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Tuesday, June 18, 2013


Thinking of cooking Japanese foods? Here are some of the common stuff you'll need in your kitchen to cook Japanese foods.

Soy sauces, it comes in a variety of brands and flavors, dark, light, gluten and wheat free tamari. Experiment different brands.

Sake is a must to have, some dishes will be enhanced with this fermented rice, it adds edge to anything like teriyaki sauces, and soups such as Suimono, and miso.

Mirin adds sweetness to dishes, it is like sake with a lower alcohol content and sweeter, I love to add mirin in sauces that I want sweetened along with honey or brown sugar.

Miso paste, used to make sauces, gravies and of course the famous Miso Soup, there are different colors, white (shiro), aka (red).

Rice wine vinegar adds sour to dishes and salad dressings.

Bonito flakes, or tuna shavings are a must to make soup stock, it is a main ingredient in preparing Japanese Dashi stock.

Shitake mushrooms dried, is a very important ingredient to have, dried Shitake can be found in most Asian aisles in your supermarket, dried mushrooms need to be rehydrated in warm water for a few minutes and drained.

Udon noodles are the Japanese spaghetti, dried noodles need to be cooked following the package instructions, if you've cooked pasta before, you'll have no problem cooking udon, some brands soften up very quickly so keep an eye out on it when cooking.

Kamaboko or fish cakes are a prize garnish for salads or soups, and eaten in slices for appetizers served with soy sauce and hot mustard.

Wasabi paste is a condiment that is used constantly in sushi bars, offering some heat to soy sauce and other sauces. Having this unhand will offer your diners some heat for dumplings such as shumai.

Japanese cooking is very healthy, my mom used this earthy flavored root called Gobo in Japanese or Burdock root, cleaned and sliced and softened in stews or one pot meals adds personality.

Mayonnaise is used in modern day Japanese cooking as styles in cooking fuses, mayonnaise offers sauces and dips richness. My favorite brand is Best Foods Real Mayonnaise, or for vegans Vegenaise TM, is a good brand.

So this is just a few of the ingredients you'll need to start off your Japanese cooking and foodie journey. Other ingredients that's standard are garlic, ginger, green onions, Chinese cabbage, onions, squashes. 

Tip: It is always a good thing to read up on current food publications, take cooking classes from reputable sources such as professional Japanese chefs, or your local college, or even some martial arts dojos will have fund raisers with experienced Japanese cooks there, ask questions and always remember cooking should be fun, it should be respected, so enjoy your foodie journey.

Seek and you shall find.