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Koji

Koji

Koji is a culture which is made up of multiple complex organisms, including mold, bacteria among others. In humid Japan, koji occurs naturally. It generates an enzyme, which causes fermentation that brews the sake, soy sauce, shochu (Japanese distilled liquor), vinegar, and creates miso and pickles. In order to make koji, rice, barley, soy beans […]

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Lotus Roots

Lotus Roots

Lotus roots season is from fall to spring. It’s a common vegetable in Asian countries. When the root is cut, you will see many holes, usually eight or nine. It changes color quickly when it’s cut and the internal flesh is exposed to the air. In order to prevent the oxidization, sliced or cut lotus […]

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Sesame Oil

Sesame Oil

Japanese sesame oil comes in dark or clear. Common cooking oil is the dark one (the picture above). It is made from roasted sesame seeds and has distinctive toasty aroma and flavor. When a Japanese recipe calls for sesame oil, usually referring to this dark one. Clear one is called taihaku-yu. Because it’s made from […]

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Kabocha Squash

Kabocha Squash

Kabocha squash is a winter squash which is widely eaten in Japan. A very good quality kabocha has a texture of potato that gives rich and sweet flavor when cooked. Unlike other winter squashes, kabocha squash has much lower water content, and hard green outer skin is edible. Many stewed Kabocha recipe intentionally leave the […]

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Negi

Negi

A negi is a type of  long onion, which is somewhat in between scallion and leek. It’s used for stewing, grilling and garnish. It is a common long onion in Japan, but some people refer to it as Kanto negi, because it’s widely eaten in Tokyo area. For some reason, it is one of the […]

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Somen

Somen

There are several noodle categories in Japan. Udon, soba and ramen noodles are well known. But there are others called somen and hiyamugi. Somen and hiyamugi are both dried, straight, and thin noodles, which are made from flour, water and salt. Many people including myself don’t really know the difference of somen and hiyamugi. I […]

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Niboshi

Niboshi

Niboshi are dried baby sardines, from which dashi broth can be extracted. In the area I grew up, miso soup was often made from the broth made from niboshi. In the United States, kombu and katsuobushi are popular for dashi broth. Some people remove head and guts before using niboshi for dashi, because they produce […]

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Nameko

Nameko

I usually write about food when I found, ate, or cooked. But I actually have never seen nameko in the United States. They are popular common mushrooms in Japan, as well as shiitake, shimeji, and enoki mushrooms. According to wiki and other sources, they are called butterscotch mushrooms in the U.S. They are usually sold […]

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Shimeji Mushrooms

Shimeji Mushrooms

Japan is a humid country and mushrooms grow well. Shiitake, shimeji, matsutake, enoki, nameko are the most popular and commercialized mushrooms in Japan. Shiitake, shimeji, and enoki can be found in the United States at Asian grocery stores. Shimeji can grow big like shiitake, but commercially available ones are always small and sold in a […]

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Panko (Japanese Bread Crumbs)

Panko (Japanese Bread Crumbs)

Until about 10 years ago only Japanese knew about panko, but now not only celebrity chefs, but also people who are vaguely interested in cooking know about it. As the image above shows, regular bread crumbs are darker, finer, and many are seasoned. On the other hand, panko is lighter in color, coarser, and unseasoned. […]

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Tonkatsu Sosu

Tonkatsu Sosu

Tonkatsu sosu is a Japanese version of Worcestershire sauce, and both ingredients are similar. But tonkatsu sosu is much thicker, milder, and sweeter than Worcestershire sauce. Also unlike Worcestershire sauce, tonkatsu sosu is always used as condiment at the table. As the name shows, it’s always used on tonkatsu (pork katsu) or chicken katsu. But […]

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Popular Secret Ingredients to Make Curry Rice Even Better

Popular Secret Ingredients to Make Curry Rice Even Better

Many Japanese have one or two secret ingredients to add while making curry rice. You can of course make great tasting curry without adding anything. But time to time you may feel something is missing, when you eat curry you made. Or maybe you bought curry mix you usually don’t buy, because it was on […]

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