Cultured Palate: Dishes from Japan

There are plenty of reasons to visit Japan — the amazing history and culture, the bustling urban spaces, and the gorgeous countryside. While many people visit knowing nothing about the food culture in Japan and still have a great time, a good way to plan for your trip is to learn about the many types of Japanese foods available, and where to find the best examples of each dish. Many people think of sushi when they picture Japanese food, but there is much more that defines traditional cuisine. From haute kaiseki cuisine to street food, there are plenty of options for every palate and budget. Check out a few key dishes below.

1. Miso Soup

Most meals at Japanese restaurants in North America begin with miso soup, and it’s truly one of the most ubiquitous dishes in Japanese cuisine. The base is made of miso  (fermented soybean) paste, stirred into a broth made of dashi stock. Then, different ingredients are added which reflect both the season and the taste of the chef. Some commons additions are tofu cubes, daikon, mushroom, or wakame seaweed. Ideally, the additional ingredients are a mix of things that float, like seaweed, and sink, such as potato. In Japan, miso soup and white rice are traditionally eaten for breakfast.

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