Japan is probably the country with THE most amazing, delicious and beautiful food (at least for me). But besides the refined taste sushi and hearty Ramen soups, the classic sweets and cute desserts, there are quite some food items, which are seriously weird and my taste buds need(ed) at least several tries to get used to the taste and / or texture. For sure there are things I might never get used to… who knows… but I’ll give every recommended dish at least a try.
Kurage (Jelly fish)
Let’s start with the dishes I’m not too keen to repeat eating… ever. And this jelly fish salad is one of them. With salad I don’t actually mean salad, but small stripes of jelly fish in Ponzu sauce, which is a sour vinegary sauce. The taste wasn’t too much of a problem, but the texture was honestly not my thing. It’s a little bit like a mixture softer cartilage, something crunchy and agarose… to sum up, there is no such texture in Germany.
Yaki-torihada (fried chicken skin)
This actually doesn’t sound too bad right…? Wrong! It would be probably nice, if it would have been fried to a point, when it becomes crispy, but in my case it was just gummy-like and quite hard to chew, although the taste was good (Well nothing special, just like fried chicken with onions).
Chicken nankotsu (deep-fried chicken cartilage)
Like the two items before, it’s not about the taste, but the haptic that I didn’t like. Have you ever eaten the cartilage of a chicken drum stick? No? Me neither and for a good reason. I just don’t like how it feels, when you bite it and it crushes between your teeth and feels like gummy at the same time. Deep-fried makes everything better, they say… and it’s true. Deep-fried cartilage is not that nasty and I would probably eat it again… if it would save my live! This item ranges more towards the spectrum of “Someday I might get used to it”.
Sorry to be so negative until here, but honestly from now on I will tell you about the good things! Or let’s say the things I liked and found interesting to try.
Umeboshi Onigiri (sour-pickled plum in rice balls)
This is my new go-to item for the healthy version of a snack in between. The taste of umeboshi is quite strong and combines sour with salty, which is not a common thing in Germany. But with the white rice and the nori (dried seaweed) it is nicely balanced and serves as a good snack. Especially when you don’t feel like eating a heavy and greasy dish! Very nice and my recommendation, if you feel like trying a new food item in Japan!
Natto (fermented soybeans)
This is probably the most discussed item between its lovers and haters. You can’t really be neutral about it, but if you’re not sure, I suggest you try it at least a few times. This dish even divides Japanese people, although I found that the more north in Japan you go the more people like it and the more south you go the less. Just my observation and I have no clue, why…. Anyways I came to like Natto (not at the first time though… it take a bit time to get used to like coffee and beer) and it is my lazy-I-don’t-feel-like-cooking-anything-today dish. I usually eat it mixed with a little mustard and Katsuo dashi sauce over white rice.
Raw shrimp and its eggs
Well, raw shrimp has a very sweet taste and the small green eggs are quite salty. It balances each other very good and even though it might seem weird, I would recommend trying it once, if you have the chance to… I was introduced to this dish by my friends over in Kanazawa, a city that is famous for its fresh and especially good sea food.
Herring fish eggs
At first I thought it was some kind of sea veggies, because the typical salty-fishy flavor was missing that I know from other kinds of fish eggs. But I eventually found out that this is, what it is. The texture again is really interesting, because it’s rather firm and if you chew it the little fish eggs pop in your mouth… it’s a funny sensation!
So far for now… I’m sure there are a lot more dishes to try, but this will have to wait until next time!
See you 🙂