a thick, rich shoyu-based sauce.

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