Japanese-English Glossary
Fruits and Vegetables

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aojiso (shiso)

The leaves of a subspecies of perilla. This Japanese herb has a refreshing fragrance and is used to garnish or add zest to a wide range of dishes.

aonegi (Japanese green onion)

A variety of green onion that's closest to the Western green onion. Every part of the onion is edible, from the roots to the tips of the leaves. Often used as a condiment. Sometimes called hanegi or leaf onion, it is widely grown in the Kansai region.

aoyuzu (green yuzu)

Yuzu harvested before ripening to yellow.

bainiku (umeboshi puree)

Ume paste. After removing the pit, the pulp is pureed with a knife.

beinasu (beinasu eggplant)

Beinasu or "American eggplant" refers to the large globe eggplant commonly found in the US.

benishoga

Red pickled ginger, which is traditionally made by pickling ginger in the liquid produced when making umeboshi. This gives it a tart and salty flavor, and a bright red color from the red shiso.

buntan (pomelo)

One of the biggest citrus fruits. Comes in many shapes: round, flat and egg-shaped. Usually about 15 cm in diameter, and 1 kg in weight. Some are 2-3 kg.

chingensai (bok choy)

A mild-flavored popular Chinese vegetable about 20-25 cm long, with green lustrous leaves and thick, crisp, light green stalks.

daikon (daikon radish)

A large white radish that is about 35 cm long. A popular ingredient in Japanese cooking, used in salads and simmered dishes. The grated form is also used as a condiment. Shredded and dried daikon is called kiriboshi daikon.

daikon oroshi (grated daikon radish)

Grated daikon radish. Used as a refreshing condiment for seafood, hot pots and fried dishes.

enoki (enoki mushrooms)

Thin mushrooms about 3-10 cm long, with milky white caps.

gobo (gobo burdock root)

Edible burdock root, about 1 m long and 3 cm thick. Rich in fiber and nutrients.

goya (bitter melon)

Gourd with a distinctive bitterness. It is about 10-30 cm long and thin, with a bumpy skin.

hakusai (Chinese cabbage)

A leafy cabbage often eaten in the winter in Japan. The average length is about 40 cm. With a high water content and crisp texture when eaten raw, it can be mildly sweet. When simmered, it becomes softer than cabbage. Also referred to as Napa cabbage.

hosonegi (scallion)

Young green onions harvested before maturity. Another name for these 5-mm thick onions is ko-negi.

kabocha (kabocha pumpkin)

A fruit with sweet starchy orange flesh and green skin. The kabocha pumpkin is a member of the gourd family. Japanese pumpkins are smaller than their Western counterparts and weigh an average of about 1 kg.

kabosu (kabosu citron)

A Japanese lime that's green and round. Weighs approximately 100-150 grams. The yellowish-white pulp is very juicy and sour.

kabu (Japanese turnip)

A root vegetable harvested through autumn and winter. Comes in various colors and sizes. Both the root and the leaves are edible. Although Japanese turnips may have a fibrous skin, they are typically softer than Western turnips.

Kaga renkon (Kaga lotus root)

Grown in the Kanazawa region. The roots are perfectly white, and known for starchy stickiness.

kaiwarena (kaiware sprouts)

Spicy radish sprouts that are often used in salads and as a garnish.

Kamo nasu (Kamo eggplant)

Firm, round eggplant originating in the Kyoto region.

kanpyo (dried kanpyo gourd strips)

Dried shavings of calabash, a type of gourd. Rub with salt, then wash and boil for 3-5 min before use.

kikunohana (edible chrysanthemum flowers)

A crunchy texture and nice fragrance, especially in the autumn. Many are yellow or pink.

kikurage (kikurage wood ear mushroom)

This mushroom contains a lot of fiber. Rehydrate in lukewarm water before use.

kinome

The young leaves of the sansho plant. Kinome has a citrus-like aroma and can leave a tingling sensation on the tongue.

kintoki ninjin (kintoki carrot)

Deep red carrot originating in the Kyoto region.

kiriboshi daikon

Shredded dried daikon radish. Rinsed, then soaked in warm water to rehydrate before use.

komatsuna (komatsuna Japanese mustard greens)

Leaf vegetable originating in the Tokyo region. Contains plenty of carotene and vitamin C. Versatile vegetable used for aemono, stir-fry, hot pot, and in soup.

konnyaku

A firm jelly made from the corm of the konjac plant. High in fiber and contains almost no calories. When extruded into noodles it is called shirataki.

kyuri (cucumber)

Japanese cucumbers are slender, with dark green tender skin and very few seeds. They are usually about 20 cm long, and weigh 80-120 g. Lebanese cucumbers have a similar taste and texture, and make for a suitable alternative.

maitake (maitake mushrooms)

Also known as hen-of-the-woods mushrooms, maitake have fan-shaped caps with a dark beige color. They grow in overlapping layers and have a meaty flavor.

Manganji togarashi (Manganji pepper)

From northern Kyoto, around the Manganji area. This pepper grows to about 15 cm. The flesh is thick, yet soft. Sweet and flavorful, not spicy. June to August is the peak season.

menma

Lactofermented bamboo shoots, which are seasoned and cooked. Menma is used as a topping for noodle soups such as ramen.

mitsuba

An East Asian herb that's often used as a garnish, but can also be blanched and served as a salad. It has long pale green stems and three saw-toothed leaves at the top of each stem.

mizuna

A tender vegetable that can be used as a salad green, or cooked in nabe (hot pots), or stir-fries. Mizuna is originally from the Kyoto region, and has feathery, light-green leaves.

myoga

The young flower buds of a type of ginger with a distinctive fragrance that stimulates the appetite. Often used as a condiment.

myogatake

Young stems of myoga ginger. Harvested when about 50-60 cm long.

nagaimo (nagaimo yam)

Straight, long and thick, nagaimo can grow to over 1 m in length. Contains more water than other types of Japanese yams and is not as mucilaginous.

nameko (nameko mushrooms)

A tan-colored mushroom that secretes mucin, giving it a slick mucilaginous texture.

nanohana

Young stems of a vegetable in the broccoli family that heralds the coming of spring. Best eaten before it flowers.

nasu (eggplant)

Japanese eggplants are relatively small, with few seeds and a deep purple skin. They are usually about 13-15 cm long and weigh about 100 g.

natsumikan (natsumikan orange)

A citrus fruit that is somewhat flat. It grows to about 400-500 g.

negi (Japanese leek)

A vegetable cultivated since ancient times in Japan. One variety features long white stalks, while another variety is mostly green. The Japanese leek (negi) has a distinctive sharp flavor and aroma.

nira (Chinese chives)

Also called garlic chives, the flat leaves are about 20-30 cm long. The smell, more pungent than that of Western chives, is similar to garlic.

Noto kintoki

Sweet potato grown in the Noto peninsula. Known for its sweetness and texture. Very useful for nimono (simmered dishes), tempura, and traditional sweets.

seri

A leafy green with a strong herbal aroma. Seri (water dropwort) is in season from winter to early spring and is often used to make ohitashi (boiled vegetable salad), for which it is blanched and seasoned with dashi.

shiitake (shiitake mushroom)

Edible mushrooms with a diameter of about 5-10 cm. The caps are thick and full of umami thanks to a high concentration of guanosine monophosphate. Sold both fresh and dried.

shimeji (shimeji mushrooms)

Also known as beech mushrooms, shimeji come in white and brown varieties and are typically cultivated. Both the cap and stalk can be eaten. A firm texture and a nutty taste.

shin shoga (young ginger)

Harvested before maturity, young ginger has a smooth skin and pink roots. Compared to mature ginger, it has a higher water content, a milder flavor, and is less fibrous.

shin tamanegi (new onion)

Shipped immediately after harvest, these onions do not undergo the curing process used to extend the shelf-life of regular onions. They are tender, sweet and less pungent than regular onions, which makes them suitable for use in salads.

shirataki

Konnyaku that has been extruded into thin noodles. Shirataki is usually white, but can also be an ash gray. High in fiber and contains almost no calories.

shironegi (white Japanese leek)

Large green onions with a high proportion of white to green leaves. This is achieved by burying the sprouted onion in extra soil. Also known as nebuka long onion. Has a sweet taste when simmered. Widely grown in the Kanto region.

shirouri

A long, cylindrical member of the melon family. Though it has no real fragrance or flavor, it is prized for its crunchy texture. Often used for pickles.

shishitogarashi (shishito pepper)

A small green pepper similar to the Spanish Padrōn pepper. About 5-6 cm in length. Although they are mostly mild, a small percentage of the peppers can be very spicy.

shogoin kabura (shogoin turnip)

Turnip certified as a traditional vegetable of Kyoto. It grows to 15-20 cm in diameter. Known for its fine texture, juiciness and moistness.

shungiku (shungiku chrysanthemum greens)

The leaves and stems of an edible variety of chrysanthemum that are in season during winter. They're typically used for ohitashi (boiled vegetable salad) and in nabe hot pots.

sudachi

A dark green Japanese citrus fruit characterized by its zest and refreshing aroma. It is about 3 cm in diameter and weighs 30-40 g.

takuan

Daikon radish, dried and then pickled using salt and rice bran. The pickles are fermented for several months, giving them a yellow color.

tomyo (pea sprouts)

The young sprouts of pea plants. They can be used in salads or stir-fries.

tsuki konnyaku (thick konnyaku noodles)

Konnyaku cut in long, thin strips. Made with a specific variety of konnyaku. Has almost no calories and a lot of fiber.

umeboshi

Ume pickled in salt with red shiso before being dried in the sun. Very sour. Although ume is most closely related to the apricot, it is often translated as plum.

wakegi (wakegi Welsh onion)

A relative of the Japanese leek, but slimmer, softer and sweeter.

yamaimo

A general term for yams such as nagaimo, tsukuneimo and ichoimo; that are native to the Japanese mountains.

yamatoimo

Japanese yam. Somewhat flat and often shaped like the palm of the hand. The texture is smooth and very sticky. A rich flavor.

yuzu

Yuzu is a Japanese citrus fruit with a unique fragrance, between a Meyer lemon and a mandarin orange. The zest is very fragrant. Yuzu can be used fresh, or dried and ground to make a spice. The juice is very sour and can be used in a similar fashion to lemon juice.

zasai (Chinese pickled vegetables)

Zasai or zha cai is a Chinese pickle originating in Sichuan Province. It is made from the stem of a mustard plant by lactofermenting it with salt and chili peppers. Sichuan pepper may be added in some preparations.