Japanese food has a deep relationship with soybeans. We have had lots of products made from soybeans for a long time in Japan. Soy sauce, Miso, Natto, Tofu, Soy milk, Soy powder, Soybean snacks, etc… The reason is because we didn’t have enough meat long ago. Japan is a small island country and we didn’t have enough space for cows or pigs to be raised. Soybeans were an important substitute for meat. For example, Tofu is a popular soybean product and we consume a lot in our daily lives.
We have many kinds of tofu, such as Momen tofu (hard tofu), Kinu tofu (soft silky tofu), Abura Age (deep fried tofu), Atsu Age,(deep fried thick kinu tofu), Koya dofu (freezed dried tofu)Oboro tofu (Young milky tofu), etc. We use tofu for main dishes, side dishes, soups and even for deserts. Japanese popular soup is miso soup which uses fermented soybean product “Miso” for adding taste. Tofu can be eaten raw, as well as boiled, cooked, fried, or deep-fried. For a traditional Japanese breakfast, we eat rice with miso soup, natto, pickled vegetables (sometimes vegetables are pickled in miso), etc. For a traditional Japanese dinner, we have edamame (young green soybeans), hiyyayakko (raw tofu), pickled vegetables, rice and miso soup, and for the main dish, we sometimes have cooked vegetables with tofu instead of fish or meat. Without thinking, Japanese people consume soybean products naturally, which leads us into a healthy life style.
Soybean is very good for health compared to red meat. It has lots of good protein and less cholesterol, less fat, and less calories. It is usually cheaper than meat too. These days, soybean products are not only popular for vegetarians but also for people who are concerned about their health. Soy sauce and miso which are both soybean products are also main ingredients added for taste when we make many Japanese foods. Soy sauce is the essential taste for sushi and sashimi too. Soy products are the foods that Japanese people are proud & appreciative of.