Rise and Shine to a Traditional Japanese Breakfast
While Western traditions have been finding their way into many aspects of Japanese life, including breakfast, you can still find many who enjoy a traditional Japanese breakfast every morning. If you are planning to travel to Japan, some hotels will serve you a traditional breakfast in the morning if you wish to try one. In Japan, breakfast is not too different from lunch and dinner.
The traditional Japanese breakfast will include a small bowl of plain white rice. Rice has been a staple of Japan for over 2000 years and continues to be an important part of the daily diet in Japan. Another way rice may be served at breakfast in some areas of Japan is in a rice porridge that may have a little salty fish sauce added to it.
Miso soup is also a staple in the traditional breakfast. It may contain tofu, green onions, wakame (seaweed) and other ingredients. Individual families will have their own special miso soup recipe with various ingredients added.
In some areas of Japan you may find natto, which is a type of fermented soy beans. Natto can be placed on top of the rice and eaten together. The older generations eat more natto than the younger generations. It is also more popular in some areas of Japan than others.
Nori, a type of dried seaweed, may be offered on a small dish. The dried nori is swished around in the soup to soften it and then wrapped around rice and eaten.
Tamagoyaki is a sweetened rolled omelet that is very tender and tasty. Some people like to put a little bit of soy sauce on it.
Grilled fish is usually served with breakfast as well. It may be salmon, mackerel or any other seasonal fish. Sometimes a little fish is included in the rice and nori rolls that the diner puts together.
Pickles of some kind are always served in the traditional Japanese breakfast. You may find pickled daikon radish, cucumber, cabbage or umeboshi (sour plum) may be served. The variety of pickled vegetables is known as tsukemono.
Sometimes a raw egg is served with the traditional breakfast. The raw egg is cracked into a small bowl and mixed with a little soy sauce. The egg mixture is then mixed with the steamed rice. It can be eaten with chopsticks or rolled in the nori and eaten as finger food. Another way eggs may be served in a traditional breakfast is in a delicate savory custard known as chawan-mushi. Tofu whey may also be served in some places. It has a consistency like scrambled eggs.
Sometimes you may also get a little salad or cooked vegetables. These side dishes can also be eaten alone or with the rice.
While these foods may seem a little strange to the Western palate, they make a satisfying breakfast that is both filling and healthy. This combination will keep you from getting hungry until lunch time. Give it a try if you go to Japan. You may find you really like the way they start their day.