Previously, I wrote about yohshoku , or Japanese-style western cuisine. Prompted by a question from Elise, I've done a bit more research on this. (Much of this is gathered from a book in the Just Look Just Cook cookbook series from Yomiuri Shimbun Co., called "Yoshoku in Japan". (Note that it can be spelled Yohshoku or Yoshoku.))
There are two types of Western-style cooking in Japan. One is the authentic kind, that is available in real French, Italian, etc. restaurants. The other kind is the type of western-style cooking that has been adapted to Japanese tastes, and into Japanese homes as part of everyday cooking. Japanese people are very adept at adopting a foreign culture and making it part of their own, and food is no exception. In general, yohshoku can be classified as western-style food that has been changed and adapted so that it fits well with rice rather than with bread - thus making it uniquely Japanese.
Here are the basic ingredients used for yohshoku.
- Bechamel sauce, aka "white sauce". A sauce made by thickening flavored milk with a butter and flour roux. Canned or vacuum-packed white sauce is a kitchen staple in Japan.
- Demi-glace sauce is soup stock that has been reduced until thick and gelatinous. This is also a kitchen staple in Japan (canned or in jars).
- Tomato sauce or canned tomatoes.
- Meat sauce - made with ground beef and tomato sauce. This is also widely available canned in Japan, though many people make their own of course.
- Mayonnaise. The most popular brand in Japan is called Kewpie, and it's a thick, yellow mayonnaise. To me, it's the most delicious commercial brand, almost as good as making your own.
- Soup stock cubes. (The big brands in Japan are the Swiss - Knorr and Maggi.)
- Grated cheese. In Japan most people use the pre-grated kinds.
- Herbs used mainly as decoration, but for flavoring too: parsley, chervil, arugula, and dill. (You never used to see arugula in cookbooks until the last 10 years or so, but parsley, chervil and dill have been around for ages.) Bay leaf is also used a lot for soups and stews.