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What Is Sakana?

By A. Leverkuhn
Updated May 16, 2024
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Sakana is a sort of Japanese food. These foods could be called appetizers, and are frequently eaten along with alcoholic drinks. Most often, they are served in smaller plates and can often be quite salty. They are meant to be foods that can soak up alcohol and prevent increased inebriation. Some associate the word sakana with fish because of its meaning in Japanese, which can refer to dried fish.

One common characteristic of sakana dishes is that they do not usually include rice, which many other Japanese dishes do. Experts explain this as a result of the fact that the tradition Japanese liquor, or sake, is made from rice, and eating rice along with it would be redundant. Apart from the absence of rich, however, many different varieties of food represent this kind of Japanese cuisine.

As mentioned, these foods are often part of a small plate serving style. In this way, they are similar to other types of cuisine around the world. Perhaps the most prominent of small plate foods in world restaurants is the Spanish “tapas," where many different dishes are served in small portions, on small plates. Some food experts who contrast sakana and tapas point out that, in general, the Japanese variant is usually more filling than tapas.

Some forms of this type of Japanese cuisine are composed of either fish or other meats. A dish involving grilled skewers of chicken can be a form of this cuisine, and some of these dishes include sausage. Some other more exotic fish items also can be on the menu where this kind of food is served. These include different kinds of roe or eggs from fish, sea urchins and other sea creatures. The squid, a staple in Japanese cooking, can also be used in this kind of food.

Other kinds of sakana plates are vegetarian. For example, the Korean dish called kimchi, a spicy fermented cabbage, is sometimes listed in this category of foods. Other kinds of pickles may also be included. Another common form of sakana is edamame, which is basically salted and steamed soybeans. Edamame is a very common snack anywhere that Japanese food is enjoyed. All of these could be part of a sakana-style presentation in a Japanese restaurant or other venue. In their original areas, these foods are often served in a particular kind of small bar known for the combination of food and drink mentioned above.

DelightedCooking is dedicated to providing accurate and trustworthy information. We carefully select reputable sources and employ a rigorous fact-checking process to maintain the highest standards. To learn more about our commitment to accuracy, read our editorial process.
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