["Yakumi" Is a Condiment That Is Added to Food to Enhance Its Aroma and Flavor]

"Yakumi (薬味)" is a condiment that is added to dishes to enhance their aroma and flavor. It also improves the appearance of dishes. Generally, yakumi includes vegetables (mainly leaves), citrus fruits, root vegetables and seeds, and spices that are also used as spices. In Japan, the culture of yakumi may have developed because of the abundance of sashimi and raw foods.

The word "yakumi" was originally used as a medical term, and the origin of the word comes from the oldest Chinese medicine book "Shennong Honzang Jing" from around the 1st or 2nd century. Foods were classified according to their five tastes (sweet, bitter, sour, spicy, and salty), each of which was believed to have its own efficacy, and it was considered important to include them in the diet according to one's constitution and medical conditions. These five tastes came to be called "yakumi," and the term "kayaku-mi" came to be used to describe the addition of yakumi. "Kayaku" is also found in "kayaku gohan," which is rice cooked with condiments added, and "kayaku" in cup noodles. When Chinese Song medicine was introduced to Japan, ginger became the representative of "kayaku-mi" as an ingredient in Chinese medicine found in Japanese households, and ginger came to be called "yakumi," "kayaku," and "spicy (one of the five flavors)." In the Edo period, other spices such as green onion and pepper were also called kayaku, and kayaku came to mean all ingredients in general.

"Kayaku" refers to takikomi-gohan or gomoku-gohan, which is rice cooked with ingredients, rice, dashi (Japanese soup stock) and other seasonings. In Kansai, it is called "kayaku gohan (kayaku rice)," but the name and ingredients used vary from region to region. In Fukuoka Prefecture, it is called "kashiwa-meshi," in Okinawa "juicy," in Mie Prefecture "aji-gohan," and so on.

The term "ishoku dogen (医食同源)," which is naturally associated with the Chinese term "yakushoku dogen (薬食同源)," is a coined Japanese word that suggests that if one eats healthy foods on a daily basis to maintain one's health, there is no particular need for medicines. In the words of the Greek physician Hippocrates, "Let thy food be thy medicine, and thy medicine be thy food. If a disease cannot be cured by food, neither can a physician cure it. We should make good use of "yakumi" and "kayaku gohan" to enjoy healthy meals.

Oya Seisakusho's Copper Grater
Kiya's Yakumiyose
Suzuki's Hagama Rice Pot
Hakusan Porcelain's Hirachawan