The beauty of Japanese cuisine is in its wide variety of ingredients and cooking methods. The various ways of preparing the many different categories of ingredients combine to create healthy, nutritionally well-balanced meals. Here is an introduction to some of the principal categories of Japanese cuisine. Once the characteristics of each category are understood, Japanese cooking can be more fun and healthier.
Essential menu for bento
"Onigiri" is a round, triangular or cylindrical ball of rice. Onigiri, also called "nigiri-meshi" or "omusubi," is a popular Japanese food enjoyed as a snack or on-the-go meal.
To make an onigiri, wet your hands with water so that the rice will not stick, and salt your palms before shaping the freshly cooked rice and adding the filling.
Traditional ones with fillings, such as umeboshi (pickled ume fruit), okaka (bonito flakes seasoned with soy sauce), salted salmon, salted cod roe, and tsukuda-ni (simmered condiments), in the center are shaped into a ball and then wrapped with a sheet of nori (dried laver). Wrappings can also be takana-zuke (pickled takana leaves), tororo-kombu (shredded kelp pieces) instead of laver. These days, rice balls with Western-style fillings, such as tuna and mayonnaise, have become popular.
Seasoned rice, including maze-gohan (mixed rice) and takikomi-gohan (rice cooked with other ingredients), is also used for rice balls but usually without a filling. "Yaki-onigiri" is a rice ball that has been grilled with soy sauce or miso.