Japanese-English Glossary

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akamiso (red miso)

Reddish-brown miso made from fermented soybeans and rice. With a salt content of 13%, it is saltier than regular miso.

awase miso (blended miso)

A blend of several types of miso.

chuno sauce (Japanese chuno sauce)

A medium-thick sauce made from fruit, vegetables, and spices. It falls between Worcestershire sauce and tonkatsu sauce in terms of both thickness and taste.

curry powder

Spice mix for curry. Made with 20 to 30 different spices such as turmeric, chili pepper, cumin, coriander seed, and fenugreek.

curry roux

An "instant" curry base that can be added to a pot of coooked meat and vegetables to make Japanese-style curry. Curry roux contains a mixture of flour, curry powder, and meat and vegetable extracts. It comes in blocks, flakes, granules, powder, and paste form.


Dashi is a Japanese soup stock, a basic ingredient in many Japanese dishes. It can be made with a variety of dried fish, seaweed and mushrooms, but it is most commonly made with katsuobushi (flakes of smoked, dried and fermented skipjack tuna) and konbu (kelp).

doubanjiang (broad bean chili paste)

A spicy bean paste made by fermenting broad beans with chili peppers and salt. A staple seasoning ingredient in Sichuan cuisine.

gochujang (red chili paste)

A Korean condiment made by fermenting red chili peppers with glutinous rice and soy beans. It has a spicy, sweet and savory flavor.


An all-purpose seasoning that can be used for boiled dishes, aemono, dressing, etc.


From the Nagoya area, hatcho miso is made with soybeans, koji mold, salt and water. It has a coffee brown color and very firm consistency because the miso is aged in cedar vats under heavy rocks for over two years. Hatcho miso has a salinity of about 11%.

hoshishiitake no modoshijiru (shiitake mushroom soaking liquid)

Water with a flavor acquired from soaking dry shiitake mushrooms. Often used as seasoning.

ichimi togarashi (chili pepper)

Spicy Japanese chili pepper.

kobucha (konbu tea)

A hot, savory drink made using dried konbu (kelp) in place of tea leaves. It can be brewed by adding boiling water to konbu strips, or to konbucha granules.


Steamed rice that has been inoculated with kojikin (aspergillus oryzae). It is used in the production of everything from soy sauce to miso to sake, and contains enzymes that can tenderize meat.

konazansho (sansho pepper)

Sansho can refer to both the fresh berries of the sansho tree, and a dried spice made from the powdered husks of sansho berries. A close relative of Sichuan pepper, sansho has a citrus-like taste that leaves the tongue tingling.

kuromitsu (black sugar syrup)

A thick syrup the color of coffee made from unrefined sugar (kokuto) and water. Used as a sauce for sweets such as warabimochi and kuzukiri.


Tea leaves cultivated in the shade, then ground into a fine vibrant green powder. Matcha is traditionally used by whisking it with hot water to make tea during tea ceremonies, but it can also be used to add color and flavor to foods.


Soy sauce-based soup seasoning. Used mostly with noodles. Available in concentrated form (soup base) or straight (dipping sauce).


Sake made with alcohol and rice malt, mixed into glutinous rice, then fermented. In Japan, it is used to add luster and to sweeten ingredients.


A seasoning paste made with soybeans that are steamed, crushed and fermented with koji mold and salt. The hundreds of miso varieties throughout Japan can be categorized into rice miso, barley miso or soybean miso. They can also be divided into red, white, and blended miso. The salinity, sweetness and flavor can vary greatly depending on ingredients, production methods and fermentation time.

misodoko (miso pickling bed)

Miso paste mixed with sugar and sake or mirin to make pickles.

myoban (alum powder)

A food additive used as a leavening agent in sponge cakes and cookies. Also used as a texturizing agent in pickles and simmered dishes (such as pickled eggplant and chestnuts simmered in syrup).

nam pla (fish sauce)

An amber-colored condiment made from fish that has been fermented with salt. Widely used in the cuisines of Southeast Asia.

nerigoma (sesame paste)

Toasted sesame seeds that have been ground into a smooth paste. Nerigoma differs from tahini in that it is made with whole sesame seed. Tahini is made with hulled sesame seeds.

neriwasabi (wasabi paste)

Wasabi is a horseradish plant in the Brassicaceae family. The pungent root is grated and is commonly used as a condiment for sashimi and sushi. Neriwasabi is a paste sold in a tube.


Mirin that has been boiled to burn off the alcohol.

okonomiyaki sauce

A sweet and savory sauce made from fruit, vegetables and spices. It's like a sweeter and thicker Worcestershire sauce.

panko (Japanese breadcrumbs)

Japanese-style breadcrumbs. Each crumb is big, yet light. Recommended for using in lighter-finish deep frying.

ponzu shoyu (ponzu soy sauce)

A condiment made with soy sauce, vinegar and the juice of several varieties of Japanese citrus fruit.

rayu (chili oil)

A seasoning originally from China. Chili pepper is cooked in vegetable oil, which extracts the chili spiciness.


An alcoholic beverage made from fermented rice. Used to remove distinctive smells and to tenderize meat and fish. Also used to add umami flavor and fragrance. "Cooking Sake" is a type of sake used for cooking only, and usually contains salt.

shichimi togarashi (shichimi seven spice)

Shichimi ("seven spice") is a fragrant condiment made from coarsely ground chili pepper mixed with six other ingredients. The other ingredients and their proportions may vary, but typical examples include sansho, yuzu peel, sesame seeds, poppy seeds, hemp seeds, green shiso, aonori, and dried ginger.


A seasoning valued for its ability to add sweetness and umami to foods, while also being able to tenderize proteins such as meat and fish. It's made by mixing rice koji with salt and water, then heating them to activate enzymes in the koji that saccharify the rice.


Dashi flavored with mirin and salt.

shiromiso (white miso)

Golden yellow in color, shiromiso is a specialty of the the Kyoto region. It is made with twice the rice koji and one third of the salt of most miso, giving it a salinity of about 6%. This imparts a noticeable sweetness when compared to other types of miso. It is often used in aemono dressed dishes and miso pickles. Also known as Saikyo miso.

sho ko shu (Shaoxing (rice wine))

A rice wine from the Shaoxing region of China, with an alcohol content of 14-20%. Consumed directly and also used as a seasoning for foods.

shoyu (soy sauce)

A liquid seasoning made from boiled soybeans, wheat, and salt fermented with koji mold. Salt content is about 16%. Used to season foods as well as impart umami and flavor.

tamarijoyu (tamari soy sauce)

A thick, dark soy sauce made without the addition of wheat, this is a specialty of the Chubu region and is often served with sashimi.

tianmianjiang (sweet bean paste)

A Chinese sweet bean sauce made with flour and fermented soy beans. The sweet taste results from the saccharification of starches into sugar. The fragrance is enhanced when heated, which is why it is often used in stir-fries.

usukuchi shoyu (usukuchi soy sauce)

Popular soy sauce originating in the Kansai region. Although it has a lighter color than regular soy sauce, it is more salty. This makes it appropriate for seasoning food without turning it brown.

wagarashi (Japanese mustard)

Spicy mustard that's yellow or ocher in color. It comes in powdered form and can be mixed with water to create mustard.


Japanese horseradish. The root has a strong and refreshing impact when served grated.

XO jan (XO sauce (mixed seasoning paste))

Originally from Hong Kong, this is made with more than 10 different kinds of ingredients, including soybean oil, scallops, and ham.


A condiment from Kyushu that comes in two varieties. Red yuzukosho is made with red chili peppers, salt and ripe yellow yuzu zest. Green yuzukosho is made with green chili peppers, salt and unripe green yuzu zest.

zarameto (granulated sugar)

Coarse white sugar. A refined white sugar with large clear crystals.