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Japanese Food Terms

A Guide to Japanese Food and Cuisine

Exquisite sushi at Shunji Japanese Cuisine in West Los Angeles: Ice fish, salmon eggs, tuna



Don't know your tamari from your toro? Have no fear. Whether you're dining at a five-star hotel restaurant or a traditional ryokan, our guide to Japanese food terms will arm you with the necessary culinary lingo to negotiate any menu.

Amaebi: sweet shrimp

Anago: sea eel

Awabi: abalone

Azuki: dried bean; azuki flour is often used for confections

Bento: meal served in a box with different compartments

Daikon (Mooli): long, white radish, usually grated or cut into strips

Dashi: soup or cooking stock made from seaweed and/or fish flakes; commonly used in miso soup

Donburi: bowl of boiled rice with different toppings like chicken, egg or beef

Ebi: shrimp

Edamame: fresh soy beans boiled in their pods and sprinkled with salt

Enoki (Enokitake): delicate mushrooms with long stems and small caps

Gohan: rice

Hamachi: yellowtail, often used for sushi or grilled

Hashi: chopsticks

Hibachi: small, open charcoal grill

Hirame: flounder

Ikura: salmon roe

Kaiseki: multicourse menu of luxury dishes reflecting the seasons with the use of seasonal foods and artistic dinnerware and presentation

Kani: crab

Kappa: cucumber

Kobe beef: cattle raised in exclusive conditions (frequent massages and a diet featuring large quantities of beer), which results in an extraordinarily tender, very expensive beef

Konbu: dried kelp; used in soup stock, for sushi and as a condiment

Maguro: tuna

Maki: rolled

Mako: shark

Mirugai: giant clam

Miso (soup): soybean paste from which a savory broth is made, usually served with cubes of tofu or strips of seaweed

Ono: wahoo fish; a relative of the mackerel often compared in taste to albacore

Ramen: Chinese soup noodles

Saba: mackerel

Sake: salmon

Saké: traditional rice wine served hot or cold

Sashimi: thinly sliced raw fish on rice, usually served with soy sauce and wasabi

Shabu shabu: similar to sukiyaki; beef and vegetables cooked tableside in a broth

Shiitake: prized cultivated mushroom, dark brown with a large cap

Shoya: soy sauce

Shiso: herb and spice, also known as Perilla; its whole green leaf is often used as a receptacle for wasabi

Soba: buckwheat noodles

Sukiyaki: braised beef and vegetable dish with broth added after cooking

Sunomono: vinegared dishes

Sushi: rounds of vinegared rice wrapped in dried seaweed with a center of raw fish or vegetables, served with wasabi and soy

Tai: snapper

Tako: octopus

Takoyaki: a round dumpling filled with octopus

Tamago: egg

Tamari: dark sauce similar in composition and taste to soy; often used for dipping

Tempura: deep-fried, batter-dipped fish or vegetables

Teriyaki: a marinade of soy and sweet saké used on meats, fish and poultry

Tofu: bean curd, processed into a liquid and then molded into large cubes

Toro: fatty belly cut of tuna

Udon: wheat noodles

Unagi: freshwater eel

Uni: sea urchin roe

Wasabi: a hot, spicy condiment made from the roots of Japanese horseradish, chartreuse in color

Yakitori: a dish of pieces of chicken and vegetables, marinated in a spicy sauce, skewered and grilled



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