Yoshoku is Japanese western style cooking. In my experience, every dish that the Japanese adopt and alter ends up being more delicious than the dish they started with. Yoshoku translates literally as “Western style cuisine”, as opposed to Washoku 和食 which translates to Japanese style cuisine. During the Meiji period (1868-1912) after more than 200 years of the borders being closed, there was a great rush to modernise and westernise in Japan. Many Japanese, including Emperor Meiji, were concerned that the Japanese had fallen behind the West. This led to many western things being adopted in to the Japanese lifestyle. In the case of food, and many other things, the Japanese did not just copy the thing verbatim. They took the idea, added their own particular mastery to it and reinvented each dish. The food was still cooked in a Japanese way, but with a Western twist. The results are so very delicious and have been absorbed into the Japanese culture.
Some of my favourite yoshoku dishes are Hamburg steak, omurice, kareraisu and doria. Hamburg steak ハンバーグステーキ is a beef hamburger served with rice and often Demi-glace, chunky tomato sauce or gravy. It is common to find this dish with any number of different sauces, and restaurants in Japan are dedicated to making this one specialty dish. Hamburg steak is rich and delicious and the combination of minced beef, rice and sauce is fantastic. Not to be confused with a ハンバーガ Hanba-ga… or hamburger, which is an American style hamburger with a bun and usually served with chips, this Hamburg steak has it origins in both central Asia and Europe. The Tartars would eat a meal of raw minced beef- Steak Tartare, which would become popular in the 1700s in France, Germany and Belgium. The Germans adapted this and then it made it’s way to America, renamed Salisbury steak. It also made it’s way back to Asia, although much farther East and became one of the most popular dishes with kids, and me, in Japan. Find a link to our Hamburg Steak recipe here.
Omurice オムライス another personal favourite, with a soft, just barely cooked omelette sitting on top of rice, which has been fried with chicken and tomato ketchup. There are many variations on this dish, my favourite is omurice with beef curry or with Hamburg steak. Again, often served with Demi-glace, but this dish also comes with many different fillings, like seafood and often with cheesy sauce or béchamel over the top. This is one of the most popular yoshoku dishes in Japan and it is popular with kids, and me, also. Karerisu カレーアイス is Japanese curry with rice. It is a reasonably traditional style curry, made with curry powder, however, Japanese curry usually has grated apple as the thickener, and this makes the curry super delicious and tasty. Some variations of this dish are katsu curry, with a crumbed pork schnitzel or beef curry with an onsen (read only just cooked 68℃ sous vide) egg. This is my favourite and tastes delicious with fukujinzuke pickles. Some other dishes are doriaドリア, which is like a potato gratin, only the potato is replaced with rice. This is a cheesy pot of molten deliciousness, served with seafood or bolognaise sauce, and it is kind of like a mash-up of gnocchi, pasta bake, lasagne and risotto. Yum!! Korokke コロッケ or croquettes, mashed potato crumbed in panic breadcrumbs and served with Tonkatsu sauce. These are soooo yummy. I love the Murasaki-imo, or purple sweet potato the best. Korokke also come with various fillings, including prawns, ham and cheese, beef and various other local specialities.
My other favourite is taco rice. This is a yoshoku dish particular to Okinawa, which is a group of Japanese islands not far from the coast of Taiwan. This particular dish has an interesting history and look out for the recipe and some other information coming very soon.
Photo Credits. Other photos are my own…
Hamburg with daikon “250/365 Yoshoku orgy [hamburger curry with a difference]” by the.pinoyboy is licensed under CC BY-NC-ND 2.0