Vegetarians can rejoice, as meatless options abound!
Time changes everything. Not only the environment and our surroundings, but our own language, style, and eating habits too. If that weren’t the case, we’d have no problem reading and understanding Shakespeare, and might still eat things like ham and bananas hollandaise.
With things like beef bowls, horse sashimi, and breaded pork cutlets a regular part of the menu in modern-day Japanese society, it’s hard for people to wrap their head around the fact that Japan had banned the eating of meat for over a millenia! While fish and fowl were still occasionally consumed during the time, it wasn’t until 1872 that the Meiji emperor officially lifted the ban.
So what did the Japanese eat prior to things like ramen and conveyer-belt sushi? On November 24, the National Institute of Informatics released a series of recipes onto the top recipe-sharing site in Japan, Cookpad. The recipes from the Edo era (1603-1868) cookbooks were translated into modern Japanese, formatted into standard recipe style, and digitized for the public.
The “Edo Gohan” page has 32 recipes to choose from, with things like quail egg omelets, egg-tofu, iced tofu with brown sugar syrup, vinegared egg salad, walnut confectionery, and silken tofu miso soup. The recipes are available for all to see, but if your Japanese ability is limited (or non-existent), we’ve brought you a couple of the recipes in English to get you started!
Tataki Tofu (tofu nuggets)
・Grilled tofu (1 block)
・Red miso paste (2 tbsp)
・Flour (3 tbsp)
・Oil (enough for frying, approximately 1-centimeter [0.4-inches] deep)
・Flour (for coating, 1 tbsp)
・Green onions (sliced)
Break apart the block of tofu by hand, and lightly boil in a pot of water.
Use a tea towel or paper towel to gently wring the water out of the tofu.
Using a mortar and pestle, smash the tofu until it’s completely crumbled apart.
Image: Cookpad (edited by RocketNews24)
Add the red miso paste and 3 tablespoons of flour and mix well.
Shape the mixture into round, flattened disks and coat in the 1 tablespoon of flour.
Heat about 1-centimeter (0.4-inches) of oil in a pan and fry the flour-coated nuggets, flipping part-way through, until both sides are golden brown. Remove from oil and let drain. Serve sprinkled with scallions if desired.
Daikon Yuki-jiru (daikon radish soup)
・Daikon radish (100 g)
・Dashi stock (600 ml)
・White miso paste (20 g)
・Salt (1 tsp)
・Potato starch (1 tsp)
・Water (1 tsp)
・Sliced green onions
・”Shichimi togarashi” (seven-spice blend)
・Shredded nori seaweed
Grate up the entire 100 grams of daikon, including the skin.
Pour the grated daikon into the dashi stock.
Add in the miso paste and salt.
Mix the 1 teaspoon of potato starch into 1 teaspoon of water. Add the potato starch mixture into the soup, stirring until well combined.
Serve the soup in a bowl served with the additional toppings.
If you live in Japan, all of the ingredients can be easily found at your nearest grocery store, but if you’re living outside of the country, you may have some difficulty finding things like dashi stock or daikon radish. If you don’t have an international food market in your area, Amazon is a good place to find some of those non-perishable ingredients. If you would like to see more of these recipes in English, please let us know in the comments below. Happy cooking!