Japanese Food Facts To Blow Your Mind

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Interesting Bits of Knowledge

Tokyo is the International Capital of the Top Restaurants. It beats even Paris. The undoubted world capital of fine dining is Tokyo, with a remarkable 302 Michelin stars in total in 2017. The breakdown as follows: 12 are 3 stars, 53 are 2 stars, and 160, 1 star. Two other Japanese cities make up the top 5 of this list – Kyoto and Osaka.

Amazing Benefits of the Nutritious Nori

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A Strip of Nori for Health

Nori is that blackish green, thin strip of edible seaweed you see wrapped around sushi, or just placed on top of your soup as garnish. It is widely used in Asian cuisine, particularly that of the Japanese and Korean. Nori is the Japanese word for do and it refers to dried seaweed sheets made from the edible red algae species.

Nori is generally regarded as safe to eat in moderate amounts and provides an abundance of healthful properties.

Seaweeds: Flavors and Colors from The Deep

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From The Deep to Your Dinner Plate

Seaweeds (kaiso) have been an important part of the Japanese diet for many centuries. Today, various types of seaweed are used extensively as soup stock, seasonings and other forms in daily Japanese cooking. There’s even seaweed salad. Over the past decades, foreigners have become more familiar with their flavors though seaweed and the full extent of its culinary applications remain a bit mysterious to many. Let’s have a look at these delicacies of the deep.

Rice: Integral Part of Japanese Culture

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Japanese Rice Varieties

Did you know that rice accounts for around a quarter of the daily caloric intake of Japan. On a daily basis, whichever time of day, the traditional Japanese meal is rice, one soup and three side dishes. Cooked rice is central to Japanese tradition and for over 2,000 years it was cultivated all across the country. It is barely absent on the dinner table and has come to symbolize the Japanese way of life.

There are several main varieties of rice in Japan. There’s the most common white rice, called ‘hakumai’. It is short grained and sticky when cooked. Most of Japanese rice is polished rice where the outer skin or bran is removed and served as white rice, served with most Japanese meals.

Eel: The Nutritious Unagi

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Rejuvenation, Vitality, and More

Unagi is the Japanese word for freshwater eel. The freshwater eels and other marine eels are commonly used in Japanese cuisine. Anago is another eel variety and this one is the saltwater type. Unagi in particular is prized for its soft, fatty meat and bold, rich taste. Unagi is cultivated mainly during May to October, and is generally regarded amongst Japanese as being a summer food, as its high content of vitamins and minerals is believed to provide the energy necessary to “beat summer fatigue.”

Quick and Easy Meals with Bonito Flakes

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Just a Pinch Goes a Long Way in Flavor

Bonito flakes (or katsuobushi) are a delicious and a very quick way to make a pot of economical fish stock. The resulting broth, called dashi, is a fish stock traditional to Japan. It is traditionally mixed with fermented miso paste to make miso soup.

The flakes are made from dried, fermented, and smoked skipjack tuna. Japanese women used to keep blocks of the dried bonito and flake off as much as they needed. Nowadays the flakes are sold in bags. Homemade dashi made from dried kelp and bonito flakes is rare today, even in Japan. Most people use granulated or liquid instant stock, which is typically MSG-flavored instead of the natural bonito flakes.

Katsu: Not Just Any Fried, Breaded Cutlet

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Westernized and Truly Japanese

Katsu, or “cutlet” in Japanese, refers to meat that’s been pounded thin before being cooked. Chicken katsu is a popular dish of fried chicken wherein the meat is seasoned, then dredged in flour, egg, and finally panko breadcrumbs – a flaky type of breadcrumb made with white bread. Katsu can also be of seafood. Similar in form to a German schnitzel, katsu is one of many Western foods that has been adapted to suit local tastes, and become a key part of Japanese cuisine.

There is no real fundamental difference between katsu and other styles of breaded and fried cutlets. Only two things distinguish it. First, katsu must be made with panko crumbs (as opposed to European-style breaded cutlets, where panko may occasionally be called for but is not a requirement). And second, it must be served with katsu sauce. Katsu is not katsu without the thick, savory-sweet, Worcestershire sauce.

The Tasty Evolution of Ramen

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Knowing the Real Ramen

Ramen is a hot culinary trend that has swept the world. It is everywhere. You find it served in small, unpretentious sidewalk stalls to glitzy high-end restaurants. You can even cook your own, cheap packets of dried noodles procured from the grocer’s near you. However, the microwaveable type is not exactly real ramen. The best ramen noodles today are much more similar to the ramen served 100 years ago.

Takoyaki: Deliciousness in Federal Way

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Japanese Hot Easy Snack on the Go

Those ball-shaped Japanese snacks, called Takoyaki, are basically batter cooked in a special pan with half ping-pong sized molds. Flour is dissolved in a specially mixed soupy stock and poured individually over the half molds. Then minced or diced octopus or “tako” are added, along with leeks, pickled ginger, and tempura scraps. Made of cast iron, the pan is evenly heated. As one side of the takoyaki gets cooked, each is turned to the other side with a pick to get cooked in turn. The balls are brushed later with takoyaki sauce, mayonnaise is added, then green aonori and shavings of dried bonito are sprinkled over. Takoyaki makes for great, delicious snacks.

The dish first appeared in Osaka in 1935 by some street vendor credited for this invention. It was inspired by akashiyaki, a small round dumpling from the city of Akashi, made of egg batter and octopus. What was comfort food for the people of Osaka spread to other regions and now is available throughout Japan. It has long been associated with street food especially during matsuri, which are any local religious festivals held in Japan.

Everybody seems to love takoyaki. They’re bite-sized and easy to eat even by children, but be careful since they’re usually freshly made and hot. There are many individually operated traditional takoyaki stores, especially in Osaka. However, big companies have gone into franchising their takoyaki versions since the 1990s and since then been competing in the fast food market within and outside of Japan.

The hot dish has evolved into high quality snacks with attention to ingredients, toppings and degrees of cooking. In the US, one can find takoyaki stalls in malls and supermarkets and other commercial areas. Many Japanese restaurants also serve this favorite snack.

Hot Balls of Snack and Fun in Federal Way

At K-Ton, our takoyaki is not just your regular street food fare but is a different restaurant experience. From the hands of our talented chefs, we bring you the popular Japanese snack balls you’ll always love.

August 14th, 2017

Tempura: The Journey from Snack to Meal

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How a Foreign Dish Became Truly Japanese

The crunchy tempura is one of the best-loved dishes of many non-Japanese. Its slightly sweet and slightly tangy dipping sauce, the interplay of delicious batter outside and fresh seafood inside make it a must-order in a Japanese dine-out.

The usual tempura consist of seafood, either shrimp or white fish deep fried in batter. There’s also vegetables, like onions, potatoes, sweet potatoes, shiitake mushrooms, Japanese pumpkin, carrots and green peppers. You can also have kaki-age, a mix of seafood and veggies.

However, it is tempura’s batter that makes it distinct from other Japanese fried foods. It doesn’t use bread crumbs and uses less grease. Batter is basically beaten egg, flour and cold water, and sometimes oil, starch or spices may be added.

Many regard tempura as a Japanese dish, but lo, its origins are not so. With their ability to turn foreign foods into something that suits their taste, the Japanese actually borrowed tempura from the Portuguese. When Latin-speaking Portuguese missionaries came to Japan in the 1600s, they introduced this method of frying food, quite unknown to the Japanese at the time. It was basically meant for Lent when eating meat was disallowed observance.

The dish was referred to as tempora cuaresme, meaning ‘in the time of Lent.’ It was introduced at the port of Nagasaki when it were only the Dutch, Chinese, and the Portuguese who were allowed to trade with then closed-off Japan. It became a quickly loved snack food, served between meals.

By the 18th century, Japanese chefs experimented with frying fish and vegetables whole, differing from the tradition of eating fresh food. Though fried, the foods preserved their unique taste and character. This is when the popular snack became a meal on its own and has become truly Japanese.

In modern times now, tempura is served on a rice bowl called tendon or on top of soba noodles. It is also ordered as a side dish with dipping sauce. Sometimes, other foods are batter-fried tempura style – like sushi rolls, fruit or noodles.

The Japanese have remarkably made tempura their own, making it a traditional Japanese cuisine.

Loving Fried Foods in Federal Way

Love the tempura at K-Ton, your Japanese restaurant in Federal Way where we keep our grassroots tradition alive, even among our fried selections.

July 10th, 2017

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