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What is Washoku and why is it so integral to the Japanese way of life?

November 26, 2015 9:18 am

Those who visit, or simply have an interest in, Japan will have an understanding of the intricate and complex values that make up the country’s cultural identity. This theme comes through clearly in their relationship with food, and nowhere more so than in “Washoku”. Washoku is a term covering the tradition of food in Japan, but is more than just the ingredients. It covers the historical manner of selecting, cooking, serving and enjoying a range of traditional Japanese dishes. This elaborate style has now been placed on the UNESCO Intangible Cultural Heritage List. UNESCO set this list up to capture and safeguard important elements of societies that might, if we’re not careful, be forgotten. This includes languages, practices and methodologies - ways of doing things.

Not that Washoku is currently in any danger of being forgotten: top calibre chefs from all over...

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The Japanese storecupboard

November 23, 2015 7:42 am

Japanese food is becoming more and more popular in the UK. London has hundreds of gourmet Japanese restaurants, while Wagamama has opened 140 branches throughout the UK over the last 20 years. Meanwhile, Japanese snack foods are taking off at home, and are becoming increasingly easy to find in supermarkets. Ready-made isn’t the only option, though. The staples of Japanese cooking aren’t hard to lay your hands on, and it won’t take long to build up a collection of the vital ingredients.

Know your noodles: 7 types of noodles you need to try

November 11, 2015 2:23 pm

In 2002, archaeologists found an earthenware bowl containing the world's oldest known noodles. They proved to be roughly 4000 years old and were found at the Lajia archaeological site along the Yellow River in China. The noodles themselves were surprisingly well-preserved (though way past their best before date) and were described as resembling the traditional lamian noodle of China, which is made by repeatedly pulling and stretching the dough by hand. Noodles have come a long way since then, and there is a huge variety to choose from. Below we pick out seven of our favourites and explore their origins and what they are best served with. 1. Ramen Predominantly known as a Japanese speciality, Ramen actually originate from China. These wheat based noodles are most commonly used in soup-based dishes. Made up of a meat or fish-based broth it is often flavoured with soy sauce...

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Turmeric – the original super-spice

November 7, 2015 3:11 pm

It aids digestion, is great for post-workout recovery and can help to fight cancer. Are we talking about the latest hipster superfood, exclusively grown by small tribes at the at the foot of the Andes? No, we’re talking about something you may already be eating – we’re talking about turmeric. Turmeric has been a staple of cuisine on the Indian sub-continent since 3000 B.C, so it is no surprise that India accounts for 80% of world turmeric production.

Growing up to a metre tall and with pinkish blooms, turmeric belongs to the Zingiberaceae family and as such is related to that other staple of Asian cookery, ginger. Like ginger, it is the root of the turmeric plant that provides the fragrant spice, which adds warmth and earthiness to many dishes.

Beyond Asia

We most associate turmeric with...

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