EAT-JAPAN RECIPES Glossay

One of the strength of Japanese cuisine is its diversity and the wide range of novel ingredients that may not be well known in other parts of the world. This can, however, lead to confusion over names, translations and varieties of ingredients and that's where our Japanese Food Glossary comes in.

A wide range of essential Japanese ingredients is listed, all with Japanese name, English translation, clear full colour image and full description.


Kome Koji :: Rice Malt

Rice malt, used as a fermented food starter, is made by inoculating steamed rice with the Aspergillus oryzae mould. Versatile seasonings, such as shio koji (rice malt with salt) and shoyu koji (rice malt with soy sauce) can be made by adding salt and soy sauce to rice malt then fermenting. Rice malt products impart a mellow sweetness to stir-fries and simmered dishes, draw out the natural deliciousness of meat and fish, and can be used as a dip or sauce.

 

Dagashi :: Assorted Confectionery

Literally meaning 'cheap sweets', dagashi are assorted traditional confectionery. Their unrefined shapes and old-fashioned flavours still appeal to Japanese people today. Varieties of dagashi include: karinto, made from wheat and sugar, fried and coated with melted brown sugar; boro, biscuits made from wheat, buckwheat or potato starch and egg which were brought to Japan from Portugal around 450 years ago; and mamegashi, which come in many varieties, are made from soy beans, peanuts and other beans or nuts coated with wheat or sugar, and are crispy and puffy in texture.

 

Curry / Stew Roux :: Japanese Curry / Stew Roux

Introduced to the country by British traders in the 19th century, curry and rice has become a firm favourite in Japan. It is usually made by frying and boiling the meat and vegetables then adding a premixed curry roux. There are many varieties of roux, ranging from mild to very spicy. Two kinds of roux can be mixed in order to get the desired flavour. Pre-cooked vacuum-packed curries with meat and vegetables are an even easier option. Similarly, there are roux for stews, as well as convenient pre-cooked packet forms.

 

Chukamen / Ramen :: Chinese Noodles

Chukamen noodles are made from wheat flour kneaded together with egg, salt and a special kind of carbonated water. The noodles come in different styles, the most common being long and cylindrical, but there are also curled and flattened varieties. Chukamen are most commonly served in soup in the hugely popular dish ramen, which has three basic flavours: soy sauce, salt and miso. Ingredients such as pork, fried vegetables and seaweed are often added. Chinese noodles are also served cold in summer in a dish called hiyashi chuka.

 

Benishoga :: Red Ginger

Benishoga is one of the most popular types of pickled ginger in Japan, along with gari. Instantly recognisable due to its bright red colour which it gets from the red perilla leaf, it is pickled in a solution left over from the production of umeboshi pickled apricots. It is then usually shredded, and sprinkled on a wide range of popular dishes including o-konomiyaki (savoury pancakes), yakisoba (stir-fried noodles) and gyudon (beef and rice bowl), to which it adds an invigoratingly sharp flavour.

 

Harusame :: Bean Noodles

Harusame are translucent, thin noodles, originally made in China from the starch of ryokuto (green mung beans). The Japanese adapted the main ingredient to create noodles from potato and sweet potato starch. This method became widespread during the post-war period and remains popular in Japan today. Harusame noodles are available in dried form and need to be soaked in water before using. They have a naturally tender texture that lends itself to a variety of dishes including soups and salads.

 

Biwa :: Loquat

A yellow fruit with large seeds, similar to small plums in size and shape, biwa have a succulent, juicy flesh which combines a delicately sweet taste with a distinctive acidity. Biwa are known for their health-giving properties and are particularly rich in vitamins C, B1 and B2. Biwa can be eaten either raw or processed to make various types of jellied confectionery or used to make delicious jam. They can even be used to produce a sweet liqueur.

 

Enokidake :: Winter Mushroom

Enoki dake is one of the most widely-consumed mushrooms in Japan. It is easily recognisable, composed of bunches of small mushrooms on very thin stalks. As the wild variety of enoki dake resists cold well, and can thrive even in snowy conditions, it is also known as yuki-no-shita (“under the snow”) or winter mushrooms. Its light, subtle savoury flavour makes it a highly-adaptable ingredient that can be used in many dishes, but it is most commonly found in miso soup, nabe hotpots and sukiyaki.

 

Asatsuki :: Japanese Chive

The thin Japanese chive asatsuki has been used for centuries in Japanese cuisine. It is high in nutrients with a lot of protein, vitamins and calcium. Its leaves have a pleasantly hot, spicy flavour which has long made them prized for use in seasoning dishes. Like negi (welsh onion), it has a strong aroma and a flavour not dissimilar to garlic, and can be used to reduce the odour of raw fish and meat. Asatsuki is also often used as a garnish for hiyayakko (chilled tofu).

 

Daikon :: Giant White Radish

This distinctive large carrot-shaped white radish is rich in vitamins and fibre, with a crisp, peppery taste. The leaf and stem contain more vitamin C, calcium and iron than the root. Daikon is eaten in a variety of ways including simmered dishes, salads and hotpot dishes. It can also be eaten either grated (daikon oroshi) or as pickles (takuan). Grated daikon with soy sauce is a common garnish on grilled fish, steaks or hamburgers, and is a common ingredient in salads. Kaiware (daikon sprouts) are a common garnish for sushi and salads.

 

Chikuwa :: Grilled Fish Paste

Chikuwa, which literally means “bamboo ring”, is so called because it resembles the cut end of a bamboo stalk. Seasoned white fish paste is skewered on bamboo or metal spits, then grilled or steamed, although the former is more common nowadays. Usually eaten chilled as a side dish, often dipped in soy sauce or used to accompany beer or sake, chikuwa makes a good low-fat source of protein. It can also be used in o-den or grilled and eaten hot.

 

Aonori :: Green Nori Flakes

Aonori is a variety of aromatic seaweed used as a garnish or for seasoning in many Japanese dishes, usually sprinkled in dried flake form over hot food such as yakisoba (fried noodles), o-konomiyaki (savoury pancake), or added to tempura batter. Protein rich, it also contains beneficial minerals such as calcium, magnesium and amino acids. Aonori occurs naturally in the calm, warm water of the bays of the south of Japan, where its cultivation is a major industry.

 

Abura-age / Atsuage / Ganmodoki :: Fried Tofu

Tofu's mild taste makes it very versatile. Abura-age is thinly sliced momendofu, fried in oil until it swells fully, and then again at a higher temperature. This keeps the tofu's original texture on the inside while the outer skin stays crisps. It is popularly used in miso soup and noodle soup or used to make inarizushi (sweetened and cooked aburaage filled with sushi rice). Atsuage is the name for deep-fried tofu block, while ganmodoki is a fried tofu dumpling made with vegetables and sesame seeds.

 

Kenko / Eiyo Drink :: Health / Energy Drinks

Commonly found in drug stores and convenience stores in an array of small bottles, there is a vast market in Japan for drinks which can give you a burst of energy for those long working days or for recovering after a night of drinking. An aging population and increasing health awareness has driven the boom in health drinks. Varieties include those with added royal jelly and vitamin C. Recently, fruit-flavoured drinking vinegar has become popular because of its perceived health properties.

 

Bancha :: Regular Green Tea

Bancha is a grade of sencha made from tea leaves harvested towards the end of the growing season. As the leaves used are coarser than those used for other sencha, it is regarded as being of slightly lower grade, but its sweetness and smooth taste make it the most commonly drunk type of sencha. Bancha has a high concentration of polyphenols giving bancha powerful antioxidant properties, and it is believed to strengthen the immune system. It has a milder flavour compared to other sencha and goes well with food.

 

Fu :: Dried Wheat Gluten Dough

Made from dried wheat gluten, fu is a highly digestible spongy dough and is available in various forms, including fresh (nama fu) or roasted (yaki fu). Originating in China, fu has been produced in Japan for hundreds of years. It is used in a number of Japanese dishes such as miso and o-suimono soups and sukiyaki (a beef and vegetable dish). It has been recognised as a valuable source of protein in classic Japanese kaiseki ryori (formal cuisine) and shojin ryori (Buddhist vegetarian cuisine).

 

Dashi :: Japanese Soup Stock

Dashi is one of the stocks which form the basis of almost all Japanese cooking. Dashi is commonly made by heating katsuobushi (dried bonito flakes), konbu (kelp), shiitake mushroom or iriko (sardine) and draining off the resultant broth. It is used for flavouring dishes such as soups, nabe (hot pots), sauces and rice dishes. Dashi in easy-to-mix powdered form is very popular as it can be used to produce authentic-tasting Japanese cuisine without the effort that making stock from scratch entails.

Click here for the basic recipe for dashi soup stock.

 

Awamori :: Okinawan Rice Spirit

Awamori is an alcoholic beverage produced in the southern islands of Okinawa. Although made from rice, it differs from sake in that it is distilled not brewed, and uses Thai Indica rice rather than short-grained Japonica rice. The method for distilling Awamori was first introduced to Okinawa from Thailand in the 15th century, and was refined using a unique white koji mould indigenous to Okinawa. Awamori is an extremely robust drink, and can be 60% proof, with its alcohol content rising further as it ages.

 

One of the strength of Japanese cuisine is its diversity and the wide range of novel ingredients that may not be well known in other parts of the world. This can, however, lead to confusion over names, translations and varieties of ingredients and that's where our Japanese Food Glossary comes in.

A wide range of essential Japanese ingredients is listed, all with Japanese name, English translation, clear full colour image and full description.


 

Ice Cream :: Japanese Ice Cream

As well as the regular flavours familiar in the West, Japanese ice creams are also available in some flavours specific to the country's culinary tradition. Matcha ice cream, made from the thick bright green tea used in the Japanese tea ceremony, is an extremely popular dessert. Ice cream can also be made using an, the sweet red bean paste which is a mainstay of Japanese confectionery and desserts. Delicious ice creams can also be made from kabocha (Japanese pumpkin) and kuri (chestnut).

 
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