Soba to Sukiyaki: A Roundup of Authentic Japanese Dishes

I've talked about Japanese cooking quite often here on The Kitchn. It is one of my favorite cuisines, and although I do enjoy eating out in restaurants now and then, I can't afford to do it every night. I started teaching myself Japanese cooking for several reasons. One, to know how to do it myself and save money on eating out. Two, to help me understand both the cuisine and the culture - I strongly believe one of the best ways to learn about a culture is through its food. Here is a roundup of the Japanese dishes I've posted about here on The Kitchn.

Appetizers:
Takoyaki - delicious street food made of a flour batter filled with octopus and seasonings, and fried.
Pork Gyozas - little pot stickers of thin dough sheets filled with yummy pork and garlic, and then fried.

Soups:
Dashi - the basic soup stock for many Japanese dishes, made from dried kelp and bonito.
Dobin Mushi, a clear soup with mushroom, ginkgo nuts, seafood, and meat, and served in a special teapot. Accompanied with yuzu.

Noodles:
Soba noodles - thin noodles made with buckwheat flour and dipped in soy sauce. Traditionally served on New Year's Day.

Hotpots:
Nabemono, a heart hotpot filled with meats, seafood, and assorted vegetables
Sukiyaki, a savory hotpot cooked in a shallow iron dish tableside. Meats, vegetables, and noodles are added, and the sauce is thickened to a gravy-like consistency.
Oden, a hearty winter stew with potatoes, fish cakes, and assorted seafood.

Other Dishes:
Buta no Kakuni, a dish of pork belly that is slow-braised in a mixture of soy sauce, fish sauce, sake, and dashi for three hours until it falls apart.
Okonomiyaki - a savory and filling Japanese pancake filled with your choice of meats, seafood, and vegetables. Cooked on a griddle and topped with mayonnaise, fish flakes, seaweed, and okonomi sauce. Try it!
Simmered Kabocha - the Japanese way to cook a winter squash.
Yakikuri gohan - rice and chestnuts cooked together with soy sauce and sake.
Matsutake gohan - rice cooked with matsutake mushrooms and ginkgo nuts.

Pickles:
Japanese pickled cucumber - a very easy to make palate cleanser.

Sweets:
Dango - sweet rice flour balls that are grilled and topped with a sweet sauce.

Beverages:
Umeshu - make your own plum wine. It is super easy.

(Images: Kathryn Hill and Kirk McKoy/LA Times)

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