Imported Foods Made Japanese

Tempura (天麩羅), the quintessential Japanese deep-fried dish, actually has its origins in Portugal. The cooking method of deep-frying with a batter arrived in Japan in the 16th century with the Jesuits.

Ramen (拉麺) Now regarded as one of Japan’s major culinary exports, ramen actually originated in China. When Japanese soldiers returned from China after the Second World War, many brought with them recipes for Chinese noodles.

Tonkatsu (豚カツ) This deep-fried pork fillet was introduced at the end of the 19th century and made popular by a restaurant in Tokyo’s Ginza district, called Renga-tei (煉瓦亭). Its roots are distinctly European: French côtelette, Milanese cotoletta and German schnitzel.

An-Pan (あんパン) Bread (pan, from the French pain) with a sweet filling made from red bean paste. Yasubei Kimura (木村安兵衛 1817–1889), a pioneering baker, was trying to popularise bread in Japan. In 1874, he came up with the idea of putting anko (あんこ), a sweet red bean paste and staple of Japanese confectionery, inside bread. It became a sensation.

Castella (カステラ) A sponge cake made from flour, sugar and eggs that was brought to Japan with the Jesuits in the 16th century. The name castella is a mystery. Some say it comes from the Spanish region of Castilla, while others say it is derived from the Portuguese word for castle, castelo. There are castella bakeries in Nagasaki whose history goes back to the 17th century.

Curry Rice (カレーライス) Japanese curry is nothing like any dish from India. Curry was introduced to Japan around 1873, taken from British naval recipes (thick, stew-like dishes) and served in the Imperial Japanese Navy. By the beginning of the 20th century, curry became popular and continues to be a family staple.”

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