We are settling back into a routine now that I’ve been back for over a week. One of the most delightful parts of being in Japan is the food. There are so many wonderful things available at the supermarket and I often tell Matthias, “Ah, I’m in food heaven!” I am especially fond of veggies in Japan. I recently discovered there are major health benefits to some of my favorites. I thought I’d share a few photos of foods I enjoy that might be a bit unusual in the U.S. I should note that except for meat and eringi, Matthias doesn’t like these things.

Konnyaku – also known as “devil’s tongue,” konnyaku is a jelly-like food made from a kind of potato called “konnyaku potato.” Honestly, it doesn’t have much of a taste (perhaps a bit salty) but the texture is incredible. In addition to block form, it also comes in long, thin strings (ito konnyaku) which is fun to eat in sukiyaki.
Nagaimo (Chinese yam)- This root is known to help reduce high blood pressure, regulate digestion and relieve fatigue. It contains many nutrients such as magnesium, zinc, vitamin C, and vitamin B1.
This hairy potato-like vegetable is very slimy which makes it tricky to peel. I love to slice it and serve it with ginger pork. It is a bit crunchy and sooo good!

See the slime?

Renkon (lotus root) – An excellent source of dietary fibers and vitamin C, it also has healthy amounts of copper, iron, zinc, magnesium, and manganese.

One way I like to cook lotus root is to peel, slice, and fry it with soy sauce, vinegar, and sesame oil and then add tuna fish. It looks so pretty when it is sliced, just like art!

Jako fish – yes, indeed these are itty bitty fish! They are super yummy sprinkled over rice and full of calcium.

Yikes, you can see the eyes!

Meat! – I love that in Japan you can buy beef and pork sliced very thinly – this is so great for a stir fry or marinating. The meat in the package below is called kiriotoshi. In NJ, I have not seen meat cut like this although I suppose you could make a special request.

In Japan, this type of meat is popular for various dishes including gyudon (beef bowl):
Eringi mushrooms – We love to eat these sliced thinly and fried with butter and soy sauce. So delicious!

Before…and after!

Enoki mushrooms – A good source of iron and niacin, these pretty little snowy white mushrooms are crunchy and delicious in a stir fry or nabe (hot pot).

These mushrooms come from the package in one big clump so the first thing you need to do is cut off the bottom before cooking with enoki.

I should add, most of these foods, if not all, are available in the U.S. at Asian supermarkets like H-Mart but the prices are rather expensive compared to Japan.