In this article, we're going to look at 10 weird foods you can only eat in Japan. Foods you never thought existed in this great country of noodles, rice and sushi.
Most of these delicacies are only eaten in certain parts of Japan, so not even a Japanese has had the chance to try all of these dishes. Not only me but many Japanese pass away.
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1. Natto - Fermented Soybean
Natto is fermented soybeans, which have a very strong smell and a very viscous texture. Recently, the health benefits of natto have been widely publicized and now people can buy it in supermarkets across Japan.
However, thirty years ago, it was not common for people in western Japan to eat it. It is rich in protein, vitamin K, and dietary fiber. In some Japanese restaurants outside of Japan, you can order natto. It may not be possible to eat the original, but they will often offer natto-maki, a sushi roll with natto inside.
Read too: Amanatto – The Bean Jujube
2. Shirasu – Grated fish
Shirasu is small fish, usually sardines, eel, herring or ayu. It is eaten raw or dried after being boiled in salted water. It is rich in protein and calcium. It's not a dish with strange flavors or ingredients, but it does look quite bizarre.
3. Inago no tuskudani
Inago is a species of grasshopper and is commonly eaten in Nagano and other mountainous regions where seafood is not very accessible. Inago is first fried in a pan, then boiled in water for a while and then boiled in soy sauce and sugar to produce tsukudani. Tsukudani in other parts of Japan is made from small fish, shellfish and seaweed.
4. Kurage (Jellyfish)
Jellyfish are eaten raw or dried. Despite its appearance, it does not have a jelly-like texture, it is crunchy. Only six types of Jellyfish are consumed.
5. Namako (sea cucumber)
Despite its unattractive appearance, the sea cucumber is one of the best Japanese delicacies. It has been consumed by the Japanese for over a thousand years. A sea cucumber is often eaten raw with vinegar to enjoy the unique crunch. It is also possible to find it dry.
Kamenote is a marine crustacean, its name refers to the hand of a turtle, and can be found on rocky shores. It is most consumed in southern Japan.
People often put miso in soup or brine cooking. Despite not being the same species, barnacles, which are quite similar, are eaten in Spain and Portugal as well.
7. Suppon (Turtle Shell)
According to archeology, suppon is a soft-shelled turtle, consumed by the Japanese since the Jomon period (2500-1500 BC). Nowadays it is often eaten as nabe (hot pot), suimono (soup) or zosui (Japanese risotto) the broth made from suppon is tasty. Rumor has it that the shell is an aphrodisiac.
8. Basashi (Horse Meat)
Even this meat is seen with bad eyes in Brazil. Horse meat is eaten in many countries across the world, more than people think. However, Japan consumes this meat raw. it is often eaten as sashimi with grated ginger or garlic and soy sauce.
Kusaya is a dried salted fish produced in the Izu Islands. It is made by marinating the fresh fish in Kusaya-jiru (similar to fish sauce) for 8-20 hours and then washing it with fresh water and finally drying it in the sun for 1-2 days. Kusaya was given to the Shougun as a gift in the Edo Period. It is famous for its unique smell.
Shiokara (塩辛) is made from the guts of various sea creatures. It is a preserved food made from the fermentation of Organs internal organs mixed with about 10% of salt, 30% of rice malt, fermented and packed in a plastic container.