All About Asian Food

Japanese Seasonings 101

Kikkoman Soy Sauce

Japan has an ancient tradition of culinary dishes. From their spices, to their eating utensils, to their methods of cooking, the Japanese have enough history behind their cooking to have mastered almost any dish.

Today we're going to go over some of the various ingredients the Japanese use in their cooking, and the different results and recipes you can expect to get with these ingredients.

Soy Sauce

Soy sauce is one of the most obvious Japanese ingredients. Even though the Japanese didn't invent it, they still rely on it heavily. Soy sauce was originally made in China, by fermenting soy beans with salt and water. It's typically used as a condiment for rice and noodle dishes, and offers up a saltier, more savory flavor. People often use soy sauce for glazes, dips, barbecues, and various other meals. In Japan it is used very lightly, though in America we tend to overdo it a little bit.

Curry

Curry is another seasoning/meal that the Japanese didn't invent, but have widely adopted and made their own. It was even shown that each Japanese person had curry approximately 127 times in 2005. Curry is typically a spicy dish, often mixed with meat and vegetables, then served over rice. Other kinds of curry are served with breaded pork cutlet, fried rice, or even a raw egg. There are a wide range of instant curries available, curry powders, and easy to make curry dinners. It's pretty simple to make, and will offer a rich, hearty flavor to whatever you're pairing it with.

Dashi
Dashi Soup

Dashi is a common ingredient used to make Japanese soup. There are various types and styles available, depending on what soup you're trying to make. Dashi, at its most basic requirement, typically calls for kelp as well as some variety of fish. People often make their own by combining tuna flakes with kombu, as well as some spices, and sometimes even shiitake mushrooms. People often make their own home made dashi to avoid flavor enhancers like MSG or high sodium doses.

Yakiniku

Yakiniku is a unique style of barbecuing that was introduced to Japan post WWII. It is common in Yakiniku restaurants for raw food to be brought out to guests, and for the people to cook their own food using a grill at the table. Typically vegetables and meat are grilled, though beef is the main preference. There are various types of sauces associated with Yakiniku. The sauces can be similar to barbecue sauce, although with something of a lighter and less spicy effect to them. The sauces are typically made with mirin, soy sauce, garlic, and sesame.

Fish Sauce

Fish sauce is common across South East Asia, as well as some areas of China and Japan. It is a typical ingredient for soups, casseroles, sauces, curries, and noodle dishes. The sauces are strongly flavored, so they tend to be used lightly. It's commonly used as a condiment, though it can also used in cooking and food preparation.

Sesame Oil

Sesame Oil is used in a variety of different meals. Although it's usually added toward the end of the cooking process because sesame oil will begin to smoke at hot temperatures. It is popular for its health benefits, Furikake seasoning which include a good source of antioxidants, vitamins, and minerals, omega fatty acids. The sesame oils have also been shown to be effective in reducing cholesterol.

Furikake

Furikake is sort of like Japanese salt and pepper, and is commonly used to add a little flavor to plain white rice. It typically uses ingredients such as seaweed, sesame seeds, dried fish, salt, and sometimes MSG. It stores pretty easily, though it should be kept in a cool dry place to ensure that it lasts.

This is just a basic run through of the types of seasonings and flavors you might to expect in a run into while in Japan. Hopefully this will make you a little more savvy about the ingredients when you order from a restaurant.

20 Comments

Cathy said:

I am looking for a sauce that you put on your rice, we had it tonight, in Ft. Smith ark. and they called it yum yum sauce do you have any Ideal what it was. thanks,

Hey Cathy, thanks for the comment. There is a type of sauce called Sakura sauce, also called White Sauce or Yum Yum Sauce. It has a color sort of like ranch dressing, sometimes with more of a pink or orange hue, and is typically meant for steak or shrimp. You can find several different recipes to make your own online, such as this one, although one of the bigger manufacturers of the sauce that we found would be Terry Ho's Yum Yum Sauce.

biron said:

looking for japanese sauce recipes to use with my hibachi.

Edward Reed said:

I am looking for a plastic dish set that would be nice for sushi and
tempura.Tea service and Sake set would be good also.Let me know
when more sets come in.

Here is a link to our Asian Dishes: http://www.asianfoodgrocer.com/category/japanese-dishware
There are some melamine and ceramic styles. We are also going to get some new beautiful Japanese dishes and they should be available before Christmas.

steve leddon said:

I am Vice President of Terry Ho Products LLC. I see you are familiar with our Yum Yum sauce. Would you be interested in selling it on your site?

Thanks,
Steve Leddon

Pam said:

do you use Yasai Fumi Furikake rice seasoning? I am trying to find a supplier so I can purchase

Hi Pam, I'm sorry but we not carry that manufacturer. All of Furikake can be found here: http://www.asianfoodgrocer.com/category/furikake-seasoning

I hope this is helpful :)

Christi PHILLIPS said:

I am looking for a ginger sauce recipe commonly used on salads in Japaneese steak houses, any ideas?

Hi Christi :)
I hate to send you to another site, but try this one:
http://allrecipes.com/recipe/japanese-ginger-salad-dressing/

It looks like it has all the correct ingredients.

Cathy said:

I am looking for Dashi no moto by Hime. I am not familiar with any of the other Dashi's on the market, are they all the same or could you point me in the direction of maybe an exact substitute?

Hi Cathy, I don't know if I have an exact substitute. But here is a Dashi powder we offer, that is quite popular and should work as a similar application: http://www.asianfoodgrocer.com/product/18061-shimaya-iriko-dashi

Michele Powers said:

My husband and I love restaurant seaweed salad and have had no luck finding the stringy, chewy seaweed used in their dish. Could you please tell us which dried seaweed to purchase to make this dish? We have been told wakame but which one/variety/kind and do you sale it????? Thank you :-)

Hi Michele, I think that is a special type of seaweed. We do carry a great wakame, that we use for soups, but I'm not sure how it would translate into the salad you enjoy. You may need to hunt for a recipe first. Here is the Wakame I recommend: http://www.asianfoodgrocer.com/product/wp-genkai-wakame-2-oz Thanks!

Julia Kessler said:

Hello,

I recently found out that I have a soy intolerance and am trying to find new recipes for stir fry and soup. I used to use make a stir fry sauce that was a combination of oyster sauce, ginger, soy sauce, and chicken broth, but I can't use oyster sauce or soy sauce anymore. I've tried experimenting with fish sauce and ginger but it doesn't have that "asian" taste.

Do you have any suggestions for ingredients I should try?

Thanks!

I'm sorry to hear about your intolerance, I know life would be tough without soy sauce. This is the first time we've run into this problem so unfortunately we don't have an easy answer- but we've got an idea!

Our suggestion would be to take your chicken broth, add a bit of rice vinegar or cane vinegar, katsuoboshi (fish flakes), ginger, and garlic. This will give you that complex, difficult-to-describe, sweet, savory and slightly pungent Asian flavor. Some vinegars can be more pungent, and some can be more sweet, so it really depends on what you're going for. You'll have to experiment with the proper portions to use, because as we said, this is sort of new territory for us too. But we would love to hear back from you!!

jeannie said:

i love asian food but im looking for very low sodium soy sauce and low sodium noodles what i mean by low sodium is 350mgs or lower.

Hi Jeanie :)
Try these guys out. Tkis is the lowest salt content soy sauce, and it is organic: http://www.asianfoodgrocer.com/product/maruman-organic-soy-sauce-16-6-fz

And our Shirataki Noodles contain no salt at all! http://www.asianfoodgrocer.com/category/shirataki-noodles

Ernie said:

Do anyone have a recipe for seaweed salad dressing?

Alison said:

Any idea where to buy the Terry Ho's Yum yum sauce at?? Wal-Mart in my hometown used to carry it but now I can't find it and it was only like $4 or $5 a bottle, now I can't find it at walmart. I found it on amazon and ebay, but I'm not willing to pay $15 or more for one bottle!!!!

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