Yohshoku or yoshoku (or youshoku): Japanese-style Western cuisine
So far I have been writing about Japanese foods that are quite traditional. The flavors are based on the SaShiSuSeSo of sugar, salt, rice vinegar, soy sauce and miso, plus the all-important dashi soup stock. In Japan, this kind of food is called washoku, or quite literally “Japanese food”.
Washoku is not the only kind of “Japanese cuisine” however. Japanese culture has always freely incorporated ideas and aspects of other cultures, often adapting it to an extent that it somehow becomes uniquely Japanese. Food is no exception. Chinese food (mostly of Cantonese origin), called chuuka has been incorporated into everyday household cooking, so that some items are as familiar as onigiri or miso soup. Many European style dishes have been incorporated too, and adapted to Japanese tastes. These adapted European style of cooking is called yohshoku or youshoku, which can be translated as “Western food”.
Yohshoku is not the same as imported cuisines that have been kept true to their origins. There are as many authentic Italian, French, and other restaurants in Tokyo as there are in any other major international city. Yohshoku is western style cuisine that was introduced a long time ago, and the well known dishes in this genre would be totally foreign in any other country. Some items that were originally introduced as yohshoku are so well entrenched in Japanese food culture that they straddle the line between washoku (Japanese) and yohshoku (Western).
In the last few decades as more Japanese people traveled overseas and the demand for “authentic” foreign cuisine increased, yohshoku became rather unfashionable. However in the last decade or so, yohshoku has made a comeback of sorts, on a wave of nostalgia for anything associated with the Showa period (the reign of the former Emperior Hirohito). There are even some celebrity chefs, such as Gucchi Yuzo, who specialize in re-introducing modernized versions of yohshoku.
Typical yohshoku items include things like omuraisu (rice omelette), hayashi raisu (hashed beef stew), kareh raisu (Japanese style curry), korokke (croquettes), hambaagaa (Japanese style hamburger), tonkatsu (deep fried pork cutlet), gyuudon (beef bowl) and howaito shichuu (stew made with a bechamel sauce).
Recipes (so far) on Just Hungry for these items, to be updated as they’re added:
- Japanese potato salad (and a vegan version)
- Japanese beef curry
- Japanese dry curry
- Corn cream soup
- Hayashi rice, Japanese beef stew
- Japanese hamburgers
- Menchikatsu, breaded and deep fried hamburger
- Spaghetti Napolitan (Also, although wafuu pasta (Japanese style pasta) is not generaly considered to be _yohshoku_ in Japan, it fits into the Japan-meets-West genre.)
- Kyabetsu no kasaneni - layered cabbage casserole
- Japanese Scotch Egg (on Just Bento)
[Update:] See my take on that NY Times article about yohshoku!