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The World’s Crazy About It! Japanese "Yoshoku”

↑The innovative "Dressed Omelet" has become a hot topic on SNS for its beautiful draped omelet. Curry-rice, Omurice, or Korokke, which do you like best? Greetings from Japan Culinary Institute (JCI), and welcome to JCI's blog for those looking for opportunities to learn about Japanese cuisine and culture in Japan! Have you ever had Japanese-style curry rice, omurice(Omelet with rice), or korokke? Maybe some of you have even made them! In contrast to "Washoku," which refers to traditional Japanese food, these dishes are called "Yoshoku(Yo means Western)" because they were introduced to Japan from overseas and have taken root in Japan. JCI is currently receiving inquiries from worldwide, as it is a perfect choice to learn typical Yoshoku. This article will introduce how curry rice, omurice, and korokke, which have become the national dishes of the Japanese people, were born! Table of Contents 1. "Yoshoku"; The hybrid of Japanese and Western cuisine 2. Curry rice; Thickened curry that goes well with Japanese rice! 3. Omurice; The marriage of omelet and rice! 4. Korokke; with Crunchy Panko breadcrumbs! 5. Summary

1. "Yoshoku"; The hybrid of Japanese and Western cuisine

↑ Food samples from the Nagoya branch of the long-established Western-style restaurant "Nihonbashi Sandaime Taimeiken." They all look delicious!

For the Japanese, "Yoshoku" is already the national cuisine. In addition to Yoshoku restaurants, many specialty restaurants serve curry rice, omurice, tonkatsu(Japanese pork cutlets), hanbargu(Japanese-style hamburger steak or Salisbury steak), etc. Although we call it "Yoshoku," in contrast to "Washoku," which is traditional Japanese food, it is a favorite cuisine of Japanese people both at home and in restaurants. Reasonable pricing is another reason for their popularity.

The term "Yoshoku" originally refers to a fusion of Japanese and Western cuisine that was arranged to go well with the staple food, rice. At the same time, substituting ingredients that were readily available in Japan during the Meiji era (1868-1912), when the Edo period (the samurai era) ended, modernization progressed, and meat-eating became more common.

The main point is that it goes well with rice, the staple food of the Japanese. For this reason, curry, which initially originated in India, is now called "curry rice" served with rice. And omelets, which are supposed to be served with bread, are now called "omurice" with rice seasoned with ketchup (a composite Japanese name of omelet and rice). Tonkatsu (originally pork cutlet), Ebi-fry(deep-fried shrimp), and korokke are also served with rice and miso soup.

From the late Meiji era (1868-1912) to the Taisho era (1912-1926), Japanese chefs developed a succession of "Japanese-style Western cuisine," with their unique twist on Western dishes to suit the Japanese palate. "Yoshoku restaurants" that served these dishes were born one after another. Nowadays, "Yoshoku" does not mean "Western cuisine" but is recognized as a category of Japanese cuisine. While Western cuisine is called "French cuisine" or "Italian cuisine" after the name of each country. There are many varieties of Yoshoku, but in this article, we will introduce the origins and latest trends of curry rice, omurice, and korokke, which Japanese people especially love. Yoshoku is becoming more and more popular worldwide, and not only will you want to eat it, but you'll also want to make it yourself!

2. Curry rice; Thickened curry that goes well with rice!

“Curry rice" = photo above = which is already highly recognized overseas, is often called "curry" in Japan by omitting "rice''. It is the "national dish of the Japanese people" and ramen in Japan. It is also called rice curry, which is swapped back and forth, so you can see that it is an inseparable dish from rice. While India is widely known as the birthplace of curry, the Japanese recipe for a thick curry sauce made by mixing sauteed flour with curry powder was introduced to Japan from England in the mid-19th century. In the early 20th century, inexpensive Japanese curry powder was released, curry udon noodles were also introduced, and curry quickly became common as a home dish.

↑ Curry udon with soy sauce flavored bonito broth has a Japanese flavor that goes beyond the boundaries of Yoshoku

Furthermore, in 1945, the block-type "instant curry roux (which produces a thick curry sauce when added after stewing vegetables and meat)" was released. As the name implies, anyone could easily make a delicious curry rich and fragrant with spices.Today, there are many curry roux (photo above) available on the market in Japan, with grades of spiciness such as mild, medium, and very hot. There is also a wide variety of ingredients that determine the overall flavor, such as sweet ones made with apples and carefully blended with spices. In Japan, pork is often used for curry rice, but you can arrange it as you like with chicken or beef.

↑ Katsu(Cutlet) and curry, two famous dishes on one plate, make for a hearty cutlet curry Katsu Curry, which is popular in the UK and other countries, originated in a Yoshoku restaurant in Ginza, Tokyo, in 1948. A professional baseball player told a chef at the time that it was too much trouble to eat them separately. Then the chef put pork cutlet on top of curry rice and served it.

↑ Hokkaido's local dish, the less-thick "soup curry" is also served with rice!

↑ "Curry Pan(Bread)" wrapped in rich curry and deep-fried. Here is the ability of the Japanese to mix and match!

3. Omurice; The marriage of omelet and rice!

↑ A classic omurice wrapped with chicken rice seasoned with tomato sauce Omurice is a dish born in Japan, in which rice seasoned with ketchup and other ingredients is wrapped in an omelet. The Japanese name combines the English word omelet (or the French word omelette) and rice.  The first omurice was made at a long-established Yoshoku restaurant in Ginza, called "Renga-tei. At first, rice was mixed with egg liquid and baked. Nowadays, there are many variations depending on the restaurant, such as the half-moon-shaped classic omelet or the thick, semi-cooked omelet with demi-glace sauce.

The most popular Omurice at home is the easy-to-make type in which ketchup rice is wrapped in a thin baked egg. Children and women especially love omurice. Another notable omurice is the "dressed omurice," which has appeared as the top photo on blogs as a photogenic style.  You know, at JCI, you get to try all sorts of styles of omurice!

↑ A fluffy omurice, with a slit in the omelet and a soft and creamy egg flowing out over chicken and rice

↑Omurice with demi-glace sauce that goes well with eggs is also popular

4. Korokke; with Crunchy Panko breadcrumbs!

With its crunchy panko breadcrumb texture, Korokke is an adaptation of the Western dish croquette (French: croquette, Dutch: kroket). It is made by mixing mashed potatoes with minced meat and onions, shaping them, battering them with panko breadcrumbs, and deep-frying them in oil. Korokke is sold inexpensively at butcher shops and supermarkets in town and is popular as a main dish for meals or bento boxes, but is also eaten as a snack. The prototype of korokke is the French dish croquette, which was introduced to Japan in the late 19th century. The original croquette was an elegant, high-class dish with béchamel sauce (rich, creamy sauce). At the "Shiseido Parlor" in Ginza, Tokyo, korokke that still retain a hint of those days are still a favorite on the menu.

↑Shiseido Parlour's "Cream Croquettes," a Synonym for Upscale Yoshoku

↑ ”Menchi,” which is not made of potatoes but filled with ground meat, is popular among men

5. Summary

↑ Omurice at ”Renga-tei," the famous Yoshoku restaurant visited by Chaplin and famous others In 2020, a leading Japanese curry chain opened the first restaurant in India, the motherland of curry. It has become a hot topic. Adjusting to the local food culture, such as using chicken and goat meat instead of beef and pork, was an indispensable challenge to succeed in India. This is an example of how Yoshoku, which was introduced from overseas and took root in Japan, has now spread overseas from Japan and is leading the Yoshoku craze worldwide as the new Japanese cuisine.

Still a lot of potential for Yoshoku!

What's your favorite Yoshoku dish? 

Is there a particular menu item that you would actually like to make?

In JCI's home cooking course, you can learn how to make Tonkatsu, Korokke, Omurice, and other Yoshoku dishes that you will want to eat every day.

If you want to master the popular Yoshoku, JCI is the perfect place for you!

If there are any other Yoshoku dishes that interest you, please feel free to suggest them.

Click here for more information on our home cooking course to learn Yoshoku!

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