4 Japanese Foods and Ingredients That Are Hard to Get in Europe
People who come to Europe as expatriates, people who find a job locally, people who get a working holiday visa, people who come to study or do research, people who come with their husbands or wives, or people who marry their European lovers. Japanese people from various backgrounds live in various countries in Europe, such as those who come to immigrate and, of course, those who come to Europe on vacation.
Food is a problem that every Japanese living in Europe worries about. The eating habits of Japanese living abroad are very different from those of Europeans.
However, due to this difference in eating habits, it is often the case that you cannot find the ingredients you used to buy in Japan even when you go to your local supermarket. Also, it is not uncommon to find the same ingredients, but when you buy them, the taste is completely different from that of Japan. Let's take a look at the hard-to-find ingredients and things with different tastes that Japanese people face in Europe.
Difficulty in procuring ingredients for many Japanese overseas
The number of Japanese residents in each country and the degree of expansion of Japanese companies vary from country to country. Compared to other European countries, the UK, Germany, and France have a relatively large number of Japanese companies operating in them, and as many Japanese people live there, it is easy to access Japanese foods.
On the other hand, as you go to Eastern Europe, the number of Japanese residents will decrease, and the demand for Japanese food will decrease, so the amount handled will decrease and the difficulty of procurement will increase. There are similar foods in Chinese and Korean brands, but this time I will exclude them and talk about Japanese brand foods.
Hon mirin and cooking sake
Hard-to-find condiments that are surprisingly hard to come by are hon-mirin and cooking sake, which are often used in making Japanese food. You can find mirin-style seasonings in Asian shops and Japanese food stores, but you won't find hon mirin very often.
There is a reason for this, since Hon mirin and cooking sake contain alcohol. Both hon mirin and cooking sake have an alcohol content of around 14% and are taxed.
Also, depending on the country, there are regulations on the sale of food containing alcohol, and it is necessary to obtain a separate permit to sell alcohol. For example, in Sweden, beverages with an alcohol content of 3.5% or more cannot be sold in supermarkets, and products with alcohol content of 3.5% or more can only be sold at a state-run store called Systembolaget . However, Systembolaget is a shop that sells liquor for drinking, so it does not handle food for cooking.
In this way, depending on the country, it is difficult for retailers to sell hon mirin and cooking sake due to the influence of regulations, and the liquor tax is imposed, so the price is also high, making it difficult for retailers to sell.
On the other hand, mirin-style seasonings have an alcohol content of less than 1% , so they are not subject to liquor tax and are inexpensive, making them easy to handle in European supermarkets.
It is commonly used as an accompaniment to tofu and okonomiyaki, or as a soup stock.Katsuobushi is a standard ingredient in rice balls, and katsuobushi is a familiar product that is treasured by Japanese people, but it is also difficult to obtain in Europe. .
Those of you who have been to or lived in Europe may have noticed that you never see katsuobushi, but why is there no katsuobushi in Europe in the first place?
Katsuobushi contains a carcinogenic substance called "benzopyrene," which adheres to katsuobushi during the production process and exceeds the EU standards. Japanese people may be surprised and wonder if katsuobushi, which they have been eating for many years, is bad for their health.
Katsuobushi is available in some parts of Europe, but the foods sold are products that meet EU standards. Katsuobushi is such a complicated matter, but there is one interesting incident in the story of katsuobushi in the EU .
Expo Milano 2015 was held in Italy. Japan saw the Milan Expo as a great opportunity to promote Japanese food in Italy and Europe, and aimed to promote Japanese food on a large scale. However, katsuobushi will be caught in the food import regulations introduced above. Therefore, the Japanese government negotiated with the EU and others, and was granted a special exception that it could only be used as a special measure for consumption within the Milan Expo site.
For Japanese people, katsuobushi is one of the basic seasonings that can be bought at any supermarket, but katsuobushi, which is indispensable for making dashi, is a food that Japan and the EU are moving together nationally.
sliced or minced meat
Sliced and shredded meat is a popular ingredient for Japanese people who appears in various dishes for those who cook, such as ginger-grilled pork, gyudon, and stir-fried dishes.
However, in fact, meat cut like this is rarely seen in European supermarkets. In Europe, when we talk about meat, we tend to think of it as steak, stewed dishes, or minced meat such as hamburgers and meatballs, and there are no dishes that use sliced or shredded meat.
Supermarkets and butchers have slicers, so if you ask the clerk, you may be able to get sliced meat. In some cases, the meat is not sliced or shredded as intended, and pork is not mixed with Muslim halal meat (is the meat made in an Islamic certified manner?).
If you go to a store that sells Japanese ingredients or an Asian shop, you can buy it, but there are different difficulties than the ones introduced above.
Mirin and katsuobushi can be purchased online as long as they are available, but the difficult part about meat is that both thinly sliced and shredded meat are fresh foods, so they cannot be purchased online.
If you can't buy it in your living area, it's very troublesome, but you can only buy a home slicer and cut the meat yourself.
Pickles go very well with rice, but in Europe, the staple food is potatoes and bread, so Japanese pickles are hard to find.
You can still find takuan and gari for sushi, but pickled cucumbers and shibazuke are much more difficult to find.
In addition, there are many types of pickles, from major pickles to those that are not widely distributed in certain regions, but it is rare to find such local pickles in Europe.
For example, Takana-zuke is a relatively popular pickle in Kyushu. Takana pickles are familiar to Japanese people because they are topped with pork bone ramen and other dishes, but for those from Kyushu, it is one of the pickles that they usually eat. However, takana pickles are hard to find in Europe, as they are only available in some places such as London.
Pickles are so-called " acquired taste " foods in English. In other words, it becomes a food that you get accustomed to eating and feel delicious, and it is rare for foreigners to feel that it is delicious immediately after eating it for the first time.
Since it is the kind of food that you gradually come to like after eating it a few times, you can hardly expect demand from Chinese and Koreans. is.