Abura-age – Fried tofu. Soaks up so much flavour. Buy it ready-made.
Ao-nori – Green seaweed for garnishing things.
Anko – Sweetened red bean paste made from azuki beans. Tsubu-an is lumpy red bean paste and koshi-an is smooth.
Bull-dog sauce – Best tonkatsu sauce brand.
Daikon – Big white radish.
Dashi – Japanese stock, usually made from kombu (kelp) and/or katsuobushi (bonito flakes). You can use instant dashi powder/ granules and just add boiling water according to instructions or make your own.
Edamame – Green soybeans, you know the ones.
Furikake – Japanese savoury sprinkles. For rice.
Goma – Sesame seeds. Black, white and golden – always toast before using. Goma should be kept on an altar and be prayed to three times a day if possible.
Goma-ae – Sesame mix, for vegetables.
Hangiri/ handai – Wooden sushi rice bowl.
Horenso – Spinach.
Jaga-imo – Potato.
Japanese rice – Short-grain, soft and sticky when cooked. It’s the base of many many Japanese meals. Gotta love a bit of sticky rice.
Kabocha – Pumpkin. (Ōkabocha – massive pumpkin.)
Kamaboko – Colourful fish sausage. In Japanese cuisine, we can juxtapose anything.
Kanten – Agar jelly. Kanten powder is the same as agar flakes and are used to make delicious desserts.
Kikurage – Cloud ear mushrooms.
Kiriboshi-daikon – Dried daikon (radish), soak before using.
Kombu – Edible kelp (type of seaweed). Can be used to make stock. The pickled preserve is also great for eating with rice.
Konnyaku – Made from konnyaku potato, it has virtually no calories. It has a bouncy personality and soaks up flavours from sauce.
Makisu – Bamboo rolling mat.
Matcha –Fine ground, powdered, high quality green tea. Prepared using bamboo whisk and tea bowl. Important part of Japanese tea ceremony. Also used in sweets and puddings.
Mentsuyu – Soy sauce, mirin, sugar and dashi. Good base for many Japanese sauces. Make a strong version and then you can just add water or dashi to dilute.
Mirin – Sweet liquor made from rice and distilled alcohol, should be cooked to burn off alcohol.
Miso paste – Soybean paste. Comes in many varieties. The main ones are sweet white miso, nonsweet white miso and red miso. Good for soups, sauces and marinades.
Nabe – Cooking pot.
Nattō – Fermented soybeans. Magical.
Niku – Meat.
Nimono – Boiled/ simmered food.
Nori – Dried seaweed. Make sure to keep it tightly sealed away so it doesn’t go soggy.
Okaka – bonito flakes, flakes of a fish.
Ponzu – Citrussy soy sauce, made with soy sauce and kombu, mirin or rice vinegar and yuzu or juice of any citrus fruit.
Ramen – Chinese wheat noodles.
Renkon – Lotus root.
Rice vinegar – Mild and sweet vinegar, cannot be substituted for other vinegars.
Saka-mushi – Steamed in sake.
Sake – Alcohol, made from rice, fermenting agent (rice koji) and water. Tenderises meat or fish, brings out subtle flavours, and gives its own flavour. Can also be drunk on its own.
Shamoji – Rice paddle.
Shiitake mushrooms – Great mushroom
Shichimi – Seven spice seasoning, good with soupy things and yakitori.
Shiso – Also known as beefsteak plant. Related to mint and looks a bit like a stinging nettle, has a very interesting flavour.
Soba – Buckwheat noodles.
Sōmen – Thin, white wheat flour noodles.
Soy sauce – Can be dark (dark brown, sweet and full of flavour), light (saltier, less intense, does not alter colour of food so much), tamari (most intense, dark, viscous, good for sashimi) and low-salt. Dark soy sauce is the most commonly used and is fine for most recipes.
Sushi seasoning – Seasoned rice vinegar. Good for making sushi rice or dressing.
Tamago-sama – Lord Egg.
Tofu (fresh) – Cotton type (firm) or silk type (soft).
Udon – Fat, white wheat flour noodles.
Umeboshi – Pickled sour plum.
Wakame – Another kind of seaweed. Good for your hair, and in miso soup.
Wasabi – Horseradish. Green spicy condiment.
Yudofu – Boiled tofu.
Yuzu – Japanese citrus fruit. Halfway between lemon and grapefruit. Can be replaced with juice of any citrus fruit.
Zaru – Bamboo colander.