ingredients

From lotus root to alcohol: Are powdered foods the next big boom in Japan?

What’s that crumbly brown stuff on the rice pictured above?

If you guessed that it was some combination of spices, you’re (mostly) wrong. It’s actually the powdered form of a common cooking ingredient that you can find in any Japanese home. In fact, powdered foods in general have recently been drawing a lot of attention in Japan, so we wanted to share some interesting tidbits about them with you. And like the powder in the picture above, you might be surprised by what you find!

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Japanese people list 10 ingredients they never, ever want to find in their miso soup

Miso soup is a staple food in pretty much any Japanese household. Served morning, noon or night, this thin, slightly salty broth is tasty, filling, and, as you’ve probably already realised, is the perfect accompaniment to rice. It is so deeply ingrained in Japanese culture that in some areas of the country there even exists a joke that a man may indirectly propose to a woman simply asking, “Will you make my miso soup for me every morning?”

But one person’s idea of a perfect bowl of miso soup can be another’s salty soy nightmare. With so many ingredients that go, or at least seem to go, well in a bowl of Japan’s favourite broth, it can be difficult to find a bowl that ticks all the boxes, and there are some ingredients that – depending on one’s upbringing, personal tastes or geographical location – are considered simply unacceptable.

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We try curry made only from ingredients used 1,300 years ago

What comes to mind when you think of popular Japanese dishes? Of course, sushi and ramen top the list, but it’s also hard to leave out curry rice. Our modern notion of Japanese curry, which originally came from India and was further developed in England, came to Japan during the Meiji Era (1868-1912). However, the ingredients used for “medicinal curry” (based on Chinese medicine) have actually been in Japan for 1,300 years, since the Nara Era (710-794). We were lucky enough to find a pouch of instant “1,300-year-old curry” and just had to try it!

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