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Glossary of Japanese terms

Glossary of Japanese food and culinary terms

  • Agedashi tofu (or age-dofu)
    Firm tofu cut into cubes and deep-fried in starch. Served hot, typically with tentsuyu.

  • Bento (or "o-bento")
    Combination of side dishes with rice served in a plastic or wooden lunch box. It is the most common kind of food eaten for lunch outside home in Japan.

  • Baikingu
    Smorgasbord or buffet. The word comes from "viking", the name of the first Swedish restaurant in Japan offering smorgasbord.

  • Chanpuru
    Okinawan stir fry dish, generally containing vegetables, tofu, and some kind of meat or fish.

  • Chawanmushi
    Egg custard dish with seeds of ginkgo, shiitake mushrooms, kamaboko, boiled shrimp and other ingredients. It is eaten as an appetizer or as a side dish alongside sushi or other dishes.

  • Chikuwa
    Cylindrical stick of steamed or broiled fish surimi, salt, sugar, starch, and egg white.

  • Cup Ramen
    Instant noodle sold in supermarket or "combini" (see Ramen).

  • Daikon
    Big white raddish used a lot in Japanese cooking.

  • Dango
    Rice dumpling made from mochiko (rice flour) and typically served on a skewer and accompanied with green tea.

  • Dashi
    Broth soups used abundantly in Japanese cooking. The three most common dashi are made from dried kombu, niboshi, or shiitake.

  • Donburi (or don)
    Bowl of rice covered with meat and eggs (as in Oyakodon, Katsudon, Gyuudon, or Soborodon), vegetable (as in Tendon), fish (as in Magurodon) or seafood (as in Kaisendon, or Tendon)

  • Edamame
    Boiled green soybeans, served salted as a side dish or appetizer.

  • Gobo
    Greater burdock (thin grayish-brown root vegetable).

  • Goya
    Bitter melon, bitter gourd : extremely bitter cucumber-like vegetable typical of Okinawa

  • Gyudon
    Slices of beef simmered in soy sauce laid on rice.

  • Kabayaki
    Boned fish or seafood dish dipped in a sweet shoyu-base sauce before being broiled on a grill. The most common kind of kabayaki is made with unagi (eel) or iwashi (sardine).

  • Kakuni
    Braised pork dish of Chinese origin and famous in the region of Nagasaki. It literally means "square simmered".

  • Kamaboko
    A type of cured white fish surimi combined with additives such as MSG. Typically served as sliced half cylindrical loaves.

  • Kamameishi
    Rice cooked in an iron pot, usually with vegetable and meat.

  • Katsudon
    Battered pork cutlet with eggs on rice.

  • Kinpira
    Cooking style : "sautéed and simmered".

  • Kiriboshi daikon
    Dried daikon cut in strips and simmered.

  • Kombu (or konbu)
    Edible kelp (East Asian variety).

  • Konnyaku
    Gelatin-like food made from the starch of "konnyaku potato".

  • Matcha
    Finely-milled green tea (as used in the tea ceremony).

  • Miso
    Soybean paste used a lot in Japanese cooking, such as in "miso soup" or "miso ramen".

  • Mochi (or "o-mochi")
    Rice cake made of glutinous rice pounded into a thick and sticky paste. It is commonly eaten for the New Year.

  • Nabe (or nabemono)
    Hot pot dish. It is usually eaten in winter. Sumo wrestlers notoriously eat a lot of Chankonabe (nabe with meat, vegatable and udon) to gain weight.

  • Nanban-zuke
    fried mackerel marinated in vinegar and other ingredients.

  • Natto
    Fermented soybeans with a pungeant smell, that Japanese an foreigners alike usually love or hate. It is more popular in Eastern and Northern Japan than in the rest of the country.

  • Niboshi
    Dried baby sardines.

  • Nikujaga
    Dish of meat, potatoes and onion stewed in sweetened soy sauce.

  • Nimono
    Stewed (or simmered) dishes.

  • Oden
    Stew-like dish with ingredients such as konnyaku, daikon, chikuwa, hard-boiled eggs, tofu cubes, etc. simmered in flavoured stock.

  • Okazu
    Small side dish of fish, meat, vegetable, or tofu. A main course in Japanese home cooking or restaurants such as izakaya is typically composed of several "okazu" accompanying rice.

  • Ramen
    Chinese/Japanese noodle typically served in soup with vegetable and meat.

  • Shabu-shabu
    Hot pot dish related to the Chinese fondue and the sukiyaki. Thin slices of meat and vegetables are boiled in a common pot, then usually dipped in sauces.

  • Shio-yaki
    Cooking style : "salt-grilled".

  • Shoyu
    Soy sauce. One of the most common ingredient in Japanese cooking.

  • Soba
    Buckwheat noodles. They can be eaten warm, but more commonly cold in summer. They are not eaten with sauce or broth, but simply with tsuyu.

  • Sobordon
    Bowl of rice covered with sliced omelette and minced chicken simmered in dashi, soy sauce, sake and ginger.

  • Sukiyaki
    Hot pot dish with tofu, negi (scallion), sliced meat (usually beef), konnyaku noodles, mushrooms and Chinese cabbage. The food is then dipped in a small bowl of raw, beaten eggs before being eaten.

  • Surimi
    Fish-based food product intended to mimic the texture and color of the meat of lobster, crab and other shellfish.

  • Tantanmen
    Very hot Sichuan-style ramen with a reddish, spicy chilli and sesame soup.

  • Takuwan
    Pickled "daikon" (giant raddish)

  • Tempura
    Deep-fried food, usually seafood or vegetables, dipped into flour-and-water batter. Of Portuguese origin, although it has become a "traditional" Japanese dish since its import in the 16th century.

  • Tendon
    Pieces of tempura laid on rice in a bowl.

  • Tsukune
    Burgers made of minced chicken, sometimes mixed with tofu.

  • Tsuyu
    Dipping sauce, made of dashi, mirin and shoyu.

  • Udon
    Thick wheat-flour noodles served in a hot soup.

  • Umeboshi
    Sour pickled plum served with dishes such as "bento" and thought to help digestion.

  • Umeshu
    Sweet alcohol made of "ume".

  • Viking
    See "baikingu"

  • Wasabi
    Japanese plant with green roots tasting like strong horseradish and used in cooking in the form of green paste. Many people call it "Japanese mustard", although it is not related to the mustard plant.

  • Yakiniku
    Grilled meat, typically thin slices of beef. Also known as Korean BBQ.

  • Yakitori
    Pieces of chicken grilled or barbecued on a skewer.

  • Yuzu
    Sour citrus fruit shaped looking like a yellow-greenish mandarin or a small grapefruit.
Sushi (© Boris Ryzhkov - Fotolia.com)
Sushi Bentō (© Elenathewise  - Fotolia.com)
Bentō Sōmen chanpurū (© runin - iStockphoto.com)
Sōmen chanpurū Chawanmushi (© されむ - Fotolia.com)
Chawanmushi Katsudon (© runin - Fotolia.com)
Katsudon Nattō (© Paylessimages - Fotolia.com)
Nattō Oden (© Tsuboya - Fotolia.com)
Oden Ramen (© Kheng Guan Toh - Fotolia.com)
Ramen Shabu-shabu (© 光一 後藤 - iStockphoto.com)
Shabu-shabu Soba (© jreika - iStockphoto.com)
Soba Tempura (© jedi-master - Fotolia.com)
Tempura Yakiniku (© Paylessimages - Fotolia.com)
Yakiniku Yakitori (© jedi-master - Fotolia.com)
Yakitori

                     

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