If you’ve ever wanted to try your hand at preparing and cooking some healthy Japanese meals, you’ll first need to make sure you have some important pantry items on hand. Umami Insider has composed this collection of amazing Japanese ingredients you can purchase on our online store. They are quite versatile in a number of dishes and many are very health as well!
1. Dark Soy Sauce (koikuchi)
Mainly referred to simply as “soy sauce” in America, koikuchi is the most commonly used type of soy sauce both in recipes and as a condiment. Soy sauce is made from fermented soybeans and a wheat and brine mixture. Soy sauce is used as an ingredient in many recipes or for dipping many food items.
2. Light Soy Sauce (usukuchi)
Light soy sauce is typically used in a marinade, and the lighter color helps the food retain its color instead of being darkened. Some of the differences between dark and light soy sauce are that the light soy sauce is saltier and it is made in a slightly different manner as well.
An essential component in many recipes, mirin is a Japanese cooking wine. It is slightly sweet and is often used in stir-fries. It can also be used as an ingredient in marinades for meat and fish or added to rice dishes.
4. Cooking Saké
Cooking saké is a cooking rice wine. It is very similar to mirin but not as sweet. It also has a slightly higher alcohol content than mirin. Cooking saké is used mainly for stir-frying meats and vegetables. Both cooking wines add subtle flavoring to the dishes they are used in.
5. Sesame Oil
Made from sesame seeds, the different variations of sesame oil can be used as a dressing, a seasoning component or for frying. Sesame oil is also one of the healthiest oils available, providing benefits such as lower blood pressure, heart health and healthy skin.
Miso is sold as a paste made from fermented soybeans. It is most often found as the main component of miso soup but it has many other culinary uses. Another common use is as a marinade on fish. There are a few variations of miso available, made with added ingredients such as tofu, bonito, and seaweed.
Another important component of miso soup, as well as many other soups and stews, dashi is a broth made from kombu, an edible kelp, and bonito (tuna) flakes. If you can find either of those ingredients, you can make your own dashi, but it is also fairly easier to purchase it in powdered form. By following the simple directions on the packet, you can quickly (and less expensively) make dashi with ease.
8. Japanese Mayo
Japanese Mayo is a type of mayonnaise used in Japanese cuisine. This type of mayo differs from American-style mayonnaise in that it only uses the egg yolk, as opposed to both the whites and the yolks. Additionally, it is made with rice vinegar instead of distilled vinegar. Using just the egg yolk yields a mayo that is richer and creamier. It can be used in sushi, in salads, on vegetables and in many other recipes.
9. Nanami (Shichimi) Togarashi
A spicy seasoning made from assorted chili peppers, black and white sesame seed, ginger, orange peel and seaweed. Nanami Togarashi is often added to rice and noodles, though it would make a great accompaniment to many Western foods as well, including fries, burgers and even Bloody Marys!
10. Japanese Sauce
What is often referred to as tonkatsu sauce in Japanese restaurants in America is simply Japanese Sauce in Japan. Used in stir-fry, noodle dishes and as a soup base, the sauce can be compared to a sweeter and thicker variation of Worcestershire sauce.