Written by Hilary Keyes
Warm Up Inside And Out - Japan's Favorite Winter Dishes
Winter in Japan can be quite wild depending on where you visit - but no matter where you go, you shouldn't miss out on Japan's traditional winter dishes, which are sure to fill you up and keep you warm inside and out.
Winter in Tokyo may not seem all that cold to most international tourists, however northern Japan gets buffeted with northern winds, sees jaw-dropping snowfalls, and has some of the wildest iceberg sightings too. In fact, there are many great Japanese winter experiences that only those brave enough, and prepared for the weather, can enjoy.
But if you aren't a fan of the cold, or would rather warm up after a day outside with something traditional, then you should see the winter menu items at restaurants, cafes, and izakayas across the country. Japan knows how to make eating healthily and heartily in the winter look good.
Here are four of the most popular winter dishes you can enjoy during a trip to Japan.
1. Oden - Available Almost Everywhere
Oden is an extremely popular winter dish that you can readily find at izakayas and oden restaurants, yatai food stalls and even convenience stores. A traditional Japanese dish it is basically a simple stew featuring a variety of ingredients like daikon radish, rolled konbu kelp, and fried tofu, slowly cooked in a kelp-based broth and served with karashi mustard on the side..
2. Nabe - Dozens of Hot Pot Options
Nabe, or hot pot, is an exceptionally versatile and healthy dish - you can include almost anything in it and there are dozens of different broths to choose from. One of the most popular and well known types though is chanko nabe, which contains chicken, seafood, potatoes, and other vegetables and is the staple meal of sumo wrestlers.
3. Sukiyaki - a Comforting Winter Favorite
Sukiyaki is another type of hot pot dish, which features thinly sliced strips of beef and several vegetables cooked in a shallow iron pan in a salty-sweet broth, and eaten after being dipped in freshly beaten raw egg. There are also some regional differences in how sukiyaki is prepared across Japan, so depending on where you try it, you may find that sukiyaki changes quite deliciously.
To learn about the differences between hot pot and sukiyaki, take a look at Shabu-Shabu, Sukiyaki, Hot Pot: The Differences, Recipes, And More!
4. Oshiruko - Warm Traditional Winter Dessert
A warm winter dessert, oshiruko is anko (red bean paste) cooked with water and sugar, with mochi (rice cakes) and shiratama (rice flour dumplings) in it. It can be made from different types of anko, such as the smooth koshian, or the rougher tsubuan kind. You'll find this dish available at most Japanese restaurants and cafes in winter, so if you're a fan of traditional sweets, don't miss your chance to try oshiruko.
Stay Warm During Japanese Winters!
When the temperature starts to drop, it's time to enjoy dishes that will not only keep you warm, but healthy in the winter. If you're planning a winter getaway to Japan, then by all means, give these dishes a try!