Who doesn’t love Japanese food? We at Arigato Japan surely do! Not only is Japanese food delicious, but it is also quite healthy. It’s no wonder Japan has such a low obesity rate as well as one of the highest life expectancies in the world.
The traditional Japanese diet consists of lots of vegetables, seaweed, seafood, and pickled and fermented food, such as miso or natto, which has a high nutritional value. It’s definitely a diet low in calories and full of good nutrients.
To try some of the healthy and tasty Japanese food you don’t have to go to Japan right now, in fact you can try it yourself at home! Let’s explore a couple of delicious and healthy Japanese foods you can add to your cooking regimen.
The shiitake is an edible mushroom that is often used in Japanese cuisine. It is loaded with a rich umami flavor and has a meaty texture. In addition to the sweet, salty, sour, and bitter flavors that we are familiar with, Japanese have a fifth flavor: umami. Umami is like a savory and “deep” flavor, with salty undertones. In addition to its delicious taste, it is also incredibly healthy: low in calories and packed with nutrients such as minerals and vitamins A, C, and D. That is also why it is often used as a meat substitute in vegan dishes. You can find them in your local (Asian) supermarket either fresh or dried.
Looking for a healthy and satisfying meal? Then this mushroom udon soup is IT, a bowl full of goodness that will comfort your body and soul. The handy thing about this meal is that you can go in many directions with it: you can also add meat or other veggies.
Miso is Japan’s traditional seasoning made of fermented soybeans, grains (rice or barley), and salt. The resulting thick paste has a delicious, salty umami flavor. The darker the color of the miso, the longer the fermentation lasted and the stronger the flavor. It is rich in vitamins, calcium, proteins, and iron, and is a delicious and healthy seasoning for soups, stews, sauces, or salads. Thanks to the increasing popularity of miso, you can definitely find it at your local (Asian) supermarket.
The most classic preparation of miso is miso soup. This traditional Japanese dish is eaten at breakfast, lunch, and dinner. Taste it for yourself and be surprised by this complex, delicious ingredient.
Another traditional fermented food is natto. It is also made by fermenting soybeans. Opinions on natto are divided, while some find it great, others do not like it because of its powerful smell, strong taste, and sticky, slimy texture. What is certain is that natto is super healthy: full of fiber, probiotics, vitamins, and protein. A serving of natto contains as much protein as an equal amount of beef, but with much fewer calories. It can be served as a side dish or as a meal. For example, natto with steamed Japanese rice and chopped green onions is a popular breakfast dish. Check out this Natto Breakfast Bowl recipe for a tasty and nutritious meal. With a bit of patience, you can make natto yourself, otherwise, you should visit your local Asian supermarket.
You have probably seen it at the supermarket or in Japanese restaurants: seaweed salad. Did you already know that these “veggies from the sea” are full of good nutrients? They contain lots of vitamins, minerals, iron, and plenty of others. There are different types of seaweed of course, and you can use them in different dishes. For example, nori is used for sushi, kombu for dashi broth, hijiki for salads, and wakame is reserved for salads and miso soup.
Ready to try something new? Try this refreshing seaweed salad and enjoy a special, healthy side dish.
Takenoko (bamboo shoots) are crispy, tender, juicy, and sweet, and on top of that: full of health benefits. In Japan, you can find them fresh during the spring. Nowadays, they can be found pre-cooked all over the world and all year round in your local Asian grocery store. How about you try this spring delicacy for yourself in a yummy vegan rice dish? You can try to make this Takenoko Bamboo shoot rice yourself at home. It works perfectly as a side dish, or you can add meat and it transforms into a delicious meal.
Tofu and soba noodles
Last but not least, we have tofu and soba. Two popular Japanese foods that are delicious on their own but even more tasty together. Tofu is a high-protein and low-calorie meat substitute made from soy milk. You can use tofu in many different ways, both hot ( whether that be baking, frying, grilling, boiling, stir-frying, steaming, or stewing it), and cold.
Japan has a wide variety of noodles, one of which is soba. Since soba noodles are made of buckwheat flour and wheat flour, they have a slightly darker, greyish color. They have a wonderful nutty flavor and are low in carbohydrates. Additionally, the noodles contain many amino acids, which are good for your health. Soba noodles are served both hot and cold.
You can do so much with these two ingredients. Looking for a meatless meal? Then try to make this easy, delicious tofu soba noodle dish. Both Japanese ingredients are easy to find in your local (Asian) supermarket.
Eating healthy and making healthy food is easier than you think. The Japanese foods mentioned above are tasty and you can use them in countless dishes. It also doesn’t matter where you live, since you can easily find them in your local (Asian) supermarket or grocery store. Try them yourself at home and a world of delicious dishes opens up to you. ITADAKIMASU (いただきます)!