Ask Boichi about Food 5 – If you don’t like seafood
Taking the sea out of Japanese food
There is so much I would like to talk to you about but first, is there any food that a picky, non seafood eating, American. Can eat in Japan? Anthony Rodriguez
Dear Anthony Rodriguez,
Thanks for asking such an interesting and nice question.
Don’t hesitate to ask me what you’d like to know, and if you have something to tell me please do so.
I’m always open for you!
It is not easy to completely avoid seafood in Japanese cuisine.
That’s because two out of the three most importants basic ingredients making up the Japanese cuisine’s flavor comes from the ocean.
Those tree basic ingredients of Japanese flavor are Soybean, Konbu and Katsuobushi.
Soy sauce and Miso are made from soy bean, Katsuobush is made from dried and smoked tuna fish while konbu is dried seaweed.
The soup made from these three ingredients is called “Dasi” and is the basic to Japanese’s taste.
That’s why it’s very difficult to find good food devoid of seafood in Japan!!!
Therefore, if you are okay to eat food with dasi made from Konbu and Katsuobushi then I would like to recommend some delicious Japanese food that I personally love to eat.
Shabu-Shabu and Sukiyaki
My first recommendation is Shabu-Shabu and Sukiyaki made with Japanese black Wagyu beef.
This is some really expensive meat but the beef is very soft and magnificently marbled.
The key point of wagyu shabu-shabu is to eat a bit of beef with lots of vegetables.
The black Wagyu beef is very tasty, but it’s incredibly rich in fat, making you easily tired.
Plus it also makes your wallets gets thinner.
My advice is to eat a lot of vegetables with a just few pieces of fine Wagyu. It’s good for your health and will save you some money.
Of course you can go to any shabu-shabu restaurants in Tokyo and order from their menus.
It’s not bad for the price. No, actually it is pretty good. But that is because the artificial sauce and dasi trick your tongue.
Sweetness of sugar, konbu, and katsuobushi are tricking your sense of taste. Not beef or vegetables.
(But to tell you the truth, most of the cheaper restaurants never serve good sauce and dasi.)
Here’s the Shabu-shabu buffet near my studio. If you want to eat less meat but eat lot of vegetables then this is a good place for your diet.
There is a Japanese style western cuisine called “Yoshoku” in Japan.
It’s the western cuisine born and developed in Japan.
Since the Meiji Restoration, it has been influenced by British cuisine and after the Second World War; it grew its own originality under the influence of French and American cuisine.
This type of cuisine can be free from konbu and katsuobushi.
At the old-fashioned Yoshoku restaurants in Tokyo, you can enjoy hamburger steak, Omurice (omelet), beef steak and curry rice.
I believe that you can enjoy the unique taste, atmosphere and Japanese style service of Western cuisine.
Teppanyaki is a very unique form in Yoshoku style.
This style of cuisine is now very popular in China and spreading in Europe.
When I asked the chef of the Teppanyaki house I know, he told me that he had lot of guests from North America and Europe.
I would also recommend you Japanese noodle dishes.
There are noodle dishes such as “Udon” and “Soba“.
Udon is made of flour while Soba is made of buckwheat.
You can enjoy the flavor of artisanship of Japanese cuisine at an affordable price.
However, I’m afraid that most noodle dishes will be using seafood for soup and sauce.
I have heard that Ramen is getting popular around the world.
Is it popular in US too?
When I visited Italy, the editors there told me those ramen houses are spreading around in Italy and Europe.
There are some Ramen with seafood, but generally chicken and pork stock are the basic ingredient.
There are various ramen in Japan and each ramen houses have their own always changing and developing flavor.
Very delicious and the cheap price is an advantage of ramen.
There are popular Street foods called Okonomiyaki and Yakisoba which can be said the taste of Osaka.
Their flavorful sauce is Worcestershire sauce from England but Japanese Worcestershire sauce is a little bit different from the original.
Much sweeter and sourer.
However, most Okonomiyaku and Yakisoba often use seafood ingredients such as shrimp, and octopus, so you should carefully choose the menu when you order Okonomiyaki.