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Let's talk about Japanese cuisine in Malta!
- Japanese Food Is Another Claim To Fame! -
Japanese Cuisine in Malta
Japan has worked its way to fame for many things, including superb technology, mind-blowing landscapes, an intensely rich history, manga, Hello Kitty (of course!) and the incredible Japanese restaurants serving up unique dishes!
The Japanese themselves will hunt for the nearest Japanese restaurant in any country they visit – they love their own food and the dedication to the preparation and presentation of their dishes gives everyone else a reason to fall in love with it too!
Japanese Food… Or Art?
So much of Japanese culture is based around it’s food so it’s easy to understand why they take pride in its presentation and detail and when served, makes you feel guilty for indulging and destroying their works of art! It plays such a central role in the community and the bonding of families and friends, that there is always a festival or hotspot around where people are gathering to drink, socialise and enjoy all the tasty treats! As the seasons change and respond to nature, so does the Japanese food itself. Colours, flavours, aromas and smells abound means you can eat a different dish every day for the rest of your life – and still not manage to try everything that this wonderful cuisine has to offer!
Tantalising Ingredients For a Titillating Culture
Due to its variety and uniqueness and astonishing array of ingredients, it’s no wonder that they are calling for Japan’s cuisine to be included on the UNESCO list of Intangible Cultural Heritage!
The amount of products associated with Japanese cuisine is beyond 1,500, with rice lying at the heart of most meals, and even though many are shared with other Asian countries, the Japanese have added a twist with their own style and taste. They are known for the fifth basic flavour – ‘umami’ – which informally means ‘pleasant savoury taste’ and has captured the interest of chefs from every corner of the world, and not just those in Japanese restaurants!
These basic ingredients are essential to Japanese cuisine:
Soy Sauce – Crucial to any Japanese dish (and forms part of the base for most) and used to add a salty and savoury flavour. It’s made by fermenting soy beans and is used as dipping sauce for sushi, gyozas and tempura.
Rice Vinegar – Sushi rice simply cannot be made without it! It’s heated with other ingredients and then poured over the rice and mixed in well, or mixed with soy sauce to create a delectable dipping sauce.
Mirin – This interesting ingredient is a sweet rice wine which adds a slight sweetness to particular dishes such as dumplings and soup stocks.
Wasabi – Not a lot of people know how genuinely tough this is to farm it properly and the ‘real’ stuff is usually pretty expensive! Most of what you find on the table at Japanese restaurants (your average ones, not the fine-dining or top sushi restaurants!) and in supermarkets is actually horseradish, and not true wasabi root.
Japanese Dishes That Will Make Your Taste Buds Tingle!
Sushi – You can’t talk about Japanese food without including the world-famous sushi -they’ve become synonymous! With its origins tracing back to the Chinese, sushi was invented around the 1800s in Japan, and has escalated to become world-famous in the Western world since the 1960s… at an impressive pace! It’s a dish that can be eaten in so many different ways and with such variety, but is traditionally pressed rice which has been fermented in vinegar with a slice of delicious raw fish on top and is served with pickled ginger, soy sauce and wasabi. Chefs are still experimenting and creating new ideas, so who knows how far it will go!
Sashimi – This is essentially sushi, but without the rice. Pieces of raw fish (such as tuna, salmon, eel etc.) are thinly sliced into bite-size portions using extremely high quality fish! Again, there are too many varieties to mention here, but the most popular at Japanese restaurants in Malta would be tuna, salmon, sea bream and mackerel. It’s also served with soy sauce and wasabi and sometimes even ginger.
Tempura – This is essentially a dish that could include anything from seafood to meat and vegetables, which are tossed in batter and then deep-fried – resulting in something light and crispy and works wonderfully as a starter! In most Japanese restaurants, its served with a particular sauce known as ‘tentsuyu’, which is made with soy sauce, mirin and dashi soup. This delicious dish is well-liked in Malta and will most definitely be on the menu at any Japanese restaurant here!
Yakitori – A very simple dish, yet it will send your taste-buds soaring! Usually this dish is made with lightly seasoned skewered chicken pieces and then grilled to perfection (though you can find variations which include other meats and vegetables). It makes an excellent starter or quick nibble whilst out drinking with friends and is extremely popular in Japan as a quick grab-and-go snack!
Udon – An increasingly popular dish worldwide, these unique thick flour noodles can be eaten in hundreds of ways. They’re often boiled in water and served hot or cold in seafood or meat broth with diverse toppings such as tempura, scallions, chicken, mushrooms, soft-boiled eggs… the list can go on forever. Whatever your preference is, there isn’t one single way to eat this dish, but we can tell you it’s worth trying!
If these dishes don’t make you go on the hunt for the closest Japanese restaurants, we don’t know what will! In Malta, the best Japanese restaurants can be found in the capital city – Valletta, and seaside towns like Sliema, Paceville, St. Julian’s and Mellieha. Venture out and give your taste-buds a mind-blowing experience!