BAMBOO SHOOTS (TAKENOKO):
Bamboo shoots are edible shoots and canned bamboo shoots are available in supermarkets; it can be used directly in the recipes. There are fresh, dried and canned shoots are available.
BONITO, dried (KALSUO- BUSHI):
This member of the mackerel family is dried wood hard, then shaved into flaked and used as one of the two basic ingredients of dashi.
BEAN CURD (TOFU):
You will find that tofu features in many Japanese recipes. It is made from soya beans and resembles a thick, white blancmange. It can be kept for two to three days if stored in water in refrigerator
BEAN CURD PASTE (MISO):
A fermented bean curd paste which is an integral part of Japanese cuisine. It is used to marinate and dress fish and vegetables and is added to dashi (the basic Japanese stock) to form more substantial soups and dips. It comes in a variety of forms from light cream colour through to a reddish/brown. It can be kept in refrigerator. Miso has a long life.
CHINESE CABBAGE (HAKUSAI):
This vegetable has been available in Australia for many years and has gained popularity through Chinese cookery. It has a more delicate flavor than European cabbage and is used by the Japanese mainly in their soups and one pot dishes.
The cucumbers grown in Japan are much smaller than the western variety. Consequently they are less watery and more tender. If you are unable to obtain Japanese cucumbers, then buy fresh, young cucumbers.
This member of the radish family resembles a large white carrot and is quite a common vegetable in Japan. It is used in many dishes as well as a garnish.
Again the Japanese variety is smaller, sweeter and less watery than European eggplants. If the Japanese variety is unavailable, buy young, fresh common eggplants.
This piquant root is used extensively in Japanese cuisine. Use only the fresh, knobbly root as powdered ginger is no substitute in Japanese recipes. It keeps well in the refrigerator.
GINGKO NUTS (GINNAN):
These are the kernels of the maidenhair tree. They are plump and pale green in colour and are used as flavouring as well as a main ingredient in many recipes. They are available, canned from Japanese supermarkets.
JAPANESE HORSERADISH (WASABI):
A pale green powdered form of the wasabi root is used as an ingredient in dipping sauces and as a garnish. Mixed with water in the same way as we mix English mustard, it has a potent taste.
A blackish/brown variety of seaweed which is used as one of two basic ingredients of dashi and also to flavor sushi rice. Sold in ribbon blocks, it keeps well in an airtight container.
LOTUS ROOT (RENKON, HASU):
This sausage shaped root adds a decorative touch to a dish when sliced as well as a delicious flavor. It is available canned in most Japanese supermarkets.
MUSHROOMS (MOST COMMON IS SHIITAKE):
This is the most common mushroom in Japan. It dries well and has a distinctive flavor. If stored in an airtight container it will keep indefinitely. Enokitake mushrooms are long, thin fungi that grow in clumps on a spongy base. They have a crisp, mild taste and are available at gourmet Japanese supermarkets.
A sweet, cooking rice wine which gives Japanese food its most distinctive flavouring. Mirin is sold in Japanese supermarkets but if unavailable you can substitute a sweet dry sherry in smaller quantities.
Noodles are extremely popular in Japan and four varieties.
Soba – thin buckwheat noodles greeny/ brown in colour.
Somen – a fine white wheat flour noodle very like vermicelli and used in a similar way.
Udon – a spaghetti-like noodle again made of wheat flour.
Harusame – these are very similar to the cellophane noodles used in Chinese cooking.
This is another edible form of seaweed. Sold in dried sheets they are toasted before being used in nori-sushi rolls or crumbled and sprinkled over dishes such as soups or rice.
Traditional rice wine which is not only served with the meal but is often used in cooking as a marinade and as an ingredient of many dipping sauces.
There are two varieties of sesame seeds (white and black), both used extensively in Japanese cooking. Normally toasted, then pounded in a mortar to release their oil, they add a delightfully nutty flavor to a dish.
SOY SAUCE (SHOYU):
Japanese soy sauce is much lighter, less salty sauce than that used in other Oriental countries. These are two types of soy sauce – light and dark. Light soy sauce does not colour the food but is salties than dark soy sauce, which is thick and adds colour to a dish. Use only the Japanese variety.
This is the basis of most Japanese recipes.
JAPANESE VINEGAR (SU):
This is distilled from rice and lacks the pungency and bite of western varieties. There are two types - one sweet, the other unsweetened.
It is a type of seaweed very popular for its taste and texture. It is sold in dried form in Japanese supermarkets.