Adaptation of Foreign Foods

Yosyoku - Japanese-style Western Food  on click for larger screen

Japanese have never been conservative about trying unforeknown foods or ingredients but incorporated imported food from across the world (mostly from Asia, Europe and to a lesser extent the Americas), and have historically adapted many to make them their own.

Along with many kinds of vegetables and cereal grains and cooking methods like stir-frying or deep-frying, dishes widely taken as Japanese original such as Sushi or Tempura (天ぷら or 天麩羅, tenpura) came in from the outside of Japan as well.

After the Meiji restoration in 1868, the sudden influx of foreign (in particular, western) culture led to many restaurants serving western food, known as yōshoku (洋食, Western-influenced food).

Yōshoku began by altering Western recipes for lack of information about foreign countries’ cuisine, or adaptions to suit local tastes, but over time, yōshoku also evolved dishes that were not at all based on European foods, such as chicken rice (チキンライス, chicken pilaf) and omurice (オムライス, omelette rice).

  • Tonkatsu
    Tonkatsu (とんかつ)
  • Naporitan
    Naporitan (ナポリタン)
  • Tenpura-Donburi
    Tenpura-Donburi (天丼)
  • Katsu Curry
    Katsu Curry (カツカレー)

Yōshoku is considered a field of Japanese cuisine, including such typical adapted meals as katsu (or katsuretsu, カツ or カツレツ, a Japanese version of the Wiener schnitzel, a breaded cutlet), beefsteak, korokke (コロッケ, a deep fried dish originally related to a French dish, the croquette), naporitan (ナポリタン, tomato ketchup spaghetti ), Hayashi rice (ハヤシライス, hashed beef) and curry rice (カレーライス, Japanese curry) ― many of them are served alongside rice and miso soup, and eaten with chopsticks.

Many yōshoku items from that time have been adapted to a degree that they are now considered Japanese and are an integral part of any Japanese family menu.

Rare country can enjoy a variety of foods like this (Japan does).

Based upon the food culture and the cooking tradition, the dedicated chefs together with the food-oriented people as the connoisseurs have enhanced a wide and diverse gastronomic scene of Japan.

—ODAKANE Fuji

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