The Most Important Ingredient for Japanese Cuisine/日本料理で一番大事な食材

Japanese Food Japanese ice cream

I haven’t talked about the most important ingredient for Japanese cuisine: soft water. Japanese cuisine absolutely calls for soft water.

Generally, the water in Kanto (Eastern Japan, which includes Tokyo) is harder than that in Kansai (Western Japan, which includes Kyoto and Osaka), and this is one reason why dried bonito was used in Kanto for dashi, while kombu was used in Kansai. You cannot extract umami components from kombu if the water is hard.

The other reason why kombu was popular in Kansai is that it was easy to ship kombu from Hokkaido, where it was collected, to Kansai via the Sea of Japan, but not easy to ship it to Kanto via the Pacific Ocean.

I once did some google search, and I was glad to find that the water here in my area was very soft (hardness: 16).

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