Glossary

Key:
(k) = usually written in kana

A

  • Abura-age (油揚げ): thinly-sliced deep fried tofu
  • Akashiyaki (明石焼き): an eggy grilled batter ball filled with octopus; a speciality of Akashi; similar to takoyaki; called tamagoyaki by locals – blog post
  • Amakuchi(甘口): lit. ‘sweet mouth’; indicates a mild flavour
  • Amazake (甘酒): sweet rice wine
  • Amezaiku (飴細工): the craft of sugar sculpting – blog post
  • Ao-nori(青海苔 (k)): a green seaweed powder; used as a condiment
  • Arabushi(荒節): smoked bonito (lit: crude knob)
  • Atsuage(厚揚げ): deep fried tofu
  • Awasedashi(合わせだし): lit. “combination stock”; this is dashi made from katsuobushi (bonito) and konbu (kombu)

B

  • Beni-shouga (紅生姜): pickled ginger with a red to pink colour; a tsukemono (pickled food)
  • Betayaki (べた焼き): a grilled wheat pancake filled with food leftovers like konnyaku, beef sinew, and beans; the flat version of rajioyaki

 

C

  • Chakin-zushi(茶巾寿司):sushi rolls wrapped in a thin omelette
  • Chawan-mushi (茶碗蒸し): steamed, savoury egg custard
  • Chikuwa(竹輪): a type of nerimono; ground fish paste made to look like tubes of bamboo
  • Choboyaki (チョボ焼き): a predecessor of takoyaki; a grilled round batter named after the dripping sound the batter makes when falling on the hot grill – chobo-chobo
  • Chunou-soosu(中濃ソース):a semi-sweet, brown sauce made from fruits and vegetables. It has medium viscosity, like a thicker Worcestershire sauce (note: 濃・のう means ‘thick’ or ‘concentrated’)
  • Chuukara(中辛):medium spiciness level

 

D

  • Daikon(大根): lit. ‘big root’; Japanese raddish; looks like an enlarged white carrot; it has a mild, watery taste and is very crunchy
  • Dashi(だし):Japanese stock – blog post
  • Deba-bouchou (出刃包丁): a broad-bladed knife primarily used to prepare fish
  • Derayaki (デラ焼き): Osaka-style ikayaki with egg
  • Dondonyaki (どんどん焼き): pan-fried wheat batter rolled onto a stick; named after the don-don-don sound of the taiko drum
  • Doteni (土手煮): beef offal stew cooked with hatccho-miso; a Nagoya dish

 F

  • Fugu (河豚): pufferfish; also a dish of thin sliced, raw pufferfish
  • Funoyaki (麩の焼き(k)): the predecessor of okonomiyaki; a grilled round of wheat flour brushed with miso, topped with sugar and poppy seeds, and rolled like a crepe
  • Furaido-chikin(フライドチキン):fried chicken
  • Furikake(振り掛け):a dried condiment that is sprinkled over rice. It usually contains dried fish, seaweed, sesame seeds, sugar, salt, and MSG.

G

  • Gandomaki(がんど巻): fried tofu and vegetable patties
  • Gohan(ご飯): cooked rice; a meal
  • Gouya (ゴーヤ): bitter melon (also called: tsurureishi (蔓茘枝( k)); nigauri (苦瓜 (k)))
  • Gyuu-nabe (牛鍋): beef grilled with a savoury miso seasoning on a portable stove; a Yokohama speciality

H

  • Hacchou-miso(八丁味噌): a famous miso from Nagoya
  • Hadakabushi(裸節): smoked, sundried and shaped bonito (lit: naked knob)
  • Hako-zushi (箱寿司): pressed sushi; rice and sushi ingredients (usually raw fish) layered in a box, pressed, and sliced into bite-sized pieces
  • Hamo no bainiku-ae (鱧の梅肉和え): pike conger with sour plum sauce
  • Hanpen(半片 (k)): a type of nerimono; triangles of flavoured ground fish pounded into a cake; comes in white or black varieties
  • Hansuke-nabe (半助鍋): eel-head soup
  • Hibachi (火鉢): an open-grate grill used over open fire
  • Hiroshimayaki (広島焼き): Hiroshima’s version of okonomiyaki, with yakisoba added to the batter – blog post
  • Hojicha(保持茶): roasted green tea
  • Honkarebushi(本枯節): the best quality of katsuobushi
  • Hotate(帆立 (k)): scallop

I

  • Ichiban dashi(一番だし):the dashi from the first making of the stock
  • Ichimi tougarashi(一味唐辛子): lit: ‘one taste chilli pepper’; ground red chilli pepper
  • Ichigo shootokeeki(いちご ショートケーキ): strawberry shortcake; popular during Christmas – blog post
  • Ika(烏賊 (k)): squid
  • Ika-maki(烏賊巻 (k)): squid rolled in fish paste
  • Ikayaki (イカ焼き): in Osaka – squid-filled crepes that are cooked and flattened between two hot plates; elsewhere in Japan – grilled, skewered squid with sauce – blog post
  • Inari-zushi (いなり寿司): abura-age pouches filled with sushi rice
  • Insutanto-raamen (インスタントラーメン): instant ramen; also called souseki-raamen
  • Iriko(炒り子 (k)):dried baby sardines
  • Issen-youshoku (): literally ‘one sen Western food’ (i.e.: cheap food); a grilled wheat batter dish with green onions and topped with Worcestershire sauce; a predecessor of okonomiyaki
  • Iwashi(鰯 (k)):Japanese pilchards
  • Izakaya(居酒屋): a small eatery, similar to a tavern or pub. They feature a food menu with items that are good for snacking and pair well with the alcohol served. They are casual establishments for after-work drinks.

K

  • Kaiten-zushi (回転寿司): a sushi restaurant featuring a conveyor belt; plates of sushi are placed on the belt and move past the seated customers, who can then pick the plates they want
  • Kaki(牡蠣 (k)): oyster
  • Kani(蟹 (k)): crab
  • Kanikama(カニ蒲): imitation crab sticks
  • Kappou (割烹): a style of cooking referring to traditional Japanese cuisine with a focus on freshness, simplicity, and elegance
  • Karakuchi(辛口): lit. ‘hot mouth’; high spiciness level
  • Karashi(からし): Japanese mustard
  • Karee-raisu(カレーライス): curry with rice; sweeter than curries from India or SE Asia – blog post
  • Katsu(カツ): cutlet; usually refers to pork cutlet that is breaded and fried. An abbreviation of カツレツ
  • Katsuo(鰹 (k)):bonito; skipjack tuna
  • Katsuobushi(鰹節):dried and fermented bonito – blog post
  • Kayaku-gohan (加薬ご飯): fried rice containing carrot, burdock root, konnyaku, shiitake, abura-age, and chicken
  • Kazunoko(数の子):herring roe; a traditional New Years dish
  • Kitto Katto(キットカット):KitKat – blog post
  • Kezuribushi(削り節):shaved flakes of katsuobushi; synonym: okaka
  • Kikuna (菊菜): edible chrysanthemum leaves with a distinctive herbal taste
  • Kinchaku(巾着): lit: ‘cloth purse’; pouches of fried tofu with mochi in the centre
  • Kitamaebune(北前船):cargo ships that sailed around Japan during the Edo period. It is also the name of the shipping route that these ships took.
  • Kitsune-udon (狐饂飩(k)): lit ‘fox udon’; udon-noodle soup with abura-age (pieces of fried tofu) – blog post
  • Koikuchi-shouyu (濃口醤油): dark soy sauce
  • Kome(米): uncooked rice
  • Konbini(コンビニ): convenience store
  • Konbu(昆布 (k)):English spelling – kombu; a variety of seaweed; often comes in large strips with a powdery white substance on the surface – blog post
  • Konbucha(昆布茶 (k)):tea made by boiling powdered konbu and green tea; not the same as ‘kombucha’ (see konbu blog post for more)
  • Konnyaku(婚約 (k)): a gelatinous foodstuff made from the starch of the konjac potato. It has a firm, rubbery texture, and little flavour. It is also known as ‘devil’s tongue’
  • Korokke(コロッケ): croquettes
  • Koucha-kinoko(紅茶キノコ):kombucha – a fermented tea drink of Chinese origins (see konbu blog post for more)
  • Kuidaore (食い倒れ): lit ‘eat until you drop’; the unofficial motto of Osaka – blog post
  • Kujira(鯨 (k)): whale
  • Kurobuta(黒豚): black pig; Berkshire pig
  • Kushiage (串揚げ): skewers of pork and spring onion, battered and fried
  • Kushikatsu (串カツ): battered, deep-fried skewers of meat – blog post

M

  • Matsumae-zuke(松前漬け):a pickled dish native to Matsumae, Hokkaido. It is a mixture of dried squid and konbu boiled in a sweet soy sauce mixture.
  • Maze-karee(混ぜカレー):lit. ‘mixed curry’; a curry dish where the rice and curry are already mixed together. 混ぜる means ‘to mix’
  • Miso(味噌):fermented soybean paste
  • Miso-dengaku(味噌田楽): ingredients coated in miso and grilled over charcoal; popular ingredients include tofu, eggplant and daikon
  • Mizuame (水飴): a sugar syrup made from rice or potato starch, similar to American corn syrup
  • Monjayaki (もんじゃ焼き): a loose batter cooked on a flat iron grill with various ingredients thrown and mixed in; designed to be eaten off the grill
  • Mottainai (勿体無い): waste not want not; in relation to food, it means using every bit of an ingredient, letting nothing go to waste
  • Mushi-purin (蒸しプリン): steamed Japanese style crème caramel – blog post

N

  • Nabemono(鍋物): a general term for hot-pot dishes; 鍋 (‘nabe’) means pot; these are dishes that are cooked all together in one pot, and include dishes like oden, sukiyaki, and shabu-shabu
  • Nagaimo (長芋): Chinese yam; a starchy root vegetable that has a slippery and sticky texture; similar to yamaimo
  • Nanban: this term has several meaning; the one most applicable in terms of food is ‘something exotic (particularly Western), and desirable’, or ‘food that prepared with chilli peppers or spring onions’.
  • Nashi(梨 (k)):Asian pear; a variety of pear that has a watery, crunchy texture, mild flavour, and is a cream-yellow colour
  • Nattou(納豆):fermented soybeans with a strong odour and slimy texture; a common breakfast food and an acquired taste
  • Nerian (練餡): sweet red bean paste
  • Nerimono (練り物): a term that describes products made from fish-paste (minced, pressed fish meat); includes ingredients like chikuwa, hanpen, and kanikama
  • Niban dashi(二番だし):the dashi obtained from reusing the ingredients from making ichiban dashi
  • Niboshi (煮干し): dried anchovies or sardines
  • Nikuten (にくてん): Hyogo’s version of okonomiyaki
  • Nishin(鰊 (k)):Pacific herrings

O

  • Odamaki-mushi (小田巻蒸し): chawan-mushi – steamed, savoury egg custard – with the addition of udon noodles
  • Oden(御田 (k)): a type of nabemono; ingredients are cooked in one pot and left in the broth until served – blog post
  • Odentane(御田種): a collective name for all the ingredients used in oden
  • Oden-ya(御田屋): shops selling/specialising in oden
  • Okaka(おかか): shaved flakes of katsuobushi; synonym: kezuribushi
  • Okazu (お菜): a side dish that accompanies rice
  • Okawari(お代わり): second helpings (of food)
  • Okonomiyaki (お好み焼き): savoury pancakes with various fillings
  • Okosama-ranchi(お子様ランチ): children’s menu
  • Omuraisu(オムライス): omurice; a Japanese youshoku dish where fried rice is used as a filling for an omelette – blog post
  • Omusoba(オム蕎麦): an omurice filled with fried soba noodles instead of fried rice
  • Omutako(オムタコ): an omurice filled with an Okinawan specialty – taco rice
  • Onigiri(お握り(k)):rice balls with various fillings
  • Otoro(大トロ): the fatty underside of the tuna belly; considered the best quality cut

P

  • Purin (プリン): Japanese style crème caramel, particularly one made with gelatin – blog post

S

  • Sanpuru (サンプル): short for shokuhin-sanpuru; fake models of food
  • Satsuma-age(薩摩揚げ (k)): a fried fish cake from Kagoshima
  • Senba-jiru (船場汁): mackerel soup
  • Shiagebushi(仕上げ節): another name for katsuobushi
  • Shiitake(椎茸 (k)):a variety of mushroom; dark brown caps, often streaked with white specks or cracks; usually sold dried
  • Shirataki (白滝 (k)): a white, translucent, chewy noodle made from konnyaku
  • Shokuhin-sanpuru (食品サンプル): fake models of food; usually plastic or other durable synthetic material; often shortened to sanpuru
  • Shouga(生姜 (k)): ginger
  • Shouga-miso-oden(生姜味噌御田 (k)): ginger-miso oden; a speciality of Aomori
  • Shoujin ryouri(精進料理):Buddhist vegetarian cuisine
  • Shouyu(醤油): soy sauce
  • Sokuseki-raamen (即席ラーメン): instant ramen; also called insutanto-raamen
  • Suji(すじ): white fish balls with cartilage
  • Sukesouyaki (助惣焼き): a grilled wheat flour round filled with nerian, sugar, and poppy seeds, and rolled up like a crepe; a predecessor of okonomiyaki
  • Sukimi (剥き身): thin slices of meat or fish
  • Sukiyaki (鋤焼 (k)): a nabemono – hotpot – dish, where the cooked ingredients are dipped in raw egg before being eaten – blog post
  • Suyaki (素焼き): takoyaki without any sauce or garnish

 

R

  • Rajioyaki (ラジオ焼き): predecessor to takoyaki; a large grilled batter round filled with konnyaku, beans, and beef sinew

T

  • Tako-raisu(タコライス):taco rice; an Okinawan speciality
  • Takoyaki (たこ焼き): rounds of wheat flour batter filled with octopus pieces; octopus balls – blog post
  • Tamagoyaki (卵焼き): the local name for akashiyaki 
  • Tanemono(種物): ingredients
  • Tenkasu (天かす): the by-product of tenpura; the crunchy bits of tempura batter left over from cooking tempura
  • Teppanyaki (鉄板焼き): a style of cooking where food is cooked and served on a large metal plate in front of the customers
  • Tessa (テッサ): a dish of thin sliced, raw pufferfish; the Osakan name for the dish known as fugu elsewhere in Japan
  • Tonkatsu(豚カツ):breaded pork cutlet
  • Tori-suki (鳥すき): chicken cooked sukiyaki style
  • Toufu-dengaku(豆腐田楽): a dish of skewered tofu that have been coated in miso and grilled over charcoal
  • Tsukemono (漬物): traditional Japanese-style pickled vegetables
  • Tsukudani(佃煮):preserved food boiled in soy sauce

U

  • Udon-suki (饂飩鋤 (k)): seafood and vegetables cooked sukiyaki style and served with udon and light broth
  • Umami(旨味):the fifth flavour, characterised by an intense savoury flavour (often described as ‘meaty’ or ‘brothy’). Ingredients with high umami include meat, tomatoes, kombu, katsuobushi, and mushrooms.
  • Uo-suki (魚すき): fish cooked sukiyaki style
  • Usuba-bouchou (薄刃包丁): a small-bladed knife used to prepare vegetables; a paring knife
  • Usukuchi-shouyu (薄口醤油): light soy sauce

 

W

  • Wagashi(和菓子): traditional Japanese sweets and confectionary
  • Wakabushi(若節):semi-dried katsuobushi
  • Wakame(若布 (k)):a type of seaweed; it is commonly seen as a dark to bright green seaweed floating around in miso soup.
  • Warishita (割り下): a sauce made from sugar, soy sauce, dashi, and sweet and dry sake; it’s used to cook the ingredients in Kanto-style sukiyaki
  • Wasabi(山葵 (k)):wasabi; a member of the Brassicaceae family (includes cabbage, horseradish, and mustard), it has a fiery, nasal-clearing hotness similar to horseradish (although in my opinion it is much more potent that horseradish). It is a distinctive green colour.

 

Y

  • Yaki (焼き): denotes foods cooked by grilling, roasting, broiling or BBQing; usually used as a suffix (eg: okonomiyaki, takoyaki)
  • Yaki-purin (焼きプリン): baked Japanese style crème caramel – blog post
  • Yakisoba (焼きそば): fried noodles
  • Yamaimo (山芋): Japanese mountain yam; a starchy vegetable with a sticky and slippery texture
  • Yatai (屋台): moveable street food stands or stalls
  • Youshoku(洋食):lit: Western food; food of foreign origins that have been adapted to suit the Japanese palate
  • Yude-tamago(ゆで卵): hard boiled eggs

 

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