A Japanese kitchen contains lots of gadgets and utensils made for convenience and presentation. Preparation of food in Japan often involves steaming or boiling, and copious amounts of vegetables and seafood make for a healthy diet. The kitchen has changed over time, but the Japanese still enjoy well-prepared and beautifully presented food.
The modern Japanese kitchen has evolved from an irori, or fireplace, in rural homes to a gleaming modern room with gas stoves and other appliances. Running water has replaced hauling from a water source. In the ancient Japanese kitchen, a kamado, a ceramic charcoal-fired grill, was originally an earthen vessel used like a stove or an oven. Kamados have become very popular in Western kitchens as well.
Living on an island means the Japanese eat a lot of seafood. In addition, they consume vegetables, soy products, and large amounts of rice and noodles. After World War II, the Japanese began to eat more meats such as pork and chicken, which increased health problems as they adopted Western eating habits. They are still some of the world’s most long-lived people because of their diet and healthy cooking techniques.
Various pots and pans may be found in a Japanese kitchen, including a rectangular pan used to make the extremely popular tamagoyaki, or rolled omelette. Almost every cook will have a large pot for boiling noodles and a metal or bamboo steamer. The otoshibuta is a light wooden lid put over boiling vegetables to keep the temperature even and the vegetables under the water without crushing them.
All shapes and sizes of cooking brushes are traditionally used to apply sauce to foods, such as a Western-style pastry brush. Good knives are especially useful in the Japanese kitchen, including one for fish, one for vegetables, and a carver for meats. The Japanese people have a loving relationship with their food, and presentation is everything. Great skill with the knives ensures an aesthetically pleasing plate and ease in handling morsels with chopsticks.
A bamboo colander, or zaru, helps drain or cool hot foods. Bamboo is also used for steamers and cooking utensils, such as rice paddles. Rice cookers may be found in a modern Japanese kitchen and can be used to make much more than this staple grain. As families become busier and sit-down meals become more rare, convenience devices such as this one make it easier for family members to eat according to their schedules.