Getting introduced to Japanese Food
Rice is usually considered a staple item in Japanese diet. Mocha or rice cakes are common for consumption. Every meal is called “gohan” which means steamed rice. The breakfast meal is called "asa-gohan". Typical Japanese meals will always be accompanied by a bowl of steamed rice. Side dishes are called okazu and are accompanied by soup and rice.
If you are to look out for traditional Japanese breakfast it would consist of steamed rice and miso or soy bean paste soup along with side dishes like grilled fish, pickles, tamagoyaki or rolled omelet, nori or dried seaweed, natto and other items. Noodle and rice dishes are varied for lunch choices. One can opt among choices like gyudon, udon, soba, ramen and other beef dishes. People take bento lunch boxes for lunch at work. Dinner is the main meal of the day. The modern Japanese dishes are nowadays influenced by Asian and Western cuisine.
Japanese-style dishes in the traditional sense are termed as "wa-shoku" where wa means Japanese-style and shoku means food which is to segregate them from Western food generally called "yo-shoku". Chinese dishes are called "chuuka", which are prepared in Japanese-style. Though the dishes are similar to authentic Chinese dishes, there are differences.
Since the country is surrounded by oceans seafood is highly consumed. Thus, fish cakes, fish, clams and seaweed are popular ingredients to be found in Japanese cooking. The Dashi soup stock is used for traditional dishes like katsuobushi and kombu. The common seasonings are mio, mirin, soy sauce and others. These seasonings recipes described at easylifecooking.com.
Though Japan is a small country there are regional specialties as well. There is the food of the Kanto region or the eastern area of the country and the Kansai region food which is the western area. Generally, Kanto food has stronger flavors than Kansai food. Between the two regions many dishes are cooked differently.
Chopsticks are used to eat Japanese-style meals. Depending upon the kind of food being eaten knives, forks and spoons are also used. The traditional way of eating a Japanese food table is to place a bowl of rice on the left and a bowl of miso soup on the right. The other dishes are set around them. The chopsticks are placed on a holder between the rice and the soup bowls.