Like many other people, I have vowed to eat more healthy in the New Year. Often this is easier said then done, but when your passion is making Japanese food you have a wonderful variety of healthy recipes at your disposal. Real washoku, that is to say traditional Japanese cooking from before the Meiji Restoration, is mostly made up of vegetables, fish, and rice, with a little fruit thrown in for good measure. Japan is the nation with the highest life expectancy and the lowest rate of obesity, which should give you a pretty clear idea of where I'm going with this.
When I started this blog I wanted to give you all the classics, like tempura, tonkatsu, and okonomiyaki. These are dishes that most people have heard of and are curious about. I have now done these and other foods, which are not technically washoku (as they are based on western dishes) and are far less healthy. Well now is the time to keep to our resolutions, but don't worry, healthy Japanese food is delicious too!
As you might recall from my post about Japanese meals they traditionally consist of a bowl of rice, a bowl of soup, two okazu (side dishes of either meat, fish, or cooked vegetable), and often a third hashi yasume dish which is a cold vegetable or pickle. Exploring some of these cold vegetable dishes is one of my healthy food goals, and I decided to start with namasu. This is actually a dish traditionally made for New Year, but you can eat it any time. It is easy and, aside from cutting up vegetables, is fairly quick to make and keeps in the fridge for about three days.
Namasu can be made a couple different ways, but it is most common to find it (as with the recipe I used from Japanese Cooking 101) made of daikon radishes and carrots, with a vinegar and sugar sauce. Red and white are colors of celebration in Japan and it's easy to see why, the beautiful shades of this bright salad make me want to cheer! Namasu is a pickle, though not in the way that you might picture one, it's nice and fresh. Sweet and sour, crunchy and crisp, it is sure to bring a smile to your face.
I've never cared much for pickles, but Japan has a certain passion for them. Some shops there sell hundreds of varieties, and little by little they're winning me over. For my birthday I got a cookbook all about Japanese preserving, so you can look forward to my writing about it quite a bit in the next few weeks. Also, plenty more healthy Japanese foods.
Until next time, stay healthy!