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Processed foods as ingredients of Japanese dish

Tofu and related foods

Tofu is the food which east Asian people eat, and is one of the most important ingredients in Japanese dishes.
Recently it becomes known to the world as one of healthy foods.

It is white and soft like jelly and has a very delicate flavor of soy bean.
We Japanese eat it on its own with shoyu, or cook it as one of ingredient.

Tofu is made by boiling broken soy beans and coagulating the liquid with bittern.
Commonly, tofu is produced in a square mold. So it is sold in the square shape.

Tofu in the marketplace has two types.
One is soft tofu, and is called "Kinu-tofu" (Tofu of silk). It is very delicate and breakable.
Another is hard tofu, and is called "Momen-tofu" (Tofu of cotton).
They are used according to the menu and the cook's favorite.

The liquid is called "tonyu" (Soymilk) and it is one of the healthy drink.

When tonyu is boiled, a film is formed on the surface.
This is "yuba" and is often used to cook the vegetarian dish.
Yuba in Kyoto and Nikko is well-known.

The leftover that tonyu is squeezed is "okara", and it is rich in nutrients.

There are some popular foods processed tofu.

  • Yakidofu : Singed Tofu. It is often used in Sukiyaki.
  • Abura-age : Thinly-sliced and fried tofu. It is often called "Age" simply.
  • Atsu-age : Thicker-sliced and fried tofu.
  • Ganmodoki : Round fried tofu. Commonly, chopped vegitables are mixed in the tofu.
  • Koyadofu : Tofu with a texture like sponge. It is made by freezing and drying sliced tofu in cold air.
Hiyayakko (Dish of raw tofu) Yudofu (Dish of boiled tofu) Dish of Yuba
Yakidofu Udon noodle topped with Abura-age Inarizushi (Sushi wrapped with Abura-age)
Atsu-age Ganmodoki Dish of Koyadofu

Foods processed vegitables


Natto is the fermented soybeans and is one of popular and healthy Japanese foods.

It is made by boiling soybeans, putting them into a pipe made from straw and keeping warm.
It has a smell like strong cheese, and by stirring it produces many spiderweb-like strings.
Probably this is one of the foods that foreign travellers can't eat.

This is originally the foods in eastern Japan, but recently it is eaten across the country. (Of course, many people in western Japan don't like natto.)
Natto is often served for breakfast at ryokan or minshuku.


Kon'nyaku is an oddish food like gray jelly and is eaten in only Japan in the world.

Kon'nyaku is a araceous plant.
Kon'nyaku as food is made by grinding its corm into powder, kneading it with water and jellifying with limewater.

It has very little flavor, nutrients and calories, but it is rich in dietary fiber.
So it is the best food to eat on a diet.
Generally it is eaten by boiling with dashi and shoyu.

Shirataki is the kon'nyaku in the form of noodle, and it is used to Sukiyaki.


Fu is dried bread-like piece of wheat gluten.
It is not main food of Japanese dish, but sometimes you can find it in suimono (clear soup) or sukiyaki.


Kanpyo is dried gourd shaving.
It is generally cooked by boiling in dashi, shoyu and sugar.
And it is used to sushi roll.

Natto Many Japanese people put Natto on hot rice. Most Natto are sold in styrofoam pack.
Kon'nyaku Floating "Fu" on Suimono soup Kanpyo roll

Foods processed fish

Fish is important ingredient, therefore various processed foods used fish are made.
Generally they are made from white-fleshed fish.
Kneaded white-fleshed fish is "surimi", so it is formed and steamed or broiled.


Kamaboko is the food that surimi is put on a wooden board and is steamed.
Of course, we can't eat the board and we eat only steamed surimi on the board by slicing.
They have the shape of half moon.


Chikuwa is the tube-like food made from surimi.
It is made by wrapping surimi around a bamboo or metal stick and broiling or steaming.
Generally products are removed the bamboo or stick, so have the form of tube.


Hanpen is a white and square shaped surimi product.
As it is made by mixing grated yama-imo with surimi, it is soft and has mild taste.

Crab stick

Crab stick is the surimi product resembled meat of crab legs.
It surely taste and has a texture like crab, but it contains no crab.
In 1973, this was invented for the first time by a seafood maker in Hokuriku district, and became a big hit in Japan.
I hear that recently this is eaten in the world as a topping on salads or sandwiches.


Satsuma-age is the fried surimi cake.
Satsuma is the old name of western Kagoshima prefecture, and the products in this area are well-known.
But same products are around the country, so we can eat them everywhere in Japan.

Kamaboko Chikuwa Hanpen
Crab stick Satsuma-age

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