Japanese Cuisine as an Intangible Cultural Heritage
-Learn more about the Japanese cuisine-
As everyone knows, Japanese cuisine has been gaining in popularity here in America. In addition to sushi and shabu shabu, a ramen boom has made its way to America. You might think these factors have played a major part in the designation of Japanese cuisine as a UNESCO intangible cultural heritage, but the true reason lies much deeper.
The characteristics of Japanese cuisine can be summarized as follows:
- The use of a variety of fresh ingredients and respect for the inherent flavors of those ingredients
- A nutritious, well-balanced diet
- The expression of the beauty of nature and seasonal changes
- The close association with annual events such as Japanese New Year
Although these qualities are familiar to Japanese people, some things might have been gradually forgotten with the passing of the older generation. With UNESCO’S addition of Japanese cuisine on its Intangible Cultural Heritage list, now may be the time to reflect on the foundation and true meaning of Japanese cuisine.
For starters, we’d like to share with you some original recipes developed by Chef Sugiura, who has been instrumental in the promotion of Japanese cuisine in Japan and America. We hope you’ll enjoy these delicious Japanese dishes, which are part of an intangible cultural heritage.
Here we introduce some delicious local dishes from the Hokuriku region. Their flavors remind us of the heart and soul of Japan.
Saute in Ishiru and Butter Recipe
Ingredients (Serves 1)
- 1 oz. Japanese common squid (cut into rings)
- 1/2 oz. Chinese cabbage, cut into bit-sized pieces
- 1/2 Japanese eggplant, sliced
- 0.2 oz. shungiku (edible chrysanthemum)
- 0.2 oz. enoki mushrooms
- 0.2 oz. carrot, julienned
- 0.2 oz. butter
- 2 Tbsp. ishiru
- 4 tsp. cooking sake (Japanese rice wine)
- 2 tsp. mirin (Japanese sweet cooking rice wine)
- Slice all the vegetables. Place the vegetables and squid on seashells (or in a ceramic pan or pot).
- Pour on the ishiru, and place the butter on top. Cook all the ingredients thoroughly.
Three major fish sauces made in Japan are shottsuru, from Akita Prefecture, ikanago-joyu, from Kagawa Prefecture, and ishiri (or ishiru), from Ishikawa Prefecture. lshiru is prepared by sprinkling unrinsed fish guts with plenry of coarse salt and placing them in a barrel to ferment (without adding any secondary ingredients such as koji (rice malt). to promote fermentation.
Fresh ingredients are prepared in early summer, fermented at high temperature and high humidiry during the peak summer season, and aged in slightly dry, cool air from autumn to winter. By winter, the fish in the barrel has dissolved and become a thick, soy-saucecolored liquid.
After sitting in the barrel for two to three years, the liQuid turns a dark color and its flavor becomes comestible.
Aigamo Jibuni (simmered duck) Recipe
Ingredients (Serves 1)
- 0.7 oz. satoimo (taro)
- 0.4 oz. green beans
- 1.4 oz. duck slices (or chicken slices)
- 0.04 oz. grated wasabi
- Katakuri-ko (potato starch), as needed
- 1 shiitake mushroom
Dashi soup stock:
- 6.8 fl. oz. shiro-dashi stock
- 2 Tbsp. dark soy sauce
- 0.07 oz. sugar
- 1 Tbsp. mirin (Japanese sweet cooking rice wine)
- 1 Tbsp. cooking sake (Japanese rice wine)
- Blanch the green beans and plunge them into icy water to brighten the color.
- Parboil the satoimo, and combine with the ingredients for dashi soup stock. Add the shiitake mushroom and heat.
- Remove the vegetables from (2) and leave the dashi soup in the pot. Slice the duck and dust with katakuri-ko. Simmer the duck slices in the dashi soup until fully cooked.
- Arrange the vegetables, duck slices, and soup in a serving bowl and serve with a garnish of wasabi.
Amadai Wakasa-yaki (grilled tilefish)
Jibuni is a well-known specialty from the historic ciry of Kanazawa.
The origin of jibuni is said to be a European-sryle dish introduced by the Christian samurai warlord Ukon Takayama during his stay in the Kaga domain; Takayama was on friendly terms with the Maeda clan, the ruling Kaga family.
Ingredients are coated in katakuri-ko (potato starch) or flour before being added to soup. This is a common cooking technique in Asia.
Amadai Wakasa-yaki (grilled tilefish) Recipe
Ingredients (Serves 4)
- A half slice of amadai (tilefish)
- 6.8 fl.oz. dashi soup stock
- 6.8 fl.oz. cooking sake (Japanese rice wine)
- 2-1/2 Tbsp. light soy sauce
- 2-1/2 Tbsp. mirin (Japanese sweet cooking rice wine)
- 0.09 oz. kombu (dried kelp)
- Fillet the amadai into 3 pieces and lightly sprinkle with salt. Set aside for about 1 hour.
- Combine the ingredients for the sauce.
- Rinse off the salt on the suriace of 1) with the sauce 2).
- Place the amadai on the grill (or in a conventional oven). When the suriace dries, brush the fish with the sauce 2) and continue to grill. Repeat this 3 to 4 times and then serve.
Wakasa-yaki is a method of grilling fish with a pinch of salt without scraping off the scales. This delicate dish, which can be considered the epitome of Japanese food culture, features a fish known as Wakasa guji. The Japanese name for Wakasa guji is aka-amadai (red tilefish). The name amadai is derived from the sweet taste of its flesh (the character for ama means “sweet”). This white fish is particularly delicious with its plain but savory flavor. However, not all the guji caught off Wakasa bay are called Wakasa guji. First of all, Wakasa guji must be caught with a fishing rod or by haenawa-ryo (long-line fishing). Only the large amadai fish that meet these requirements can be picked and shipped as Wakasa guji. Fish caught in a net are not Qualified to be called Wakasa guji, which is known for its freshness and beautiful appearance.
Eggplant Somen Noodles Recipe
Ingredients (Serves 1)
- 1 Japanese eggplant
- 3-3/4 oz. somen noodles
- A small amount of ginger root
Dashi broth for somen:
- 17 fl.oz. shiro-dashi stock
- 3.4 fl.oz. mirin (Japanese sweet cooking rice wine)
- 3.4 fl.oz. dark soy sauce
- 1.7 fl.oz. cooking sake (Japanese rice wine)
- Cut the eggplant in half and make shallow cuts in the skin.
- In a saucepan, combine all the ingredients for dashi broth and bring to a boil.
- Lightly deep-fry 1) and leave in the broth 2) (about 5 minutes). Set aside in a separate plate.
- Cook the somen noodles in plenty of water they are about 70% done, still al dente. Strain the noodles and simmer in the soup 2) to let the flavor seep into the noodles.
- Arrange the eggplant and noodles in a bowl and serve.
Somen noodles simmered with eggplants are a typical home-cooked dish eaten during the summer in Kanazawa City, Ishikawa Prefecture. The dish is delicious served hot or cold. Sometimes it’s flavored with miso, or cooked according to family-owned recipes. As the somen noodles absorb the liquid, the key is to use a fair amount of dashi broth.
Nanban style chicken Recipe
Nanban has come to mean things of non-Japanese, in particular, European, origin
Ingredients (Serves 4)
- Deep-fried chicken
- 4 chicken breasts
- 1 to 2 eggs
- Salt and pepper, to taste
- Flour, as needed
- Nanban vinegar
- 3 1/2 Tbsp. shoyu (soy sauce)
- 2.8 oz. sugar
- 5 Tbsp. rice vinegar
- 1 to 2 hard-boiled eggs
- 1/4 minced onion
- 2.6 oz. mayonnaise
- 1 tsp. ketchup
- 0.4 oz. minced capers
- Pinch salt
- Pinch pepper
Leave the meat whole or cut into bite sized pieces. Sprinkle salt and pepper on the meat and dredge with flour. Shake off excess flour, dip chicken in beaten egg, and deep fry in 350°F oil.
Bring the ingredients to a boil in a saucepan.
*To enhance flavor, add bits of vegetables to the mix.
Soak the onion in water and then thoroughly drain any moisture. Finely chop the hard-boiled eggs. Add the mayonnaise, ketchup, and capers and adjust the taste with salt and pepper.
Marinate the fried chicken in the nanban vinegar. Pour the tartar sauce over the chicken and serve.
Nanban style chicken originated in Miyazaki Prefecture on the island of Kyushu. It features deep-fried chicken seasoned with nanban vinegar and tartar sauce and is called “tori-nanban.”
Gane (crab in Kagoshima dialect) Recipe
Ingredients (Serves 3-4)
- 3.5 oz sweet potato
- 3.5 oz. burdock
- 3.5 oz. carrot
- 1 egg
- 3.5 oz. flour
- Small quantity of shoyu (soy sauce)
- Small quantity of sugar
- Small quantity of salt
- Peel the sweet potato skin quickly and slice the potato into large strips.
- Slice the burdock and carrots into long thin shavings and soak in water.
- Mix the sweet potato and vegetables 2) with salt and soy sauce.
- Dredge in the flour.
* Add water if the mixture appears to need more moisture.
- Thinly spread 4) with the rice paddle and deep fry in 350°F oil.
In this dish seasonal vegetables such as thiny-sliced sweet potato, burdock, carrot, etc. are mixed with flour,
soy sauce, sugar, and water. The vegetable mixture is then flattened with the paddle of a rice scoop and deep-fried in oil. It is called “gane” (crab) because the fried form looks like a crab with its legs stuck out.
Bonito meshi (bonito rice) Recipe
Ingredients (Serves 1)
- 2 oz. sliced raw bonito
- 1 tsp. white sesame seeds
- 100 ml dark soy sauce
- 80 ml genmaicha (green tea with roasted rice)
- 3 oz. cooked white rice
- Thinly cut the raw bonito into 10g (0.4 oz.) slices.
- Semi-grind the roasted white sesame seeds in a mortar and add the dark soy sauce.
- Marinate 1) in 2) for twenty minutes.
- Place 3) on top of a bowl of cooked white rice, and pour genmaicha over the contents.
* Seaweed, green shiso (Japanese basil), wasabi (Japanese horseradish), arare (roasted mochi pieces), etc. make good condiments for this dish.
It is said that bonito meshi originated at sea with bonito fishermen. After eating freshly caught raw bonito, they put leftover slices of the fish on top of cooked rice and poured hot tea into the bowl.
Oil Miso Recipe
Ingredients (Serves approx. 30)
- 1.8 oz. minced burdock
- 1.8 oz. minced carrot
- Small quantity of salad oil
- 1 oz. sugar
- 7 oz. dark-brown miso (soybean paste)
- 1-1/2 Tbsp. white sesame seeds
- 1 tsp. small dried sardine powder
- Stir-fry the burdock and carrot in the salad oil. Add the sugar.
- Add the dark-brown miso paste and sardine powder and thicken for ten minutes over low heat.
- Sprinkle with the white sesame seeds and serve.
*Adding ground pork and/or sesame oil makes this dish even more delicious.
This easy-to-prepare recipe is a form of home-cooked fast food that satisfies appetites during the busy summer farming season.