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Glossary ofJapanese Foods

Japanese Dishes
Bento - Traditional boxed meal, served in a lacquer or plastic box with individual compartments for each food
Burdock Root (Gobo)
This fiber-rich vegetable should be soaked in vinegared water immediately after scarping the skin to percent discoloration and remover bitterness. Burdock root has an appealing crunchiness and is a common ingredient in soups and simmered, deep=fried, and stir-fried dishes.
California maki - Cooked crab, avocado, and cucumber maki sushi
Chirashi sushi - Assortment of sliced raw fish and vegetables on a bed of rice
Daikon - Giant white radish that is dried, grated or boiled in stock.
Daizu: Soybean.
Dashi: A clear stock made of freshly shaved katsuobushi (dried, smoked mold-cured bonito) and knobu, a type of kelp. Dashi-no-moto is instant dashi, similar to cubed or powdered bouillon.
Donburi - A type of large bowl; dishes that end in "-don" are served in a this type of bowl and feature a topping on a bed of rice
Gobo: Burdock, eaten as a vegetable in Japan. In China it is used as a medicine. A good source of dietary fiber and nutrients. Often combined with carrot to make kinpira gobo.
Futo maki - Large roll about two inches thick, available with a variety of cooked fillings
Gohan: Rice.
Goma-ae - Cold boiled spinach with a ground sesame seed dressing
Gyoza - Large, sealed, fried and them steamed dumplings filled with either meat or seafood
Kaiseki Yori: A full course meal at a meeting, social gathering or ceremony. Typically each dish is served on individual trays and includes foods that are simmered, steamed, roasted, fried, seasoned with vinegar and pickled. Appetizer, soup, fruit for dessert, and rice are also part of the presentation.
Kamaboko: Fish cake made of a paste of fish, thickened with starch, colored, molded and steamed.
Kanten: Agar agar, a jelly-like substance made from tengusa, a seaweed. It is a vegetable product used as a gelling agent or thickener.
Kappa maki - Cucumber roll made with small slivers of cucumber
Kara-age - Deep fried chicken in ginger sauce
Konbu: Kelp or dried seaweed.
Konnyaku: Devil's tongue or elephant foot. A gelatinous paste made from the root of this plant and formed into bricks or strings, eaten for its chewy texture rather than its bland flavor. Shirataki are thin strings of konnyaku, often used in sukiyaki.
Oshinko maki - Maki sushi made with pickled daikon, a large radish
Oyako-don - Chicken, egg, and scallions on a bed of rice
Mirin: A sweet liquid flavoring made from distilled spirits and glutinous rice on which a mold has developed. used for its
sweetness, not for its alcoholic content though genuine mirin is found in the liquor department. Mirin masks strong fish and meat odors and imparts a sheen to food.
Namasu: Vinegared dish of raw meat or fish and vegetables.
Nishimi: A dish of vegetables, meat and fish simmered with soy, mirin and ginger.
Okazu: Another name for sozai or any dish that accompanies rice, miso soup and pickles.
Panko: Bread crumbs.
Ponzu: Juice of citrus fruits.
Ramen: Chinese-style wheat noodles often called chuka-soba, served in a stock of bones and vegetables flavored with soy.
Sake: Rice wine. This brewed beverage of rice, yeast and water ranges from dry to sweet with a wide variety of flavors. It is served warm or chilled and is important in cooking.
Sashimi - Assorted pieces of sliced, raw fish presented on a plate, sometimes with rice on the side
Shabu Shabu: Nabemono (one-pot dish) of thin slices of beef with vegetables cooked in stock, derived from the Mongolian hotpot of Chinese cookery.
Shoyu: Soy sauce, a basic flavoring, made from soybeans, wheat and salt.
Soba: Buckwheat from which is made a wide variety of noodles.
Somen: Thin wheat noodles.
Sukiyaki: Abemono (one-pot dish) of beef and vegetables, concocted in the Meiji era (1868-1912). Thin slices of beef are cooked in a shallow pan with various vegetables, tofu and shirataki, seasoned with soy and mirin. As the foods are cooked, they are dipped in raw egg and eaten.
Suimono - Clear soup embellished with artfully cut vegetables and bite-size pieces of tofu, fish, chicken or egg, then garnished with fresh herbs
Soba - Thin, long brown noodles made from buckwheat flour, served with a soy-based dipping sauce
Tatsuta-age - Fried chicken wings
Tempura: Seafood and vegetables deep-fried in batter. This technique of cooking was introduced to Japan in the 16th century by the Portuguese.
Teppan: An iron hot plate used for grilling slices of meat and vegetables (teppenyaki) or for making savory pancakes (okonomiyaki).
Togarishi: Red chili pepper.
Teriyaki - A sweet sauce made with soy sauce, sugar, and sweet rice wine applied to grilled foods
Tonkatsu: Sliced port, coated with egg and bread crumbs and deep fried. Traditionally served on a bed of shredded raw cabbage with a thick Worcestershire-style sauce.
Tsukemono: Pickles. There are a variety of pickles made with salt, vinegar, rice bran, rice from sake-making, miso, rice mold and soy with mirin.
Umbeshoshi: Pickled plum.
Wasabi: Japanese green horseradish. The rood is grated and mixed with soy to dip sashimi. Fresh wasabi is sometimes available but it's more readily found in paste or powdered form.
Yaki: Prefix meaning grilled as in yakiniku, grilled meat; yakidofu, grilled tofu; and yakitori, bite-sized pieces of chicken grilled on a skewer. Boiled Bamboo Shoots (Yude Takenoko)
The young shoots of the bamboo tree are a good source of fiber. The preparation of fresh shoots is complicated, so we recommend boiled ones, which are most commonly available canned. Boiling releases an amino acid that leaves a white residue on the surface of the shoots. You may prefer to rinse this off before using.
Yaki-soba- Soba stir-fried with vegetables
Yaki-tori- Grilled chicken on a skewer
Yakko-dofu - Cold bean curd with grated ginger, dried fish flakes, scallions, and soy sauce

Japanese Ingredients
Chrysanthemum Leaves (Shungiku)
These edible leaves are not to be mistaken with those of the chrysanthemum grown for flower display. A rich source of vitamin C, carotene, calcium, and iron, chose lush green bunches that have thin stems. Avoid overcooking these tender leaves. Used in salads, soups, and nabe dishes.

Daikon Radish
Rich in vitamin C, daikon contains active enzymes that aid in digestion. Select those that feel heavy and have lustrous skin and fresh-colored leaves. Raw daikon is often eaten in salads and as pickles, or grated for use as a condiment. Daikon also is used in soups and simmered dishes.

Daikon Radish Sprouts (Kaeware)
There are the young shoots of the daikon radish. Daikon spouts are used to add a touch of green and a bit of spiciness to salads, hand-rolled sushi and sashimi.

Dried or Instant Wakame Seaweed
Among seaweeds, wakame contains a high amount of calcium. It also is rich in vitamins B1, B2, and C, as well as iron and iodine. Dried wakame must first be reconstituted in water. It is used in salads, soups, and simmered dishes. Instant wakame can be used straight form the package in soups and simmered dishes.

Dried Shaved Bonito Flakes (Hana Katsuo)
Bonito that has been boiled and then dried is shaved into fine strands or short, slightly thicker flakes directly on top of salads, and chilled tofu (Hiyayakko) as an aromatic garnish, while the flakes are used to make dashi.

Dried Shiitake Mushrooms
Dried shiitake are generally preferred to fresh because they are more flavorful. They must be reconstituted by soaking in lukewarm water. This soaking liquid will take on a savory flavor and aroma and is often added as broth to soups and simmered dishes.

Dried Soba Noodles
Containing high-grade protein and vitamins B1 and B2, these thin, tan noodles may be eaten hot of chilled. Made from a combination of buckwheat and wheat of flour.

Dried Udon Noodles
These noodles are made simply from wheat flour, salt and water. Available in a variety of thickness, udon noodles are often used in soups.

Enoki Mushrooms
Enoki are rich in vitamins B1 and B2. Avoid over cooking. The base of the stems should be cut off. Used in soups, salads, and simmered and nabe dishes.

Ginger Root (Shoga)
With its pungent flavor and aroma, ginger root is a common sight at any Asian grocer. Select roots taut, unwrinkled skin. As needle-thin slivers, it can be used as a garnish for simmered dishes, salads, and soups.

Gingko Nuts (Ginnan)
These are the seeds of the ginkgo tree. The white shells and thin outer skins are removed before cooking. Canned nuts are shelled, skinned and parboiled. Relatively high in vitamin C and carotene, ginkgo nuts appear in nabe, stir-fried, and deep-fried dishes.

Green Nori Seaweed Flakes (Aonori)
Made from a different variety of nori than the type used for sushi, this product has a blue-green tint and a distinctive fragrance. It is sprinkled on okonomiyaki.

Green Perilla (Aojiso)
A typical herb in Japanese cuisine, perilla has a distinct flavor, and is rich in carotene, vitamin C, and iron. Select leaves that are fragrant and have a fresh green color. Perilla is used chopped as a seasoning in Chilled Tofu, as a garnish with salads and sashimi, and in deep-fried dishes.

Grilled Tofu (Yaki Dofu)
This firm tofu that has been grilled on both sides.

Japanese Hot Mustard (Wagarashi)
This pungent mustard is made from the seeds of the black rape plant. Used in dressings, it also is served with noodle and nabe dishes.

Kelp (Konbu)
Kelp has the delicious deep taste. The white powder on the surface of kelp contains a flavor component, so if shouldn't be wiped off. Kelp is rich in potassium, calcium, iodine and carotene. It also contains amino acids that help lower blood pressure. Chose blackish kelp that is lustrous and well-dried. This seaweed is used to make dashi and also appear in nabe dishes and wrapped around fish, which are then simmered.

Lotus Root (Renkon)
This starchy root of the lotus pant is rich in vitamin C and iron. Select plump, unblemished roots that are pinched off in sections somewhat like sausage links. After cutting, it should be soaked in vinegared water to prevent discoloration. Lotus root is used in marinated salads and simmered and deep-fried dishes.

Miso
The main ingredient in miso is soybeans. It is full of high-grade protein. There are many types of miso, but they are generally divided into two categories, "red" and "white," based on color. Red miso generally is dark brown with a distinct aroma and flavor, whereas white miso tends to be lighter and sweeter.

Pickled Red Ginger (Benishoga)
This popular garnish is made from ginger root that has been pickled in salt and then again in a vinegared mixture.

Potato Starch (Katakuriko)
This starch is made from potatoes. It usually is dissolved in water and added to soups and sauces as a thickener or dusted over meat and fish before deep-frying.

Rice Vinegar (Komezu)
This vinegar is milder and has a gentler flavor than fruit and wine vinegars. Traditionally-brewed rice vinegars are fermented for several months. Rice vinegar, like other vinegars helps foods keep longer, prevents vegetables from discoloring, and removed bitterness. Used in dressings, sushi rice, and pickles.

Roasted Nori Seaweed
These are sheets of dried seaweed that have been roasted under a heat lamp. It is a source of high-grade protein, calcium, carotene, and iron. Select nori that is shiny, dark, and crisp. Nori is used to wrap up rice, as in sushi and rice balls (onigiri).

Sake
Sake, a fermented alcoholic beverage made from rice, also is frequently used as a seasoning, just as wine is. Besides adding its own flavor, sake help other flavors to be absorbed, counteracts strong odors, and tenderizes meat.

Seven Spice Chili Pepper (Shichimi Togarashi)
The exact spices used in this hot seasoning vary slightly by maker but usually include a combination of the following: powdered red chili pepper, black pepper, sesame seeds, dried mandarin orange peek green nori seaweed flakes, prickly ash pods, hemp seeds, and poppy seeds. It is sprinkled over noodle and nabe dishes and yakitori.

Shiitake Mushrooms
Select those with fleshy caps that have the edges slightly tucked under, not spread flat. Fresh shiitake are grilled, and also are used in soups, deep-fried, and nabe dishes.

Shimeji Mushrooms
Shimeji come in clumps that grow from a single stem, which should be short and thick. These are good source of lysine and vitamin B1. Cooking them releases a distinctive flavor and aroma, making them very suitable for soups, simmered and nabe dishes.

Short Grain White Rice
Short grain white rice is characterized by round, semitransparent grains, and is the main type of rice used in Japanese cooking. However, there are other varieties of rice sold that will also produce good results, such as Nishiki, the medium grain rice. Other than being eaten plain, rice is mixed with vegetables, chicken, and beans, and is used in sushi and donburi dishes.

Taro (Satoimo)
This mild-tasting tuber is a good source of protein. Whole taros with the skin intact are preferable to those that come peeled. Used in soups and simmered and steamed dishes.

Thin Deep Fried Tofu (Abura Age)
Always douse with boiling water before using to remove excess oil from the surface. Used as an ingredient in soups, simmered dishes, inarizushi, and Takikomi Gohan. Seasoned, thin deep-fried tofu is available canned and packaged especially for inarizushi.

Tiny Dried Shrimp (Sakura Ebi)
These miniature shrimp have been dried in their shells. They are used in okonomiyaki and deep-fried dishes.

Tofu
Made from soybeans, versatile tofu is rich in protein. It also has no cholesterol and is easily digestible. Tofu varieties include regular, silken, firm and soft. Tofu is stored in water and should be thoroughly drained just before cooking. Changing the water daily will keep it fresh longer. In addition to Hiyayako (Chilled Tofu), tofu appears in soups and nabe, simmered, and deep-fried dishes.

Trefoil (Mitsuba)
This delicate herb is high in carotene and vitamin C. In order to preserve its fragrance, it should never be more than briefly parboiled. Commonly used in salads, Chawanmushi, and clear soups to add aroma, trefoil also is used as a garnish for nabe dishes.

Wasabi
This unique Japanese spice grows naturally alongside clear mountain streams, today it is mainly cultivated in wasabi farms. The wasabi root is peeled, then grated and used as a condiment for sushi, sashimi, and Chilled Soba Noodles.

White Turnip (Kabu)
This vegetable contains protein and calcium. Select turnips that have a smooth surface. They are often pickled and are a common ingredient in soups and simmered dishes.

Yam Cake (Konnyaku)
This product consists of more than 90% water. Made from konnyaku yams, it helps cleanse the digestive system. Yam cake is valued more for its texture than flavor and is used in various dishes. It comes in white and blackish color as well as several different shapes.

Yam Noodles (Shirataki)
These are made from yam cakes that have a tougher, gelatinous consistency and have little nutritional value. If using canned yam noodles, drain well and parboil before cooking.

 

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