Traditional Japanese flavors are versatile and can be applied to many contexts and dishes and be prepared in many forms. There are five main groups of preparation styles and cooking methods in Japanese cooking. Namamono includes foods like vegetable salads and sashimi and means food prepared fresh and eaten in its raw state. Agemono covers dishes like tempura and is food prepared by deep-frying, with emphasis on the soft, flaky quality of panko. Nomono is cooking a dish by simmering it and is the hardest of the methods to master. Yakimono refers to broiled dishes, like chargrilled fish and skewered chicken. Lastly, but certainly not least, is mushimono, meaning steamed, which leads to the most tender and nutrient meats.
These preparation methods can be applied in a very wide range of styles with traditional flavors like miso, one of the most popular and widely used. It is a soybean paste that can be used in broth or as a sauce ingredient. Sakura is another customary Japanese flavoring and it is extracted from cherry blossom flowers – a signature type of foliage in Japan, and is considered the country’s national flower. It is most often used as an ingredient in sweets, like Bokksu’s very own Handmade Sakura Candy! The candy tastes sweet and floral and even has bits of real, dried preserved flower in it! For a digital taste test of twelve of Japan’s most popular and traditional flavorings, check out this article.
Today, though, we are going to switch things up and put a modern twist on some of these established flavors with some cuisine re-mixes. First up, we have Japanese Carbonara. This perfect combination of Japanese and Italian is up any pasta lover’s alley. Fun fact: there is actually a name for Japanese pasta dishes, wafu. This pasta dish is made with the usual carbonara ingredients like eggs, cheese, pepper, and butter, but with a Japanese twist with the addition of fundamental ingredients like sake, miso, dashi, toasted sesame seeds, nori, and a topping of ikura salmon roe. Next up is Kyoto Sloppy Joe – an Asian-style take of an established American favorite. This version stands out with brown buttered crispy panko crumbs, fermented bean paste, soy sauce, and radish as a garnish. The panko crumbs give it a melt-in-your-mouth quality and the satisfying kick the soy sauce gives perfectly rounds out the dish.
You like guacamole, right? If so, we are about to rock your avocado universe with Japanese fusion guacamole. It is a fresh and distinctive variation on the well-known Mexican dip. While the recipe’s delicious spiciness still comes from minced jalapeño peppers, the Japanese version includes wasabi, too, creating a more dynamic kick. Also, instead of cilantro, shiso leaves are used, a green leaf central to Japanese cooking. Lastly, fresh mined ginger root adds in some refreshing sweetness.
For a new and different way to enjoy a lunchtime staple, try a sriracha mayo and chicken onigirazu sandwich. White rice is one of the most primary ingredients or bases of Japanese dishes; it can be found in stir-fries, sushi, and egg dishes, just to name a few. However, this recipe uses it in an unconventional way; it replaces your typical sandwich bread with white rice and an outer wrapping of nori seaweed. Of course, while the filling is totally up to you and your tastebuds, we recommend making it with a sriracha hot sauce & mayo spread, sliced radishes, chicken breast, and a rice wine vinegar sauce. It covers customary Japanese flavor profiles but in an inventive and enjoyable form.
A classic American barbeque dish is ribs, often enjoyed with a hearty and rich BBQ sauce. However, you can add a Japanese twist to it by replacing your regular BBQ sauce with a mix of soy sauce, sesame oil, chili sauce, fresh ginger root, and rice wine vinegar. This is a new Japanese-inspired take on a recognized favorite. It would definitely be an instant hit at your next family get together. It still keeps the delicious fall-off-the-bone quality we all love but adds a unique kick and sweet aftertaste you do not normally get.
There are endless ways to incorporate Japanese ingredients into your favorite dishes. We put this list together so you can hit the ground running, but you can add a Japanese twist to anything you cook just with the addition or replacement of a few ingredients. It’s a great way to remix a go-to meal and make it into something new again. Enjoy your new creations!