(This is work-in-progress)
aburaage (油揚げ) reference/photos
Deep-fried thinly sliced tofu.
Generic term for the food that is dressed or seasoned. Based on the main seasoning or dressing ingredient, the aemono dishes are named with the word representing the main seasoning/dressing ingredient. Representative aemono are:
- Karashi-ae(辛子和え) – Japanese mustard based
- Goma-ae(胡麻和え) – sesame based
- Miso-ae(味噌和え) – miso based
- Sumiso-ae(酢味噌和え) – vinegar and miso based, also called nuta (ぬたor饅)
- Ume-ae(梅和え) – pickled sour plum based
- Shira-ae(白和え) – tofu based
- Unohana-ae(卯の花和え) – soy pulp (soybean curd refuse) based
aka miso (赤味噌) reference/photos
Miso that is very dark red, almost like chocolate coloured miso. It is made by steaming soy beans before ageing them for 3-12 months, sometimes 2 years. Steaming the beans causes a Maillard reaction during the ageing process that changes the colour of the miso to dark red. The salt percentage of aka miso varies from 5.5% to 11% depending on the type of kōji fungus used for fermentation.
azuki (小豆) reference/photos
Japanese red beans, sold as dried beans in a bag. They are used to make osekihan as the colour of the beans stains the rice to faint red. Azuki is also used to make the sweet bean paste that is often used in Japanese sweets and desserts.
awase miso (合わせ味噌) reference/photos
Standard brown miso that is most readily available at supermarket and grocery stores. The salt percentage is about 12%.
Please see katsuobushi.
dashi (出汁) reference/photos
Generic name for Japanese stock, which is made from bonito flakes, konbu, dried fish, and/or shiitake mushrooms. Click the reference link for specific types of dashi for more details: awase-dashi, ichiban-dashi, katsuo-dashi, konbu-dashi, niban-dashi, niboshi-dashi, shiitake-dashi.
Dried Japanese seasoning that is sprinkled on top of cooked rice. Ingredients include a combination of dried fish flakes, dried egg, dried cod eggs, bonito flakes, sesame seeds, chopped seaweed and other flavourings.
gohan (ご飯) reference/photos
Cooked rice. It can also mean a meal. Click the reference link to see how to cook rice the Japanese way.
iritamago (炒り卵) reference/photos
Japanese-style scrambled egg. Click the reference to see the iritamago used in Sanshoku Bento.
A cutting method: to cut into cubes/square.
kamaboko (かまぼこ or 蒲鉾)
kamaboko is a steamed fish cake made from white flesh fish. The most commonly used kamaboko comes in a semi-cylinder shape on a wooden plank. The natural colour of kamaboko is white but some have a layer of pink skin that is often used to add colour to the dish.
Other kinds of kamaboko include ‘sasa kamaboko’ (笹かまぼこ), which is formed in the shape of a bamboo leaf and grilled and ‘kanikama’ (蟹カマ) in the shape of a crab leg that I introduced in my post Crab Omlette on Rice (Tenshinhan).
kamaboko is sold in the frozen section of Japanese/Asian grocery stores.
karashi (辛子) reference/photos
Japanese mustard. The colour and the texture are similar to English mustard. It does not have acidity in it and is very hot.
You can buy karashi at Japanese/Asian grocery stores. It comes either in a tube as a paste or in a tin as powder. To make karashi paste from powder, you mix the powder with warm water in a little bowl to form a paste, then cover it with cling wrap for a while to develop spiciness.
katsuobushi (鰹節) reference/photos
Dried bonito flakes. They are used in dashi, sprinkled over Chilled Tofu (Hiyayakko), and on blanched vegetables as a topping, e.g. Japanese Okra with Bonito Flakes. It is also used as a filling for onigiri.
Bonito flakes are made by shaving a block of bonito filet, which is made by fermenting and drying after boiling and smoking.
konnyaku (こんにゃく) reference/photos
It is made from konnyaku potato flour and its texture is like firm jelly. It is usually grey but sometimes mixed with seaweed, green seaweed or red pepper which makes it dark grey, light green, or light red respectively. Click the reference site, Tonjiru for more details.
koshihikari (コシヒカリ，こしひかり) reference/photos
Japanese famous brand of high quality rice, which is noted for its sweet taste.
In Australia, you can buy Sun Rice brand Koshihikari rice from Woolworths and Coles. It is Australian grown and labelled as ‘sushi rice’, but you can use it as normal Japanese rice.
Koshihikari rice imported from Japan can be purchased from Japanese/Asian grocery stores.
maze gohan (混ぜご飯) reference/photos
Cooked rice mixed with ingredients.
Sticky rice or sweet rice. Also called glutinous rice. It becomes sticky when cooked
Mochigome does not require as much water to cook as normal short grain rice. The amount of water required to cook mochigome is only 80% of the volume of the mochigome.
Mochigome is used to make osekihan and sometimes mixed with normal rice to cook mixed rice dishes such as Shimeji Gohan. It is also used to make omochi (rice cakes).
ochawan (お茶碗) reference/photos
Japanese rice bowl.
ohashi (お箸) reference/photos
ohitashi (お浸し) reference/photos
Originally, vegetables and even seafood immersed in a flavoured sauce of some sort was called ohitashi. But nowadays, it refers to boiled green leaves with some toppings, consumed with soy sauce or soy based mild sauce.
okazu cup (おかずカップ) reference/photos
Okazu cups are like small cupcake cases and they are usually made of coated paper or aluminium. Reusable silicone cups are also available but they tend to be thick and solid compared to the paper/aluminium cups. Some cups come in pretty colours and patterns.
Rice. Generic word for uncooked rice.
omochi (お餅) reference/photos
Rice cake made from sticky rice (mochigome). The sticky rice is steamed, pounded into sticky dough, then shaped into a ball, a flat dome shape or a large flat rectangular shape that can be cut into smaller square pieces when semi-dried.
otoshi buta/otoshibuta (落し蓋)
Drop lid. It is a round lid that is slightly smaller than the opening of a pot. Otoshibuta is traditionally made of wood, but you can also buy a stainless-steel lid with holes on it (see the sample photos below).
Otoshibuta is placed on top of the ingredients in a pot to ensure the heat is evenly distributed, and ingredients cook faster. It makes the ingredients stay in place without breaking apart. It also stops the liquid from evaporating quickly.
You can make a drop lid with aluminium foil or baking paper (see the sample photo of the otoshi buta made of foil below).
Aluminium foil: Cut a square foil and fold the edges to make it a round shape with the diameter slightly smaller than the pot. Then poke the foil with a knife or a chopstick to make holes in several places.
Baking paper: See the video in my post Shumai for how to make a round paper with holes.
The roll-cutting method used to cut vegetables is called rangiri (乱切り) in Japanese, which translates to random cut. It is often used to cut root vegetables for simmering because the vegetables pieces have more surface and cook faster.
Here is how you do rangiri using a carrot:
Place a whole carrot on the cutting board and cut straight down with a diagonal angle. Then roll the carrot 90 degrees, facing the freshly cut surface up. Place the blade on the cut surface at the same diagonal angle, then cut down. Repeat all way along the length of the carrot.
rāyu (ラー油 or 辣油)
Japanese chilli oil, rāyu is made of oil and/or sesame oil infused with chilli pepper and other spices. It is used to add a touch of spiciness to a broth or a dipping sauce. Rāyu is often added to ramen broth as well as the dipping sauce for Gyōza.
You can buy a small bottle of rāyu at Japanese/Asian grocery stores.
ryōri-shu (料理酒) reference/photo
Cooking sake. You need to be aware that most cooking sake contains salt. You can buy cooking sake without salt at Japanese grocery stores.
saikyo miso (西京味噌)
White miso made in Kansai (the western region of Japan), particularly in Kyoto. It is sweet and cream coloured. It is also called shiro miso (白味噌, white miso). It contains 5% salt, which makes it the sweetest miso among all the miso varieties.
A dish, typically fish or shellfish, steamed in sake.
Japanese rice wine. One of the common seasonings used in Japanese cooking. You could use drinking sake but for cooking, cooking sake (ryōri-shu) is much cheaper.
shichimi tōgarashi (七味唐辛子)
Japanese spice mixture with chilli or simply called shichimi (七味). Shichimi means seven flavours while tōgarashi (唐辛子) means chilli pepper. It is also known as nanairo tōgarashi (七色唐辛子) meaning seven colour chilli pepper.
It contains seven or more different dry spices with chilli as the main ingredient. Other ingredients include sansho (Japanese pepper), orange peel, sesame, ginger, seaweed, hemp seed, and perilla.
You can buy a small bottle of shichimi tōgarashi at Japanese/Asian grocery stores.
shiro dashi (白出汁) reference/photo
A seasoned dashi stock made of sake, mirin, light soy sauce, salt, katsuobushi and konbu. It is usually made as a condensed dashi stock and used by diluting it with water or hot water. It is a handy dashi stock to have in the pantry. You can buy a bottle of shiro dashi at Japanese grocery stores or make it at home. Click the reference/photo link and see the second recipe for Shiro Dashi Recipe.
shiro miso (白味噌)
Light cream-coloured miso that is then sweetest among the varieties of miso paste. Saikyo miso is one of the most famous of the shiro miso. The salt percentage of shiro miso is 5-7%.
shiso (紫蘇 or しそ) reference/photos
Japanese perilla, a herb with a quite distinctive fragrance. It has broad leaves of about 8cm x 6cm (3⅛” x 2⅜”). There are red shiso leaves as well as green shiso leaves. The latter is more commonly used, particularly as a garnish for cold tofu and decoration for sashimi – see Marinated Sashimi Tuna.
You can buy shiso leaves at Japanese grocery stores. You might find perilla leaves in Asian grocery stores or Asian vegetable shops, but they are most likely the Korean perilla leaves. Korean perilla leaves are quite large and the flavour is very different from the Japanese perilla.
shojin ryori (精進料理)
Buddhist monk’s vegetarian cooking.
shungiku (春菊) reference/photos
Edible chrysanthemum leaves. Also called garland chrysanthemum, chrysanthemum greens, etc. They have a hint of bitterness that adds a unique flavour to the dish.
They are not the leaves from chrysanthemum flowers.
sunomono (酢の物) reference/photos
Vegetables with/without protein dressed in vinegar and other seasonings.
sushisu (寿司酢) reference/photos
Sushi vinegar specifically prepared for making sushi rice. It consists of rice wine vinegar, sugar and salt. You can buy sushisu from Japanese/Asian grocery stores. If you have rice wine vinegar, you can make it at home. Please visit the post in the reference link for the recipe to make sushisu.
takuan (沢庵) reference/photos
Pickled daikon. Whole daikon is semi-dried, then picked in salt, sugar and rice bran etc. Some of them are coloured to bright yellow, which tend to have a sweeter flavour than those not coloured.
You can buy takuan at Japanese grocery stores or some Asian grocery stores.
tarako (たらこ) reference/photos
Salted cod (pollock) roe.
teppō gushi (鉄砲串) reference/photos
Gun-shaped skewer made of bamboo. A narrow flat skewer with a handle at one end. The flat skewer prevents the ingredients from rotating around the skewer when turning food on the skewer over. You can buy teppō gushi at Japanese grocery stores. Some online shops also sell them.
Chilli bean paste is called doubanjiang or toban-djan (豆板醤) or doubanjiang. It is a Chinese salty bean paste made from fermented beans. There is a spicy version and non-spicy version, but I used a spicy toban-djan.
You can buy a jar of toban-djan at Asian grocery stores.
tororo konbu (とろろ昆布)
Thin and long konbu flakes made by shaving the konbu that is softened in vinegar. It is fluffy and soft, like cotton wool. Tororo konbu can be eaten as they are but they are often put in noodles and soup dishes such as miso soup.
You can buy tororo konbu in a pack at Japanese grocery stores. Here is a sample of tororo konbu.
umeboshi (梅干し) reference/photos
Salty and sour pickled plu, often used as a filling for onigiri.
There are brown umeboshi (natural colour) and red umeboshi (dyed using purple perilla). The size of umeboshi varies too. Large umeboshi are about 2-3 cm diameter and have a very soft texture while tiny umeboshi are normally crunchy.
The seed inside an umeboshi is very hard and you should not eat it as you might break your teeth.
yakinori (焼き海苔) reference/photos
Roasted seaweed sheet. A full size yakinori sheet is 19cm x 21cm (7½” x 8¼”). A sheet of yakinori is used to warp onigiri and in sushi roll. Finely shredded yakinori is used as a garnish and a topping.
yakitori (焼き鳥) reference/photos
Japanese char-grilled skewered chicken. The flavour can be either sweet soy sauce or salty. Yakitori is one of the most popular izakaya foods. Common menu items includes:
- Negima (ねぎま, chicken and shallots/scallions)
- Momo (もも, chicken thigh)
- Mune (むね, chicken breast)
- Sasami (ささみ, chicken tenderloin)
- Bonjiri (ぼんじり, chicken tail)
- Kawa (皮, chicken skin)
- Tsukune (つくね, chicken mince ball)
- Tebasaki (手羽先, chicken wings)
- Rebā (レバー, liver)
- Hatsu (ハツ, heart)
- Sunagimo (砂肝, gizzard)
- Yagen or nankotsu (ヤゲンor 軟骨, cartilage)