Glossary

As each recipe is uploaded, I will continue to add to this glossary. In the meantime, if you have a word you’d like to know more about, please let me know.

Abura-age 油揚げ
Abura-age is thin sheets of fried tofu that are most popularly known as the stuffed tofu pockets called ‘inari-zushi’. Another popular dish is in kitsune soba or kitsune udon, which is abura-age slices in noodle soup. Kitsune means ‘fox’ and in Japanese mythology this food is associated with Inari the fox deity, who is a messenger of the gods.
Recipes:
Hijiki Inari Pockets

Kitsune udon

Kitsune udon

Benitade 紅蓼
This is a water pepper: a purple or red small-leaved peppery sprout used in salads or often as a garnish with sashimi.

Daikon
There are many varieties of daikon, but the most common is a long tuber with a mild turnip flavour. It is often used finely grated as an accompaniment with tempura. To prepare daikon it is important to peel away not only the skin, but also cutting into the flesh about 1cm deep – this layer is quite bitter, but it can still used in soup stock. Cooking daikon in the water that is used to first rinse the rice before cooking will keep the daikon soft, sweet and white.
Recipe:
Chef Tokuoka’s Daikon Furofuki

Dashi soup stock
Dashi is an essential ingredient in Japanese cuisine. Katsuo dashi is made with konbu (kelp) seaweed and shaved katsuo (bonito) flakes, with dried sardines also used sometimes. Shiitake dashi is the vegetarian version and is made with dried shiitake mushrooms and konbu seaweed. It is much better to make your own dashi, which is really very simple, rather than use the powdered one because it usually contains a lot of MSG. Here is a video in English from Chef Ozeki in his home cooking studio in Gifu on how to make dashi…

Hamo 鱧
Hamo is a daggertooth pike conger eel that is found throughout the seas surrounding Japan and China, with the most prized eels coming from around Akashi. Because it is extremely bony, it is only prepared by skilled chefs and is a Kyoto speciality associated with the summer and the Gion Matsuri. You can read more about hamo in English at Ad Blankestijn’s Japanese Food Dictionary.

Hijiki seaweed 鹿尾菜
Hijiki is a highly nutritious sea vegetable that is usually sold dry, but when soaked in water expands into a fleshy mild-tasting seaweed that can be added to salads and soups. Hijiki is an important ingredient in macrobiotic cooking because of the high dietary fibre and also the large amount of trace elements such as calcium, iron and magnesium. In Australia, the import of hijiki has been banned because it has traces of arsenic. However, in my opinion this has been an over-reaction because hijiki has been used for centuries in Japan, even as medicine, with no adverse effects. In fact, the Japanese government responded to the Australian ban by saying that only very small quantities of hijiki are eaten in a meal and there is no need for alarm. I still buy hijiki when I am in Japan and I have no trouble bringing it into Australia for personal consumption. I also have friends send it to me by post and have no problems with Customs. I highly recommend hijiki as a healthy and delicious food that is great in salads and soups.
Recipes:
Hijiki Inari Pockets

Dried hijiki seaweed

Dried hijiki seaweed

Inari – see Abura-age

Junsai 蓴菜
Junsai is a small Brasenia aquatic plant that is covered in a thick mucilage which gives the plant an interesting texture that is much prized in Japanese cuisine. It is harvested from ponds in the summer.

Junsai

Junsai

Kaiware-daikon 貝割れ大根
Sprouts made from daikon seeds. You can substitute radish sprouts to get the same peppery taste.
Recipes: Preparing sea bream for sashimi

Kanpyo (kampyo) 干瓢
Kanpyo is the dried stripes of the calabash gourd. They are rehydrated in water or cooked in dashi stock and can be used as an ingredient in sushi rolls or work as convenient edible ties.
Recipes:
Hijiki Inari Pockets

Katsuo dashi – see Dashi

Kinome 木の芽
Kinome are the fragrant news leaves of the Japanese prickly ash tree (also called Szechuan pepper tree) that grow fresh and tender for a brief time in spring. They have a mild peppery flavour with a hint of citrus. The seeds of the tree are called sansho, which is known as Japanese pepper.
Recipes:
Wakame and fresh bamboo shoot soup

Mibuna 壬生菜
Mibuna is one of Kyoto’s designated traditional vegetables called kyo-yasai, which feature in Kyoto’s unique culinary genres such as obanzai style cooking. It is a mustard green with a delicate flavour that is a naturally occurring hybrid of mizuna. Mibuna is at its peak in the middle of May. The name means a “herb that comes from Mibu,” which is an area in Kyoto city surrounding Mibu-dera, a 1000-year-old temple that is famous for its Kyogen (comic Japanese drama). Recently there has been a great revival of interest in Mibu because of the popularity of the TV series Shinsengumi about a special police force that was formed there in 1863. Nowadays, mibuna is mainly produced by small family-based farmers in Hiyoshi village, just north of Nantan city in Kyoto prefecture.
Recipes: Mibuna Pickles 壬生菜の塩漬け mibuna no shiodzuke

Momen tofu 木綿豆腐
Also called ‘cotton tofu’ or ‘firm tofu’, this is a dense textured, firm tofu that is useful for mixing with other ingredients because it holds everything together so that you can shape it, such as forming into balls for adding to soups or deep frying. You can also slice it and it will keep its shape without crumbling, so you can marinate it and fry it.
Recipes:
Hijiki Inari Pockets

Momiji-oroshi もみじおろし
Momiji-oroshi literally means “grated autumn leaves” but refers to the rich red colour that results when dried chillies are placed inside a daikon radish and then finely grated, using a special grater that is just for making daikon-oroshi. It is a popular condiment served with white-fleshed fish because the chilli stimulates the palate to enhance the delicate taste of the fish.
Recipes: Preparing sea bream for sashimi

Momiji-oroshi

Momiji-oroshi

Myoga 茗荷
Myoga is the edible flower bud of a variety of ginger that grows in Japan and Korea. It has a lovely crunchy texture with a mild ginger flavour. You could replace it with green ginger but it is quite a unique flavour.
Recipes: Preparing sea bream for sashimi

Myoga

Myoga

Rakkyo ラッキョウ
Rakkyo (Allium Chinense) is a type of Japanese scallion or shallot. Originally from China, it is widely cultivated throughout East and South-East Asia. It has a mild flavour that offsets strong flavours, and is most often found in Japan in a pickled form that is served with curry.
Pickled Rakkyo

Shiso 紫蘇
Shiso, known in English as perilla or beefsteak plant, is a herb that is often used to flavour and garnish Japanese dishes. It comes in two varieties: a purple-leaved variety called akajiso (red shiso) which is the ingredient that makes umeboshi (pickled plums) appear red; and a green-leaved variety called aoshiso (green shiso) which is often used as a topping for noodles or as a garnish with sushi dishes.

Red and green shiso leaves and umeboshi

Red and green shiso leaves and umeboshi

Sudachi 酢橘
Sudachi is a small, green citrus fruit that is valued for its fragrant, tart juice, which is particularly associated with matsutake mushrooms.

Takanotsume chillies 鷹の爪
This is a popular hot chilli used mostly in its dried form in Japanese cuisine and for pickling. It literally means “hawk’s claw” because of its characteristic claw-like shape.
Pickled Rakkyo

Takenoko 竹の子
Takenoko means “bamboo shoots” and they are delicious when they first come up from the ground in the spring. They are traditionally associated with spring and used most often in a simple form that allows the delicate sweet flavour to be highlighted. The preparation of takenoko requires the roots to be boiled in water with rice bran which draws out the bitterness and makes them tender enough to eat. Here is a video in English from Chef Ozeki in his home cooking studio in Gifu on how to prepare takenoko…
Recipes:
Wakame and fresh bamboo shoot soup

Wakame seaweed 若布
Wakame is a mild-flavoured seaweed that goes well with so many dishes in Kyoto cuisine, both hot dishes like soups and also in salads. It is most often rehydrated from the dried form but is especially delicious when obtainable fresh in spring.
Recipes:
Wakame and bamboo shoot soup

Fresh wakame seaweed

Fresh wakame seaweed

Yamato-imo 大和芋
Yamato-imo, ‘mountain potato’, is a type of yam that has a wonderful culinary feature that is much prized in Japanese cuisine – when grated raw it produces a cloudy mucilaginous mound, which is very slimy, rather like the texture of raw eggs. Although ‘slimy’ conjures up something distasteful for people who do not have this texture featured in their cuisine, it is an important texture in Japanese cuisine and is found in that other much-commented on Japanese food: ‘natto’. The taste of yamato-imo is mild and so it is mixed with other ingredients mainly to produce this particular texture. It is a rather unique vegetable and I haven’t found anything to substitute for it; however, I include it in recipes on this blog to show its use and versatility. The skin of the yamato-imo has a skin irritant in it and so it needs to be handled carefully and placed in a vinegar and water solution first before peeling. The flesh of the yam does not have this irritant but should still be placed in a vinegar solution to avoid any of the irritant remaining.
Recipes:
Hijiki Inari Pockets

Grated Yamato-imo

Grated Yamato-imo

Yuzu 柚子
Yuzu is a small, orange citrus fruit that is valued for its fragrant zest and tart juice that is reminiscent of oranges or grapefruits but which is difficult to substitute in Japanese cuisine because of its distinctive aroma. Yuzukosho is a popular condiment made from yuzu zest with chillies and salt.



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