Traditional Japanese food, also know as ‘washoku’ is known for its diversity as well as being healthy and delicious. Washoku literally means ‘harmony food’ and this is its essence, the harmonious blending of different ingredients creating a dish that is both delicious and health conscious. Washoku has been designated a UNESCO Intangible Cultural Heritage recently for its long history of social customs that have been passed down for centuries. Washoku is characterized by its use of seasonal ingredients and using minimal seasoning to keep the delicate flavors intact. Aesthetics and colors of the dishes are also considered, reflecting the natural surroundings of the season.
Japan has four seasons and each season will see a different palette of flavors and even cooking techniques. During the spring and summer when many vegetables become available, you will see lighter dishes and colors reflecting this. During the colder months as produce like root vegetables become available, dishes like simmered stews will often be cooked at home. A typical washoku meal consists of a bowl of steamed rice, the staple dish of Japan, accompanied by fish and vegetable side dishes, pickles and soup. The focus of this is to create a balance throughout the meal, careful not to let flavors overpower each other but to enjoy the natural flavor nature has to offer. Washoku often plays an important role during special holidays like New Year when specific dishes are created with the available ingredients symbolizing happiness and fortune.
Be sure to join our class and learn the how to create your own balanced washoku meal!