Japan, love of soy and fermented foods

Discovering the rich array of local cuisines by immersing yourself in the diverse offerings of supermarkets across the globe, one aisle at a time. 

Discovering the world – One supermarket at a time

Recently, my husband shared an article from a food-loving Aussies, thinking it was about me. The article mentioned that she visits supermarkets whenever she travels overseas, and that totally me! There’s nothing quite like visiting local supermarkets and exploring the local foods and discovering unique items you can’t find back at home and sometimes cheaper! I’ve been to countless supermarkets, so much that my husband gets mad and annoyed at me because I want to visit these places more than once! Nevertheless for me it’s an adventure and a joy to be able to do this!

The writer mentioned interesting topics that I’ve never realised! Supermarkets can be considered like the hidden treasure, it offers glimpses into the local lifestyle through their products or packaging. They’re just another way where I can discover new flavours and understand the food culture. It’s just much more than a typical supermarket to locals, for us it’s a new adventure every single time! 

A supermarket in the heart of New York

For example, the writer who recently visited a supermarket in New York, was amazed by the wide selection of guacamole. I knew whenever I visited the US there was an abundance of fantastic Mexican restaurants thanks to the proximity to Mexico and the rise of immigrants and the quality was always AMAZING. Who would’ve thought that in a supermarket in NY there would be a wide selection of guacamole and many varieties of it – something you wouldn’t see in Australia! 

Of course this also applies to the range of cereal they have – far more than in Australia. I had assumed it would be similar to what a brand like Kellogg’s offers to us, however the US has cultivated a much stronger breakfast cereal culture in the US than we have back home. 

Types of guacamole

        Many types of guacamole in the US

Supermarkets in Japan 

How about Japan? Japan is known for its incredible longevity and a large part of this can be attributed to its diet. As a country that has embraced soy products as a staple, you’ll be shocked to see the amount of soy products available in Japanese supermarkets! However we can also see the difference in soy product in Western countries. Soy often has a bad name, largely due to the prevalence of it being genetically modified (GMO) that could potentially cause adverse reactions in the body. However, in Japan soy is typically consumed in its natural processed form that are back with nutrients and health benefits. So, what makes this high-protein legume so beneficial

Soy Health Benefits

  • May help in reducing risk of health problems such as cardiovascular disease, stroke, coronary heart diseases 
  • Improve in bone health 
  • High in protein – helps in maintain muscle mass
  • Lowers cholesterol levels

Japan’s soy range 

Japan’s selection of soy products have always been a part of Japanese people’s diet since long ago. The most popular and globally well-known soy product we all know of is tofu, which is made from curdling fresh soy milk and pressing the curds into blocks.  



Beyond tofu, there is also a wide variety of soy products – below is deep fried tofu products  ( my favourites!!! ). 


A deep-fried thin silken tofu, it is versatile and can be used in dishes like inari sushi or soups like miso soup. Unfortunately in Sydney, I can only find frozen aburaage, but in Japan, it’s available fresh and is simply delightful. 




Atsuage or  thick deep-fried tofu is thickly sliced pieces of firm tofu that are deep fried creating a crispy exterior and keeping the inside soft. This ingredient can be used in many dishes such as soups or stir-fries.  




Ganmodoki or fried tofu patties are made of mashed tofu, mixed with veggies like carrots and shiitake mushrooms. It can be enjoyed as a side dish or used as an ingredient for oden (fish cake stew)! 



Fermented foods 

Not only does Japan’s diet include a variety of soy products, but it is also rich in fermented foods. Did you know Japanese basic cooking ingredients such as soy sauce, mirin, sake, rice vinegar and miso are all fermented! These fermented foods are known for their probiotic benefits that promote gut health and improvements for digestion and immunity.  

Health benefits of fermented foods 

  • Improve digestion: breaks down food and absorb nutrients more efficiently 
  • Lower risk for certain diseases like type 2 diabetes or heart disease 
  • Helps balance good and bad bacteria in your intestinal tract
  • Strengthen the immune system: Around 70% of the immune system is located in the gut, a healthy gut can improve overall well-being 


A common staple in Japanese households, miso is known for its versatility and ease of use in sauces and marinades. It can be stored for months in your pantry or refrigerator. In Japan, the options for miso are endless! The miso section is like a treasure hunt for alive, real-deal miso among a sea of dead imposters, but once found, it’s totally worth it! 

Click on the image or here to check out my instagram of the wide variety of miso in Japan!



Another common staple in Japan is Natto!


Natto, the fermented soybeans. Breakfast staple in Japan  

Natto, a traditional Japanese dish crafted from fermented soybeans, boasts a unique aroma and texture, often noted for its nutty flavour. It is characterised by its stringy, sticky consistency, making it one of the rare processed foods where the soybeans maintain their original shape and mouthfeel. 

I tried taking a picture of my cat with some natto, but as soon as he smelled it, he ran away! Check out the moment here!



Tsukemono are traditional pickled vegetables, often served as a side dish or garnish. It can be made from a variety of vegetables, including cucumbers, radish, carrots etc. Their umami flavour comes from the long fermentation process. However it’s important to double check the ingredients on store-bought versions, as many brands prefer to cut the lengthy fermentation process by adding MSG to reduce time and cut costs.  


Tsukemono, the fermented vegetable  

Japanese food in Australia

I miss the experience of savouring freshly made tofu, aburaage, and other deep-fried soy delights. While Sydney offers options for freshly made tofu, they are not as commonplace as I’d like, often sourced from Korean or Vietnamese markets. 

However, I acknowledge Sydney is still blessed with access to a variety of fresh soy products. From tofu and aburaage to soy milk and miso, these essentials of Japanese cuisine are available if you know where to look. 


Click HERE or on the image below to catch my video! 



Do you know I run a cooking school in Sydney?

Please come and join my healthy Japanese superfoods cooking class in Sydney. We offer vegan, vegetarian, gluten-free cooking classes that are filled with tasty and easy recipes. You will learn not only cooking skills and tips but also how to use Japanese ancient wisdom on a daily basis for your health, energy, and beauty! Don’t be afraid to make it a group event, corporate team building cooking classes, hens party cooking classes and other group classes are available, the more the merrier! Join my cooking class from HERE or leave me an inquiry HERE.


You don’t live in Sydney?

Don’t worry, there are two ways to learn Japanese cooking with me.

NEW Japanese online cooking classes coming soon! More information to come, subscribe HERE so you don’t miss out!

Plant Based Cookbooks

If you want to cook more easy and tasty Japanese vegan meals using Japanese superfoods – real key for Japanese health, please grab my vegan cookbook “Japanese Superfoods” or “Top 3 Japanese Superfoods for Natural Weightloss” or even better, you can have “Japanese Superfoods combo deal” to master Japanese Superfoods.

AND I am creating online Japanese cooking classes right now so stay tuned! I will let you know when it is ready!

Happy Japanese superfoods cooking xx

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