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Glossary of Ingredients



Aburage: Thinly cut Tofu that is drained and fried in oil. Use for inarizushi, that why it is called inariage. Also called usuage. It made from vegetable but has a full flavor like meat making it essential for shojin dishes (vegetarian dishes) or nimono. Remove oil by sokng in boiling water.

Anago: Thin and long fish looks like eel. It inhabits in the sand of muddy waters of river mouth where sea water and fresh water mix. Because of the trouble to debone and cook, it is convenient to buy pre-broiled anago.

Aonori: Nori finely crumbled powder-like. It's called Ao (green) Nori for it's very vivid green color. It is used for topping okonomiyaki, with tororojiru (grated Yamaimo) or combining with mochi.

Asatsuki is a kind of green onion that is often used to garnish dishes. It is more green than white and much thinner than wakegi.



Buri: Buri's name changes depending on the maturity of the fish and region. Buri is the name for 1m long adult fish. Hamachi is also the name for same fish, used on sushi and as sashimi. Kanburi is the name for the more fatty winter buri.

Chirimenjako: Juevinile sardines boiled with salt and sun dried. Also called shirasuboshi.

Chuka Soba: Chinese noodles are made by adding baking soda and water to flour. It is then kneaded, rolled, and cut into noodles. These noodles are available freshly made, steamed or dried. Boil fresh or dried noodles such as Ramen, in plenty of water. Steamed noodles are used for yakisoba- fried noodles. Fry steamed noodle before making katayakisoba (Crispy yakisoba). Instant Ramen and other cup noodles are popular because they are easy to prepare.

Curry Ru is the concentracted solid extract made by thickening flour, butter and oil, then adding meat and spices in a frying pan. Pre-made curry ru is very convenient and easy to use.



Fu: knead wheat, salt and water mix until sticky, after rinsing gluten is formed. This is raw fu. Raw fu has a texture of raw mochi, it is chewy. When it is formed and colored decoratively, it is used in Kyoto dishes such as nimono and wandane. Raw fu added with starch or wheat flour and baked is yakifu. Marufu and kurumafu are types of yakifu. Soak in water to return it to it's original form and use.

Fuki: Found everywhere in the country side of Japan. Use young unopened leaves in spring time. Yamabuki and mizubuki there are two kinds. Remove harshness by itazuri befor cooking, then boil and peel.

Fukujinzuke is always used as relish with curry. Daikon nasu renkon are finely chopped. Soysauce is the base for pickling. Fukujinzuke has a crunchy texture. The name originates from the tale of 7 saints of ancient days. The original fukujinzuke consists of 7 different kind of vegetables.

Furikake and Omusubi no Moto are usually sprinkled on top of rice but can also be mixed into omusubi (rice balls) or used to cover them. There are many varieties of furikake on the market but most are a mixture of seaweed, sesame seeds and katsubushi and flavorings. Home-made furikake can be made with salted salmon or tarako.

Ganmodoki: see tofu.

Goma Abura is made from pressed sesame seeds. It has a pleasant aroma. It is used in Chinese dishes for it's flavor. The one for tempura is sold combined with natane (colza) oil and soybean oil .



Hetto(Suet) was the name for any animal fat but now only refers to beef suet. Due to its high temperature melting point, if not eaten immediately after cooking it becomes waxy on tongue. It is not used often but essential for sukiyaki.

Irigoma is toasted, finely ground black or white sesame seeds. It is sold in this form. Freshly toasted and ground, irigoma is more flavorful. Kirigoma is cut sesame seeds and nerigoma is sesame paste.

Itokonyaku: See Shirataki.


Kabocha (pumpkin): Japanese and Western pumpkins are different varieties. Both contain large amounts of sugar and Vitamin A. Pumpkins keep well for a while. Use them in nimono, fried and in desserts.

Kamaboko: A typical fish cake made of ground fish meat. Sold in semi-circle slabs placed on a wooden board, Kamaboko has been either steamed or lightly broiled already. It is delicious in any nabe dish. wasabi and soy sauce add well with it's flavor. Remove board before using.

Kanpyou: A kind of gourd slice into long thin strips and dried. Soaked in water, used for fillings of makizushi.

Katsuobushi are dried bonito flakes. Kezuribushi are finely shaved flakes used in dashijiru and as a topping. Flake size varies, depending on dish. These flakes are made from smoked blocks (sanmaioroshi) of bonito fish, There are lower quality flakes made from saba or sanma.

Kinome: see sansho

Kisu are 10-30 cm long small fish. White kisu are tastier than the blue. Kisu has little fat so it fries well.

Konakatsuo: powdered katsuobushi. This is used as a seasoning in furikake and aegoromo and also as a topping on okonomiyaki to add flavor.

Konbu is a kind of kelp. Makonbu and Rishirikonbu are famous. Dark , thick and slightly sweet is higher quality konbu. It is sold dried. There are many different ways to dry and wrap konbu, somtimes it is seen as a work of art. Varieties are available for making dashi, eating as it is, salted or tsukudani.

Konnyaku: Konnyaku is made from Konnyaku potato, a member of the Taro potato family. It is dried, powdered and added with hydolic to solidify. It is produced in various forms, thick sheet (itakonnyaku), strings (shirataki, itokonnyaku), thick strings(tsukikonnyaku) and ball(tamakonnyaku). It has no calories. Always boil it before using to remove the harshness.

Koyadofu: see tofu


Mirin is sweet alcohol made from mochigome and komekoji (yeast). It is generally used for cooking only. It is used as a ceremonial drink (otoso) at New Years. there are two types of mirin: hon and shin. Shin mirin has less than 1% alcohol content. It enhances flavor and makes food shiny. It's sweetness is essential to Japanese cooking.

Mitsuba: Trefoil is a flavorful vegetable with a whitish stem and 3 open leaves on top. Itomitsuba is for soup dishes. Nemitsuba is used boiled and for aemono. These kinds are generally used. Trefoil is distinctive for it's crispy texture and refreshing aroma.

Myoga is a seasoning vegetable with a distinctive taste. Myoga has been used for it's flavor since long ago in Japan. It is ususally cut into thin slices and eaten rawas a topping. Myoga is also used in vinegar dishes and in Japanese pickles. It is added to miso soup too. There are two types of myoga, small summer or larger fall ones.

Miso is steamed soy beans mixed with koji (yeast) and salt. It is left to sleep, and then mashed into a paste form. Only one or two generations ago, most households made their own miso. Flavor, color, texture and yeast vary from region to region in Japan. Different yeast is also used for these different types of misos.

  • Rice miso is the most widely used.
  • Wheat miso is usually red and soft.
  • Bean miso is dark red. Hacho, Sanshu are popular bean misos.
  • Sweet flavored miso is white. It contains more yeast than salt.
  • Kyoto Saikyo miso is a popular brand.
  • Salty miso is red. It has more salt then yeast. Popular regional
  • brands include Sendai, Echigo and Hacho misos.
  • Medium salty miso is also available. Shinshu brand is widely used.

Mochi is steamed mochigome rice that has been pounded to a sticky mass. It is then formed into a variety of shapes for various dishes. It is an essential food during New Years. It is often added to zoni. Mochi can be either heated, grilled or fried. There is also mochi made with beans or with powdered aonori.

  • Noshimochi is the pounded sticky rice that is formed into sheets.
  • Kirimochi is noshimochi cut into small square pieces.
  • Marumochi are Kansai style round ball shaped mochi.
  • Namako Mochi is common in the southern and Kansai regions while noshimochi is popular in the Kanto and Northern regions.
  • Namakomochi is the shape of namako (sea slug), cut into thin slices for use.
  • Kagami Mochi is used at New Years as a decoration. A flat ball of mochi is placed on top of a larger piece to form kagami mochi.

Nasubi (Eggplant) is used in Japanese, Chinese and Western style cooking. This purple egg-shaped vegatable is seasonally enjoyed summer and fall. Fall harvested are considered tastier. It absorbs oil well and combines well with other ingredients.

Nori: There are two types of nori seaweed. Asakusa nori is harvested from bays. This type is higher quality and is used in sushi. Iwanori is gathered on shore. Both are cultivated now in nets and dried in sheets. The flavor of nori is enhenced by holding 2 sheets of nori together while waving them gently over a strong heat. Reverse sides and repeat process. Do not let the flame touch the sheets. There is no need to do this (aburu) for yakinori. Flavor is also added to ajitsuke nori. Nori can be kept for a long time. It absorbs moisture easily and must be store in a sealed container or refridgerator. In order to preserve nori, make sure to put it away immedietly after using. Momi nori is crumbled seaweed used as a topping. It is made by crumbling scorched (aburu) nori in your hands. Very finely crumbled (almost powder) ao nori is a great topping for okonomiyaki. It is sold in this form too. Tsukudani nori is fresh seaweed that is cooked with soy sauce and sugar.


Oba is another name for shiso. Like basil, it has a distinctive taste. The head as well as leaves are edible. It is used in tempura, dishes using vinegar, as topping and in Japanese pickles. Red oba reacts chemically to acid, it dyes ginger red and is used when making umeboshi.

Okonomiyaki sauce is used on okonomiyaki. It is a thick flavorful sweet sauce. Sweet or spicy types are available depending on your taste.

P Panko (Bread crumbs) are usually made from dried bread but for some recipes fresh bread crumbs are needed. The size of the bread crumbs may vary with dishes.

Rakkyo is a kind of green onion. It has unique taste and odor. The tear drop shape white root is edible. It is usually pickled first in salt then with vinegar added. Small rakkyo is called hanarakkyo. With soysauce added in, it is called tamarizuke.

Renkon (Lotus root) have tubular hollows that run the length of each link. The crunchy texture of renkon can be enjoyed in kinpira, nimono and tempura. Avoid discoloration by soaking slices in vinegar.


Sake is the generic name for all alcohol but mainly refers to seishu (rice wine). It is brewed from rice and komekouji (yeast). Quality is classified by alcohol percentage, flavor, fragrance and color. When cooking, boil before using to extinguish odor of alcohol.

Sake flakes: Flaked salmom goes well with rice as it is,and is used mixing with rice or sushimeshi (vinegared rice) for chirashi sushi or omusubi. It is easy to use. Make at home, Sprinke a dash each of salt and sake over salmon and cook in microwave oven, then flake and heat up in frying pan with out oil to dry out.

Sansho (sanshou): Sansho is the name of a low citrus tree. The buds of spring are called Kinome, and its ripened fruits is called mizansho and konazansho is the dried powder of fruits. Its distinctive aroma is essential to Japanese cooking.

Shiitake is also called donko. It is the most commonly used mushroom in Japan. Thick, edges curved under are high quality shiitake. Use fresh or dry, depending on dish. Dried shiitake returns to it's original form by soaking in water. After draining, the water used for soaking can be added to nimono or chawamushi. This brings out a good flavor.

Shimeji: Small mushrooms bunched together at the roots of pine tree. They are harvested in fall from forests. Cultivated all year long, they can be bought any time of the year. Overcooking causes flavor loss. shimeji is used in soups, nabe and takikomi gohan for its pleasant aroma.

Shiojake is salted salmon. A whole salted salmon fish is called aramakijake. Preserving salmon with salt has a long history in Japan. Salmon is usually sold in cut pieces and cooked on a broiler net. Amajio is salmon served in a light salt flavored sauce. Very salty salmon is preferred for omusubi (rice balls) and in zousui.

Shirataki: Konnyaku pressed and formed into strings is shirataki or itokonnyaku, block shape is itakonnyaku. Konnyaku is made from konnyaku potato, a member of the Taro potato family. Konyaku is calorie free. Boil before using to remove taste. See: Konnyaku

Shiso: See: Oba

Soba: Most grains used in Japan belong to the rice species, soba is not. The soba grain is black and pointed. It is peeled and ground into flour. Knead flour, salt, water and either egg, nagaimo, or wheat flour to glue together. What gluey substance added determines what type of soba is made.

Shoga is ginger. It is an essential seasoning of Japanese cooking. It is often used for it's distinctive flavor. Use hineshoga or neshoga when cooking. Shoga pickled in sweet vinegar is called gari. It is eaten with sushi. Meshoga is eaten raw with sweet miso. It also can be pickled in sweet vinegar. Eat with broiled fish.

Shungiku: Also called kikuna. A kind of chrysanthemum with distictive smell and aroma. Use for aemono and nabemono.

Su (vinegar): Rice and artificially produced are vinegar most often used. In the past, rice vinegar was most commonly used in Japan. Recently, using distilled vinegar has become popular. Flavored vinegar for sushi rice is also sold in powder form. Wine vinegar is used in Western style cooking, particularly in salad dresssings.


Tarako is cod roe or suketotara eggs. Raw tarako is used in nimono. Salted tarako is usually referred to as just tarako. Make sure tarako is fresh when eaten raw. Cooks on a broiler net or easily in a microwave oven. Mentaiko is tarako pickled with hot pepper.

Tofu is soy bean milk that is formed with nigari - a solidifier. The firmer type of tofu is called momen (coton). Kinu (silk) type has a softer texture. Yakidofu is the name for tofu that has been lightly browned on both sides.

  • Aburage is the thinly cut, deep-fryed tofu.
  • Atsuage is cut thickly and fried in oil.
  • Ganmodoki is tofu mixed with yam, egg white and other ingredients then fried. In Kansai it is called hirousu or hiryozu.
  • Kooridofu is freeze dried tofu. It is also called koyadofu or shimidofu.
  • Okara or Unohana is the soybean pulp that is the by-product of making soy milk. Add taste with seafood broth. Fry with oil until water evaporated.
  • Yuba is made from the film that forms on heated soybean milk. Yuba is available fresh or dried.

Tonkatsu sauce, Worcestershire sauce and chuno sauce are three most popular sauces sold in Japanese. Worcestershire sauce is made from vegtables and spices. Tonkatsu sauce is made from vegatables, spices, and fruit. It is named tonkatsu sauce because it goes so well with the pork cutlet, tonkatsu. It's sweet and strong flavor goes well with any fried food.

Tororo konbu is dried tangle flakes, finely shaved. There are many types of tororo konbu sold. Soup can be make by adding a little soy sauce and boiling water to a pinch of tororo konbu. Use for sunomono and omusubi. Tororo konbu can be kept for a long period of time.

Tougarashi: A red hot chilli pepper. Dried and powdered is called Ichimi-tougarashi. A mix with sanshou, chinpi, hemp , poppy , shiso and sesame seeds is called shichimi-tougarashi.

Tsukudani is seafood, meat or seaweed that has been cooked in soy sauce and mirin. Soy sauce preserves the ingredients naturally. It's name originates from Tsukujima island where it was first made in the Edo era. Many kinds of tsukudani are sold.


Udon: Mix flour, salt and water. Knead, roll out and cut into long strips. There are 4 types of udon sold; raw, para-boiled, boiled and dry. In order of the size noodles there are himokawa, kishimen, udon, hiyamugi and somen.

Umeboshi are made from unripened plums pickled in salt with red shiso leaves. Umeboshi have a distinctive flavor and red color. In former times, each household made their own. Umeboshi is usually bought now, due to the time and trouble it takes to make. Add umeboshi to preserve omusubi.


Wagarashi is made from mustard seeds. its distinctive yellow color and spicy taste are used for seasoning. Avoid exposing to air or it will lose flavor. More than powdered, tube type paste has become popular. Goes well with tonkatsu and oden.

Wakegi: A green onion that has a longer geen stem than the other green onions, the thinner is called asatsuki. Wakige is used in sunomono vinegar dishes. Asatsuki is used for toppings.

Warabi: A kind of fern,found everywhere in fields and mountains of Japan. Use young unopened leaves in spring time. It has strong harshness, it needs to be akunuki enough before cooking.

Wasabi: A very popular seasoning that goes well with seafood. It is always eaten with sushi and sashimi. Vividly green, wasabi has a strong scent and spicy taste. The proper way to grate wasabi is on sharkskin. If unavailable, use a finely tooth grater in order enhance flavor. Wasabi grows very slowly in clean streams thus it is expensive raw. Wasabi is sold in powder or in tubes of paste.


Yakidofu is firm tofu lightly browned on both sides by broiling. It is much more savory than soft tofu. It's firmness makes it an ideal ingredient in nabe dishes. In the Kanto region, yakidofu is cooked sweet in soy sauce, called nishime. Nishime is a popular dish eaten at New Years in japan.

Yakitori Sauce: It is a stew of various vegetables, seasonings and spices as Japanese style barbeque has a strong flavor. Sweet flavored for yakitori (chicken), there are variety for yakiniku (broiled or barbequed beef) and Hamburger. Experiement by mixing bottled sauces together or add some seasonnig and spices to find your favorite flavor. Sauces can be used in various ways. Use your imagination.

Yakianago: see anago

Yamaimo: Starchy, sticky yam/root. Ginengyo is wild yamaimo. nagaimo and yamaimo are culivatated. Grinded yamaimo with dashijiu is tororo. Put tororo on wheat rice, raw tuna or soba noodles. To prevent itching on hands and lips, soak yamaimo in vinegar and water before grinding. Add water to dried yamaimo in use as sticky starch.

Yomogi: A kind of wild mugwort grown all over Japan. Its buds are edible in spring to early summer. Akunuki is necessary because of its strong harshness. Use for tempura , cooked with rice or mochi (Kusamochi). Yomogi is also a medicine, dried and used for moxa cautery.

Yuzu: Citron peel, not the flesh, is used to garnish soups. It has a distinctive scent. Peel yuzu very thinly. Add ground yuzu peel and juice to miso to create yuzu miso. Kabosu, sudachi is simular to yuzu but green in color. In winter, many Japanese add a few yuzu to bath water for it's citric aroma boost.

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