Ingredients in Alphabetical Order

Agar Agar

See Kanten.

Ajitsuke nori

Roasted, seasoned seaweed often comes in 1 1/2 – 2 inch strips and is eaten with hot rice, wrapped around onigiri rice balls, or cut finely as a garnish.

Rice variation: Onigiri


A thick paste of sweet red azuki beans used in dessert preparations, an is either coarse (tsubu an) or smooth (koshi an).

Dorayaki , Shiratama dango , Ichigo daifuku


Crushed, roasted seaweed used as a garnish on dishes like okonomiyaki and yakisoba. Can be substituted with finely cut roasted nori.


Cooking sake

Never used for drinking, cooking sake is used most often in simmered dishes to tenderize meats, add flavour and counteract “fishy” aromas. Can be substituted with drinking sake. Read more here.

Nizakana, Sakanano misoni

Daikon radish

Large, elongated white radish eaten raw in salads, grated to a pulp and used as a garnish, or chopped and stewed in simmered nimono preparations. See page ** for grating instructions.

Shiro miso soup with carrot and onions ; Sunomono salad variations, Agedashi tofu and variations , Yakizakana


Katsuo (fish) or kombu (kelp) broth used in soups and sauces, or for simmering vegetables, meat and fish. Most commonly bought in powdered form. Read more here.

Misoshiru and variations , Agedashi tofu , Vegetable nimono , Sakanano misoni , Noodles , Okonomiyaki

Dashi kombu

Kelp used to make kombu dashi broth, it is also added to simmered dishes to create umami flavour. Purchased dried, any excess salt is wiped away with a wet cloth before use. Read more here.

Sakanano misoni , Sushi meshi

Enoki mushrooms

Long, thin mushrooms that grow in bundles, enoki can be eaten raw, grilled, sautéed, or served in soups.

Misoshiru variations , Gomaae variation


Pickled ginger served with sushi to refresh the palate.



See Sesame Seeds.

Harusame noodles

Potato, corn, bean or yam starch “vermicelli” noodles that become clear when cooked. Popularly used in sunomono salad or in nimono preparations. Somen noodles (made of wheat) can be used as a substitute in salad preparations.

Sunomono salad

Inari tofu

A thin, sweet sheet of fried tofu that is used as a topping on hot noodle soup, or is stuffed with rice to make inari sushi.


Kabocha squash

A sweet pumpkin with a tough, green outer skin and firm, orange coloured flesh. It’s often used in simmered preparations or fried as tempura.

Vegetable nimono variation


Like its mature root, daikon sprouts have a sharp, radishy spice. Use in salads or wrapped in temaki-zushi.



A loaf of steamed fish paste commonly available in white or pink colours, it is popularly served in simmered oden dishes or sliced and used as a garnish on hot noodle soups.



A jelly made from powdered agar agar, it is a vegan-friendly version of gelatin. Kanten itself is flavourless, but can be made with any variety of flavourful juice, and cut into cubes or poured into a creative mould.



Potato starch used to coat tofu, meat, or fish in agemono (fried food) dishes. Corn starch is an appropriate substitute.

Agedashi tofu , Ichigo daifuku


Dried, fermented and smoked bonito (tuna) is shaved to create these flakes, which can be used to make katsuo dashi broth, or sprinkled on other foods as a garnish.

Agedashi tofu , Nimono variations , Okonomiyaki

Kinako (Soy bean powder)

A soy bean powder with a roasted, nutty flavour, it is often sprinkled on dessert dishes, blended into milk, or used as a flavouring agent for custards and other sweets.

Shiratama dango


See Dashi kombu.

Koshi an (see An)

See An.


Spicy chili oil used in dressings and dips, or as a garnish on soups.

Misoshiru variations


Creamy and sweet, Japanese mayonnaise is particularly suited to  Japanese dishes like okonomiyaki or sushi, but it can be used as a spread or dip (as in western cuisine). Regular mayonnaise can be substituted, but purchasing a Japanese brand is highly recommended.

Temaki-zushi, Okonomiyaki


A sweet cooking wine made from rice, it is used in stocks, sauces and dressings. If not available, substitute with a mixture of 3 parts cooking sake to 1 part sugar. Read more here.

Spinach gomaae, Sunomono salad, Agedashi tofu , Vegetable nimono, Nizakana, Noodles, Dorayaki

Miso paste

Fermented soy bean paste used as a flavouring in soups, sauces and dips, it is available in white (shiro), red (aka), and mixed (awase) types. Read more here.

Misoshiru, Sakanano misoni


A decorative, mild mustard green that can be eaten raw in salads and sandwiches, or used steamed, boiled or sautéed as you would prepare spinach or other leafy greens.

Misoshiru variations


A rice flour used for making sweet or savoury dumplings. Do not use regular rice flour as a substitute, as mochiko‘s texture is a result of the sweet glutinous rice from which it is milled.

Shiratama dango, Ichigo daifuku

Noodles (Soba, Udon, Somen, Ramen)

Made from wheat, buckwheat or starch, Japanese dishes serve noodles in hot or cold soups, with cool dipping sauces, in simmered hot pot dishes, or in salads. Read more here.

Sunomono salad, Noodles


Nori encompassess all edible seaweeds but is most commonly used to describe the roasted sheets used to wrap sushi. It is also available flaked or cut into thin strips to use as a garnish. Do not use Korean-style seaweeds, which have been roasted in oil, as a substitue for sushi preparations. See Ajitsuke nori, Aonori.


Okonomiyaki sauce

A thick, sweet, spiced (but not spicy) Worcestershire-like sauce designed to be eaten on okonomiyaki. It can also be used interchangeably with the stronger-flavoured tonkatsu (pork cutlet) sauce in a pinch.

Rice variation Chaa-han, Okonomiyaki


Soy- and citrus-based sauce used as a salad dressing, condiment for meats and fish, or as a dip for hot pot dishes. Mix in a smidgen of sesame oil for a great all-purpose salad dressing. Read more here.

Agedashi tofu variations

Potato starch

See Katakuriko.


Lotus root is available fresh or in vaccuum packs at Asian markets. Peel, then slice cross-wise to expose its trademark pattern of holes. Popular in simmered nimono style dishes, fried in tempura, or as a crisp salad garnish once baked or fried, renkon remains slightly crunchy even when fully cooked.

Vegetable nimono


White Japanese rice is prized for its texture and is the cornerstone of every Japanese meal. For a healthier alternative, use a mixture of genmai (brown rice) and uruchi mai (white rice). See this page for more detail.

Basic rice, Temaki-zushi, Sushi meshi

Rice vinegar

Less pungent than white and cider vinegars, rice vinegar is suited to the generally delicate flavours of Japanese salad dishes. Read more here.

Sunomono salad, Sushi meshi


See Cooking sake.

Sesame oil

Used most often in Japanese cuisine as a finishing oil for its flavour and aroma rather than as a cooking oil, it is common in salad dressings and dipping sauces. Read more here.

Spinach gomaae and variations

Sesame seeds

Roasted white and black sesame seeds are used whole, ground, or in a paste in desserts, salad dressings, and garnishes. Tahini is not an appropriate substitute for ground sesame or sesame paste in Japanese dishes. Read more here

Spinach gomaae and variations

Shichimi togarashi

Seven-spice powder used to garnish hot noodle soups, it is often mistranslated and mislabelled as “Nanami Togarashi.” Chinese chili powder can be used as a substitute.



A rice flour designed for use in creating sweet shiratama dumplings, you can use mochiko as an alternative.

Shiratama dango, Ichigo daifuku


A fragrant herb also known as perilla, it is used as a garnish or a sushi filling.


Shoyu (Soy sauce)

The main flavouring agent in Japanese food, shoyu is a fermented soy product that comes in regular and light varieties. Wheat-free tamari is a gluten-free alternative. Read more here.

Agedashi tofu , YakizakanaVegetable nimono, Noodles, Temaki-zushi


See Rice Vinegar.


Always use white sugar in a Japanese recipe unless otherwise noted.

Spinach gomaaeVegetable nimono, Nizakana, Sakanano misoni, Sushi meshi, Dorayaki, Kanten, Ichigo daifuku

Sushi rice

Sushi rice is short-grained and stickier than medium-grained rices. However, regular Japanese white rice can be used in sushi preparations.

Sushi meshi

Sushi vinegar

Rice vinegar that has been sweetened and seasoned for convenient use in making sushi rice. See The Japanese Cupboard.

Sunomono salad, Sushi meshi


Powdered vinegar and seasoning for convenient use in making sushi rice. See The Japanese Cupboard.

Sushi meshi


Bamboo shoots are used in simmered nimono and tempura preparations, and are available whole in vaccuum packs. Cut open and rinse thoroughly before cooking. The tougher base of the takenoko should be cut into thinner pieces than the tender tip.

Vegetable nimono variation


See Shoyu (Soy sauce).


Fried tempura batter pieces are used in various dishes to add a crunchy texture, or as a garnish on hot soups.



Japanese bean curd is mildly flavoured and commonly available in soft and medium-firm textures. It is most commonly eaten raw with a garnish or on salads, or simmered in soups and hot pot dishes. See inari tofu and usuage tofu for alternative tofu products.

Misoshiru, Agedashi tofu

Tonkatsu sauce

A thick, spiced (but not spicy) Worcestershire-like sauce eaten on pork cutlet, as a garnish on omelettes, or mixed with ketchup to flavour fried rice or fried noodle dishes. In a pinch, it can also be used interchangeably with the milder and sweeter okonomiyaki sauce.

Basic rice variations

Tsubu an

See An.

Usuage tofu

Thin slices of deep-fried tofu with an airy texture, it is sliced and used in soups or as an ingredient in cooked mixed salad (aemono) preparations.

Misoshiru variations


A light and crunchy kelp used in salads and soups. Purchased dried in air-tight bags, it is reconstituted before eating.

Misoshiru, Sunomono salad, Noodles


A green Japanese horseradish available in powdered form (just add water to use) or pregrated in squeezable tubes.

Noodles, Temaki-zushi

Yude azuki

Boiled sweet red beans used as a dessert topping or filling. Similar to an, except these beans are not ground into a paste.

Kanten, Shiratama dango