JAPAN

Flag of Japan.svg
The flag of Japan is officially called the Flag of Sun (Nisshoki) but is more commonly known as the Circle of the Sun (Hinomaru). It embodies the country’s sobriquet: the Land of the Rising Sun.
COUNTRYJAPAN
DishesSushi, Ramen
Time 1.5 hrs
Effort 6/10
Rough cost £7
COUNTRY JAPAN
Capital Tokyo
Population 125,502,000 (11th largest)
Land mass 377,975 km2 (62nd largest)
Languages Japanese
Religions

FOOD FOR THOUGHT

Japan is an island nation located in the northwest Pacific Ocean bordered by the Sea of Japan, the Sea of Okhotsk, the East China Sea and the Philippine Sea. Japan is part of the Ring of Fire which spans an archipelago of 6852 islands. Despite its disparate geography, Japan is one of the most densely populated and urbanised countries in the world, as Japan’s mountainous terrain concentrates its population of 125 million onto the narrow coastal plains.

The Japanese archipelago has been inhabited since the Upper Paleolithic period in 30,000 BC. Japan’s rich ancient history dates back to the 2nd cent. AD with kingdoms ruled by emperors, samurai (warrior nobility), shogun (military dictators) and daimyo (feudal lords). The Empire of Japan adopted a Western-modelled constitution in the late 19th century, pursuing a program of industrialisation and modernisation which culminated in Japan’s involvement in WWII.

In the aftermath of the war, Japan experienced record economic growth and to this day Japan is still an influential world power. As of 2021, Japan’s economy is the 3rd largest by nominal GDP, and the country ranks very highly on the Human Development Index. The country also has one of the world’s highest life expectancies which can be attributed in part to the nation’s typical healthy unprocessed diet of rice and noodles, fish, veggies, and broths. Fun food fact: Tokyo is the city with the most 3-Michelin-starred restaurants in the world. Mwara made the absolute classic sushi, which is Bee’s favourite food but as I was more limited for ingredients, I made vegan ramen. Sushi requires a good amount of time to nail the rice to perfection but the ramen will be ready in no time at all and the broth tastes incredible cold the next day.

RECIPES

Ramen *vegan

INGREDIENTS

  • 700ml veg stock
  • 3 garlic cloves, finely chopped
  • 1 chunk of ginger, finely chopped
  • 1 red chilli, finely chopped
  • 4 tbsp soy sauce
  • 1/2 tsp five spice
  • 1 tsp white sugar
  • toppings: tofu (coated in cornstarch and fried), spring onions, mushrooms, carrot ribbons, beansprouts
  • optional: 1 tsp miso paste, pinch of chilli powder

METHOD

  1. Mix the veg stock, garlic cloves, soy sauce, ginger, five spice, chilli powder and 300ml water in a large saucepan, bring to the boil, then reduce the heat and simmer for 5 mins. Then keep warm until you are ready to eat.
  2. Taste the stock and then add in 1 tsp white sugar or a little more soy sauce to make it sweeter / saltier depending on your liking.
  3. Prepare the ramen noodles following the pack instructions. Prepare the toppings that you would like to use (there are so many options here).
  4. To serve the ramen, divide the noodles between the bowls and arrange your ingredients aesthetically in top. Then divide the stock and pour over the top with or without draining (I prefer to keep all the garlicky-chilli goodness). Top with spring onions and enjoy!

Sushi

INGREDIENTS

Sushi Rice

  • 300g sushi rice
  • 390 ml water
  • 100ml rice wine vinegar
  • 2 tbsp caster sugar

Sushi (you will need a bamboo roll mat)

  • Nori sheets
  • Wasabi
  • Pickled ginger
  • Sashimi (tuna, salmon), sliced
  • Sliced veggies: carrots, spring onions, peppers, baby corn, cucumber, avocado
  • Tofu, sliced
  • Omlette, sliced
  • *really whatever you like!

METHOD

  1. To make the rice, start by soaking the grains in a large bowl until the water becomes cloudy with starch. Then drain and repeat this process 3 – 5 times until the water remains clear. Soak the rice for a final 30 minutes and then drain.
  2. The next step is to bring the rice to the boil in 390ml of cold water. Then turn down the heat and let the rice simmer for 15-20 minutes with the lid on. Then remove from the heat and let the rice steam for 15 minutes.
  3. Now mix the rice wine vinegar and sugar together well and then mix this through the cooled rice.
  4. Once the rice is ready and all your fillings are assembled, it is time to get rolling!
  5. Have a bowl of water ready for moistening your fingertips. Place a sheet of nori shiny-side down on the bamboo mat and using damp hands push a thin even layer of rice across half of the nori sheet. Then put some filling horizontally in the middle of the rice. Do not overfill at this stage as it will make rolling harder.
  6. To roll, get a tight grip on the end of the mat and make one initial roll over the filling to form a cylinder and so that all you can see is nori. Use some water to moisten the rest of the nori and then tightly roll up the rest of the roll (or cut off the excess nori). Use a sharp knife to cut the roll into bite-sized chunks and serve dipped in soy sauce with wasabi and ginger!

p.s., there are so many ways to make sushi and so many different types so please have a research and enjoy!

Arigatō and see you in Jordan! M + B x

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