Kitchen Library, 2013.8.29: Japanese Food

Putting the focus on links about Japanese food, I submit for your approval adorable animal doughnuts, what is and isn’t healthy about “the Japanese diet,” wagashi, and more!

Image via Kotaku.
Image via Kotaku.

Brian Ashcroft. “Oh My Gosh, Japan’s Animal Donuts Are Too Cute.” Kotaku. 9 Aug. 2013. Via Saveur.

I’m not sure how much of this “trend” is just Animal Doughnut of Ikumimama and Floresta (and sometimes Mister Donut) rather than all of Japan, but you have to admit those doughnuts are very cute. (It’s old news, but am I the only one weirded out that kawaii is now in the Oxford English dictionary? On one hand, it’s a specific kind of cuteness, and on the other hand…)

Makiko Itoh. “What’s so healthy about Japanese food?” Just Hungry. 21 Aug. 2013.

Let me shout this article from the rooftops. I loathe the whole “Japanese food is so healthy; American food is terrible for you” refrain repeated by Americans and Japanese alike. Itoh does, too, and in this article, she breaks down the weak and strong points of Japanese food.

My own 2 yen: there is a huge difference between eating a diet of fish, steamed/roasted/grilled vegetables, tofu, brown rice, miso, and the occasional wagashi in portions suited for your lifestyle vs eating heaps of white rice, katsu, shokupan, barely any vegetables or fruit, conbini desserts, packaged foods with added sodium and who knows what, all in large portions with no carry-away boxes. (Do not get me started on the emphasis on dieting rather than exercise.)

Labeling something as “Japanese food” doesn’t magically negate calories, sodium, sugar and fat any more than putting a doughnut on top of a salad does. There’s a lot we can learn from a balanced Japanese-style diet with lots of variety in well prepared vegetables, seaweed, and fruit, but the Japanese diet could certainly use a boost from American-style whole grains (rice AND bread), fresh salads, more fiber, and food labeling.

“Sweet And Savory: Finding Balance On The Japanese Grill.” NPR: The Salt. 18 July 2013.

Harris Salat on yakitori. I’d also point out that the style of grill found in Japanese gas ranges and movens also is quite different than an American oven’s broiler function or backyard charcoal grill, and that also affects what ingredients get cooked how. Also, grilled corn from yatai that use the vacuum-packed unnaturally yellow corn from hell you can get at the grocery year-round is the opposite of good. If the yatai would use fresh corn, it would be heaven.

Jay Friedman. “Snapshots from Tokyo: Eight Japanese Sweets Worth Savoring.” Serious Eats. 13 Aug. 2013.

What I wouldn’t give for a decent wagashiya in Seattle.

The Birth of Sake.  Kickstarter.

Last chance to back this documentary about a nihonshu brewery in Tedorigawa, Ishikawa prefecture!


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