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UNIQUE JAPANESE FOOD


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Last update July 26, 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.
 bota mochi   ぼたもち, 牡丹餅
 Pronunciation  [boh・tah・moh・chee]
Peony Rice Cake  or a rice dumpling covered with sweet bean paste or soybean powder

ohagi/botamochi Substantially denoting the similar thing as ohagi, it's a sweet glutinous rice dumpling covered with an or kinako. Bota (or Botan) is the Japanese name for spring peony flowers, and the bota mochi usually refers to those prepared at the occation of the spring Higan, the period around the equinox in which people remember their deceased family members by offering this sweet to them. To contrast this, those prepared at the autumnal Higan (or equinox season) are called ohagi (hagi: Japanese bush clover flowers in autumn).
(Photo: Bota mochi with an.)

 chikuwa   ちゃ, 茶
 Pronunciation  [chah]
Japanese Tea

cha Cha or ocha (o-: an prefix indicating politeness) is the generic term for drinks based on various processed plant organs and served with hot water. Ryoku cha (green tea) is made from young tea leaves without fermentation process and includes maccha: used for tea ceremonies and sen cha. The first-class sen cha category is called gyokuro, which uses special tea leaves grown under limited sunshine and features enhanced mellowness. Genmai cha refers to ban cha (tea using late tea leaves) mixed with parched unpolished rice grains; hoji cha, roasted ban cha; mugi cha and soba cha are made from barley and soba grains respectively.
(Photo: Sen cha served in yunomi: a Japanese tea cup.)

 chikuwa   ちくわ, 竹輪
 Pronunciation  [chee・coo・wah]
Bamboo Fish Sausage  or a fish paste tube

chikuwa With the resemblance to a cut-out bamboo tree, the name comprises the words chiku (bamboo) and wa (a ring). It's produced from ground fish flesh, which is wrapped around a bamboo or metal stick/rod for baking and steaming. When the process is done, the stick (rod) is removed to make a tube-like shape. Can be enjoyed without any further cooking: Simply inserting a vegetable stick (e.g. cucumber or carrot) inside it and cutting it into chunks make a nice, quick hors d'oeuvre. Can also be added in various dishes such as oden, chirashi-zushi (sushi rice mixed with minced ingredients) or udon.
(Photo: Boiled chikuwa cut in half.)

 chimaki   ちまき, 粽*
 Pronunciation  [chee・mah・key]
Bamboo Leaf Cake  or a bamboo-leave wrapped rice cake

With its origin dating back to the ancient China, chimaki was introduced to Japan around the Heian period (794 - 1192). It's rice cake or glutinous rice, shaped into a triangle, and steamed or boiled after wrapped with a bamboo leaf. The rice inside is often mixed with other minced ingredients such as vegetables and mushrooms. Served with the leaf wrapping and removed when eating. A popular feast consumed on the Children's Day in Japan (May 5th).

 chirimen jako   ちりめんじゃこ, 縮緬雑魚*
 Pronunciation  [chee・ree・meh・n・jah・koh]
Fish Sprinkles  or dried juvenile fishes

chirimenjako Also simply called jako, it's a bulk of white tiny young fishes salted and well-dried. Alone, it makes a good topping for hot white rice, or can be blended with other ingredients in a vegetable or seaweed salad, or omelet. Named after chirimen, the textile woven to create many small crinkles, which resembles dried small fishes. Similar dried baby fish product (technically less dried than this) may be categorized as shirasu boshi (white dried fish).

 daifuku mochi   だいふくもち, 大福餅
 Pronunciation  [dah・ee・who・coo・moh・chee]
Big Fortune Rice Cake  or a rice cake with sweet bean paste filling

daifuku Literally meaning "big fortune mochi", daifuku mochi is a generic name for the kind of soft rice cake covered with katakuri ko (starch powder) and filled with sweet azuki bean paste (an). As a modern day variation of its kind, there is ichigo daifuku, with a strawberry (ichigo) placed inside the rice cake and an layers, which creates a fascinating harmony of sweet and sour tastes.

 daikon oroshi   だいこんおろし, 大根おろし
 Pronunciation  [dah・ee・koh・n・oh・roh・she]
Radish Sauce  or grated radish condiment

daikon oroshi Daikon oroshi is grated daikon or Japanese radish, and can be consumed as a condiment for tempura dip sauce, or baked fish (e.g. saury). Grating is an easy way to enjoy daikon's peculiar juicy sweetish and spicy taste, and Daikon oroshi blended with shoyu (soy sauce) or ponzu (soy sauce blended with citrus vinegar) alone makes a nice accompaniment to hot rice. Also used to prepare momiji oroshi.
(Photo: Daikon oroshi lightly squeezed for a condiment.)

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