Kitchen: Japanese Cooking Ingredients

Ohisashiburi desu! It’s been a while—I’ve been getting settled in a new job, and haven’t quite had the time to myself to do as much as I would have liked the past few weeks.

I was asked before I took a hiatus about Japanese cooking, and coincidentally asked about the translation of one of the ingredients below within the past couple days, which inspired this post! The following infographic explains some basic ingredients and the ‘sa-shi-su-se-so’ flavoring method when adding ingredients:

Intro to Japanese Cooking

Since I didn’t get to fit them in the infographic, find below some ‘extras’ written in Japanese!

紫蘇(しそ)’shiso’: a bitter-ish leaf used as a flavoring.
赤しそ(あかしそ)’aka-shiso’: red shiso
青しそ(あおしそ)’ao-shiso’: green shiso (‘ao’ is used for ‘green’ in some instances!)
梅(うめ)’ume’: pickled plum; comes in many variations of sweet or sour. Usually dyed red.
梅しそ(うめしそ)’ume-shiso’: a combination of ume and shiso (sometimes written ‘shiso-ume’)
柚子(ゆず)’yuzu’: a citrus that tastes a bit like a cross between lemon, orange, and grapefruit. Commonly sold in shoyu or as 柚子胡椒(ゆずこしょう)’yuzu koshou,’ a combination of yuzu and pepper.
ふりかけ ‘furikake’: a dried seaweed topping sprinkled on food. Commonly put on starches (rice, noodles) or on foods as needed (e.g. okonomiyaki).
ポン酢(ぽんず)’ponzu’: a citrus-infused soy sauce. Can be used as gyoza (potstickers) dipping sauce by itself, or as a salad dressing.
出汁(だし)’dashi’: broth made using various ingredients. Some are listed below.

辛口(からくち)’karakuchi’: spicy
中辛(ちゅうから)’chuukara’: medium spiciness
甘口(あまくち)’amakuchi’: mild spiciness
昆布(こんぶ)’konbu’: a type of seaweed, usually used to make dashi.
かつお ‘katsuo’: fish flakes (bonito), also used to make dashi. Can also be sprinkled on foods like furikake.
煮干し(にぼし)’niboshi’: small dried sardines/anchovies used to make dashi.
片栗粉(かたくりこ)’katakuriko’: potato starch
練り(ねり)’neri-‘: ground/paste (ex. neri-ume: ume paste)
ごま油(ごまあぶら)’goma abura’: sesame oil
七味(しちみ)’shichi-mi’: lit. ‘seven flavors’; a blend of seven spices, usually used to make foods spicier. Commonly used in soup/broth dishes (e.g. ramen) or curries.

Some brands to look for include:

Mizkan & Otafuku: Both create a wide range of products that are popular in Japan
Yamasa & Kikkoman: Their bread-and-butter is shoyu, but many of their other sauces & condiments are also great.
S&B: I personally like their small tubes of pastes, including wasabi, mustard, ginger, garlic, etc.
Jounetsu kakaku (情熱価格): This is Don Quijote’s private brand (think Select for Safeway or Great Value for Walmart).

Do you think I’m missing anything? Feel free to leave a comment or ask a question!

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