5 Colors, 5 Flavors and 5 Ways 


The way in which you prepare a food dramatically changes its appearance, texture, perception of flavor, and even its nutritional value. Traditionally, Japanese menus were conceived of as a series of courses, each with a dish prepared in a different way. Meals constructed in this manner used limited food resources (just a few ingredients) to maximum advantage.
The word cooking, in English, implies the application of heat when preparing a meal, though the recent attention given to raw foods has changed that somewhat. Washoku notions of balance however require that varied methods be used, unlike many who suggest that only raw foods be consumed.
True, applying heat can destroy certain elements (such as temperature-sensitive vitamin C), diminishing their nutritional value. But, the application of heat makes most foods easier to digest, thereby increasing absorption of their nutrients. Searing and simmering certain foods helps convert their starches to sugar, making them seem sweet -- naturally -- eliminating (or at least, reducing) the need for additional seasonings. 
It is the inclusion of both raw and cooked foods, prepared in a variety of ways, that ensures maximum nutritional value and gustatory pleasure.


Simmering Vegetables
otoshibuta
SIMMER 煮る niru

In Japanese, the word niru is used to describe a range of activity that includes simmering, stewing, boiling, blanching, and braising -- nearly anything cooked submerged in (or at least covered by) a bubbling liquid. It is probably the most commonly employed method of food preparation, producing soups, stews, and salad-like side dishes (briefly blanched then tossed in a flavored sauce).


Grilling, Yaku

GRILL 焼く yaku

In Japanese, the word yaku is used to describe a range of activity that includes grilling, broiling,and skillet-searing. Baking (cooking in dry, enclosed heat) was not part of the traditional Japanese kitchen.



goho 五法

5 Ways


Raw Fish, Sashimi
RAW nama

Preparing food for table does not always require the application of heat. Ingredients can be transformed in other ways: peeling, grating, marinating to name just a few. Perhaps the best known Japanese raw dishes are sushi and sashimi.

Note: The category nama includes most tsukemono “pickles,” even though occasionally brief blanching is needed to control enzyme action.


Tempura Shrimp and Vegetables

FRY 揚げる ageru

Originally introduced to Japan from China by way of Korea, it was centuries later when the Portuguese arrived in Nagasaki that batter-coated, fried foods became part of Japanese cooking. The resulting tempura has become synonymous with Japanese cookery.

Today, agemono (fried food) includes stir-frying and sauteing, too.

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Steaming foods
STEAM 蒸す musu

Cooking in moist, enclosed heat is fuel efficient. In a formal Japanese meal, the steamed course -- often called wan mono for the lidded serving bowl, wan,  in which it is brought to table --  is served early on in the progression of dishes. A chef is often judged by his or her ability to coax out subtle yet satisfying flavor in this dish.