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Japanese Food: Lesson for Kids

Instructor: Shoshana Yarin

Shoshana has taught all grades with an emphasis in science and has a master's degree in science.

Did you ever notice that you can tell a lot about a country by its food? The Japanese take their food pretty seriously, and even consider it a form of art. Read this lesson to find out more about Japanese food.

Preparation

Did you know that in Tokyo, Japan it takes 10 years to become a chef in some restaurants? Preparing the food is what it's all about for Japanese cuisine. Cuisine means a style of food especially related to a particular country. In Japan, the traditional cuisine is called washoku. They use very little spices, like garlic or chili pepper, as they try to bring out the flavors of the food itself.

Japanese Chef at Work
Chef

When you thought about Japanese food, did you picture rice as a main food? Of course rice and rice cakes are prepared in Japan, but noodles and many broths and sauces are as well. Most Japanese food is not fried, because they don't often cook in oil, but maybe you are familiar with one type of deep fried Japanese food called tempura. Mostly they grill, simmer, steam or pickle. (Mmmm, pickles!)

Some Japanese food is eaten raw like sushi. Usually sticky rice is rolled in seaweed with other fresh things and sometimes raw fish. They also use what is ready in season, so the food can differ in different times of the year.

Beef is a fairly new ingredient in Japanese cuisine. Perhaps you have seen or been to a Japanese steakhouse? The chef cooks your meal to order right there at the table!

Presentation

Artistic Japanese Plate of Food
Japanese Plate

Japanese chefs use special knives to create artistic designs in their food. They may also use herbs or flowers to decorate the plate. Usually servings are small, but there might be many courses. A course is one part of a meal, like a soup or a salad. A common general rule is one soup, three vegetables. That sounds pretty healthy! Even the dishes that are used have special meaning. There might be a small dish used for dips and sauces, and of course you probably already pictured a teapot with small tea cups.

What's in the Food?

The main ingredients in Japanese food are rice, grains, vegetables, mushrooms, fish, shellfish and seaweed. There are over 4,000 types of fish from the seas around Japan!

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