General Glossary of Terms

General Glossary of Terms

Here is a list of all the terms you need to know for Japanese food! Please look at the bottom for Japanese cutting technique terms, and how to do them!

Here is a list of all the terms you need to know for Japanese food! Please look at the bottom for Japanese cutting technique terms, and how to do them!

abura: oil.
abura-age: deep fried tofu slices.
Aemono: Vegetables or meats mixed with a dressing or sauce.
Agari: Green tea.
age: deep fried.
Aji-no-moto: Monosodium glutamate (MSG)
Aka miso: Red fermented soy bean paste.
amazake :feremented rice drink that is sweet and white. Normally served warm in the winter.
amiyaki: cooked over a wire grill.
an: sweetened azuki beans cooked and pureed.
Anko-nabe: Monkfish stew.
anmitsu: dessert made from agar-agar, an, and sugar.
asa gohan: breakfast.
awabi: abalone.
awamori : an Okinawan brandy-like liquor made from rice
Azuki or adzuki: a small red bean.

baataa: butter.
Basashi: Horse sashimi.
battera-zushi: Osaka-style pressed and molded mackerel sushi.
Beni shoga: Red pickled ginger.
bento: traditional boxed lunch.
biiru: beer.
burokkori: broccoli.
Buta: Pork or pork meat.

o-cha: green tea (the o is honorific).
chaji: the formal tea ceremony before which a kaiseki meal is served.
chanko-nabe: seafood and vegetable hotpot eaten by sumo wrestlers.
chanpuru: Okinawan style stir-fry of tofu, leeks and eggs plus other ingredients.
chawan: rice bowl.
chawan mushi: egg custard with assorted chopped vegetables.
ochazuke: rice topped with flakes of salmon, pickled plum, or other things, over which green tea is poured.
chikuwa: fish cake formed in a hollow tube.
chirashi-zushi: assorted raw fish on a bed of vinegared rice.
chiizu: cheese.

daikon: a long, white Japanese radish.
daizu: soybeans, in their natural form.
dango: small, round, flour dumplings often served skewered.
dashi: a soup stock made from kelp and fish (usually bonito fish).
dengaku: tofu or konnyaku broiled with a sweet miso topping.
Doburok:. Sort of a thick, soupy sake.
Donburi: a large bowl for rice or noodles.

ebi: shrimp.
Edamame: Boiled soybeans, served in the pod as an appetizer. The Japanese have been eating them since the 10th century.
ekiben: a boxed lunch sold at train stations.
enoki: long, thin, white mushrooms.

fugu: blowfish. It is prized for its texture when served as sashimi (raw).
Fugu-chiri: Blowfish soup.
Fuki. A fibrous vegetable often simmered in broth
furikake: a sprinkled topping for rice. Usually made from salty dried fish or pickled plum and shiso.
furutsu: fruit.

gari: sliced pickled ginger, often as a accompaniment to sushi/sashimi. It is believed the gari cleanses the palate for the next piece of sushi, and destroys harmful bacteria that may have been consumed with the fish.
genmai: brown rice.
ginan: gingko nuts. Prized for medicinal properties!
gobo: burdock root.
gohan: rice, also meaning “meal” (the informal word “meshi” can also be used). Rice has been around since the Jomon period in Japan, 400 years before common era.
goma: sesame seeds.
gyoza: Chinese style dumplings, usually fried. They are made with ground meat and minced vegetables such as chinese cabbage, carrots, and green onions.
Gyu niku: beef
Gyu Tataki. Beef tataki.

hakusai: chinese cabbage.
Harusame: Thin, transparent bean gelatin noodles.
hashi: chopsticks, introduced to Japan by China.
hiijaa sashimi : an Okinawan speciality of raw goat meat.
hiijaa-jiru: okinawan style goat meat in soup.
hijiki: Latin term is Cystophyllum fusiforme. A variety of thread shaped black seaweed, often stewed in a sweet and salty sauce.
hiru-gohan: lunch.
hiya gohan: day old rice, perfect for stir frying because of its less sticky consistency.
hiyashi: cold.
hiyashi-bachi: served chilled in a bowl with ice and cold water.
hiya yakko: blocks of cold tofu, usually topped with chopped green onion and grated ginger, served with soy sauce.
Hocho: General term for knives.
honzen ryori: “main tray cooking”, five side dishes and two or more soups all set on one main tray and several smaller ones. This form of dining is reserved for formal court settings.
horenso: spinach
Horenso No Ohitashi: boiled spinach topped with bonito flakes and served with soy sauce.

ichiban dashi: the first batch of stock made from bonito and seaweed. The second is called “Niban Dashi”.
iidako: small octopus
ika: squid
ikura: salmon roe.
inari-zushi: sushi rice in sweetened and fried tofu pockets.
Ishikari-nabe: Salmon stew with sake
itameru: stir frying or warming food.

Ji-. Prefix: locally made or caught.
jiimamii-dofu : peanut tofu
jyusu: juice

kabayaki: grilled eel on skewers.
Kabocha: Japanese squash/pumpkin introduced to Japan by the Portuguese in the 16th century, most likely from Southeast Asia. It is green skinned with orange-yellow flesh .
kabu: a small, round, white Japanese turnip.
kai: a generic term for shellfish.
kaiseki ryori: elaborate Kyoto style cuisine. The best seasonal ingredients are served in a way to fully appreciate their natural flavour, in several courses.
kaiware: daikon sprouts, refreshingly bitter.
kaki: persimmon
Kamaboko: Fish cake, sometimes coloured pink, light blue, and white.
Kani-kamaboko: Fake crab meat, often in the form of red and white sticks.
kanpyo: strips of dried gourd, used for tying foods. Can also be used as one filling, amongst many others, in sushi rolls, such as futomaki.
Kanimiso: Green contents of a crab’s head.
kanten: gelatin derived from seaweed, used mostly in making desserts.
kappa-maki: sushi rolls with sliced cucumbers.
Karashi: yellow mustard containing horseradish.
Katsu: A cutlet.
Katsudon: Deep-fried pork cutlet served with sauce over rice.
Katsu Karee: Curry sauce poured over deep-fried pork cutlet.
katsuo-bushi: dried bonito flakes, usually for stocks but also as a topping.
ki-no-ko: generic term for mushrooms.
Kikurage: wood ears.
Kinome: Leaves of the Japanese prickly ash.
kissaten: coffee shop.
koohii: coffee.
komatsuna: smooth and light green leaves, similar to a leafy turnip. it is high in calcium.
konbu: Latin term is Laminaria japonica. A type of kelp – used in making dashi (soup stock).
konnyaku: a gelatinous rubbery cake made from “devils-tongue” tuber.
korokke: Japanese style potato croquettes, breaded in Japanese style bread crumbs.
Koyadofu. Freeze-dried tofu.
Kuro goma: Black sesame seeds.
kyuri: Japanese cucumber that is long and thin.

maguro: tuna.
Makisu: Mat made of bamboo strips for making roll sushi.
Manju: Sweet bun or pastry filled with an.
maki: rolled.
Matsutake: Very rare pine mushroom.
meshi: informal word for cooked rice (can also mean “meal.”)
Meshimono: Rice mixed with meat or vegetables.
mioga: pale pink ginger bud with green tips.
mirin: sweetened cooking sake, usually 14 percent alcohol. Originally, it was a cheap alternative to sugar, but these days it is more expensive than sugar.
miso: fermented soybean paste, used for miso soup or sauces and dips.
mitsuba: green leafy plant with three leaves to each stalk.
mizu: water.
mizuna: feathery edged leaf with crisp white stalks eaten in salads with a slight mustard flavour. It is indigenous to Japan.
Mizutaki: Cooked in liquid.
Mochi: Sweet glutinous rice cakes.
Mochigome: Mochi rice.
Mochiko: Sweet glutinous rice flour.
Momen tofu: “Cottony” bean curd.
momiji: “autumn leaf colour” the name of Japanese dried red chili.
momo: peach.
mori-soba: cold buckwheat noodles served on a bamboo screen.
Moyashi: Bean sprouts.
Murasaki: Sushi bar term for soy sauce, but general term for the colour purple.
Mushimono: Steamed foods.
myoga: variety of ginger, highly prized and quite expensive.

nabemono: stew, often served in a hotpot.
Nama-: Prefix: (food) raw, (beer) draught.
Nanami togarashi: Mixed hot spices.
nasu: Japanese eggplant. It is long and thin, with a light to dark purple colour.
natto: sticky fermented soybeans. Very healthy!
Negi: a long green onion, with no bulb at the end. it is also called “naganegi”, meaning long onion.
nigiri-zushi: small molded pieces of vinegared and sweetened rice topped with slices of raw or pickled fish.
nihon-shu: specific word for rice wine (sake).
nimono: foods stewed in sake and soy sauce.
nira: chinese chives with an oniony garlic flavour. Great in stir fries and miso soups.
niru: simmering, often to flavour a broth.
noren: split curtain placed in a door entry. Commonly found in eateries at the entrance of the restaurant or the kitchen.
nori: Latin term is Porphyra laciniata, P. tenera, and P. umbilicalis. Also known as laver. Paper thin sheets of dried seaweed. It is often black or dark purple.
nuka: rice bran (used to pickle vegetables).

oden: fish, fish cake and vegetables simmered in broth. It is sometimes served with a miso dipping sauce.
Ohitsu: A special bowl to keep rice warm.
Ohba: Japanese beefsteak plant.
oishii: delicious.
okonomiyaki: egg “pancakes” containing diced seafood, vegetables, or meat, that are grilled and topped with a savory sauce.
Oshibori: Moistened heated towel.
oshinko: Japanese style pickles.
Oshiwaku: Wooden box with top.
onigiri: rice ball made from plain steamed rice and filled with flakes of salmon, pickled plum, or other ingredients. Usually wrapped with a strip of nori.
osechi ryoori: traditional New Year’s food.

pan: Japanese word for bread. Bread was introduced to Japan by the Portuguese.
panko: Japanese style bread crumbs that are not as fine as Western style bread crumbs. It is a pale yellow before cooking, and also sweetened.
Ponzu: Sauce made with yuzu, soy sauce, and kombu. Served as a dipping sauce.

rakkyo: sweet pickled shallots.
ramen: Chinese style egg noodles served in a chicken, beef or pork broth with assorted toppings. One can base a whole trip to Japan travelling to all the different ramen shops throughout the country, tasting the different types of broth and noodles representing each region.
renkon: lotus root.
ringo: apple.
Robata-Yaki: Fresh ingrediants cooked over a wood fire.

saba: mackerel.
sakana: fish.
Sake or shyake: salmon
o-sake: rice wine (“nihon-shu”), the o is an honorific.
Sakemushi: Steamed over sake.
Sansho: Japanese pepper.
sarada: salad.
sashimi: slices of raw fish, without the rice ball underneath.
sato: sugar.
sato-imo: a small, round, potato like taro root (“country potato”).
satsuma imo: a sweet potato with a skin bright reddish purple, and flesh that is creamy white. When cooked, it tastes and looks like chestnut!
Senbei: Thin, crisp rice crackers.
shabu-shabu: thin slices of beef quick cooked in broth with vegetables. It is often cooked at the table, using a portable stove.
Shamoji: Flat rice-serving spoon.
Shari: A sushi bar term for sushi rice.
Shichimi togarashi: Mixed hot spices.
shiitake: Japan’s best known mushroom.
shio: salt.
Shiratake: Translucent rubbery noodles.
Shiro goma: White sesame seeds.
Shiro miso: White soy bean paste.
Shirumono: Generic Japanese term for soup.
shishitogarashi: small green pepper, literally “Chinese lion pepper”.
shiso: green or purple perilla leaf, usually served with sashim. The purple variety is often pickled.
Shochu: 25-40% spirit made from potatoes or rice.
Shoga: Ginger root.
shoyu: soy sauce.
Shu-mai. Stuffed wontons, served steamed.
shungiku: edible chrysanthemum leaves.
soba: buckwheat noodles. It can be served hot or cold.
Soba-zushi: Sushi made with soba rather than rice.
sooki : pork stewed with bone, an Okinawan speciality.
sookibuni : Okinawan spareribs, usually flavored with salt, lemon, and/or ginger.
somen: very thin, white flour noodles served cold in summer.
Su: rice vinegar
sudachi: a citrus fruit more aromatic than lemon or lime.
Sudare: Floor- or window-sized bamboo mat.
Suimono: Clear soup.
Sunomono: Vinegared foods.
Suribachi: A bowl with corrugations on the inside, used as a mortar.
Surikogi: A wooden pestle shaped like a big cucumber.
Sushimeshi: Rice for preparing sushi.
Geta: Wooden block used at a sushi bar as a plate.

tabemono: food
takenoko: bamboo shoots
tako: octopus.
Takuwan: Pickled daikon.
tamago: egg.
tamago no tokikata: beating eggs without foaming, usually done with chopsticks.
Tamago yaki: Fried egg omelette, often sweetened.
tara: cod.
Tare: Any thick sauce, usually soy-based and slightly sweetened.
Tataki: Grilled on the surface, then chopped.
tekka-maki: sushi rolls with raw tuna.
temaki: “handroll”. a sushi roll in the shape of an ice cream cone, with rice and filling inside.
tempeh: a cake formed from cultured soybeans. It is higher in protein than chicken, but tastes just like it!
tempura: lightly battered and deep fried seafood and vegetables, a method of cooking introduced by the Portuguese.
tendon: rice topped with shrimp tempura, and sometimes other vegetables.
Teriyaki sauce: A sweetened sauce made from soy sauce, mirin, sake, and other ingredients.
tobanjian: chile bean sauce, Chinese style.
tofu: soy bean curd. It comes in different textures and firmness.
Togarashi: Whole dried hot red peppers.
Tonkatsu: Pork cutlet, breaded in Japanese style bread crumbs then deep fried.
tori: chicken meat
Toshi-koshi soba: Japanese custom of eating soba at the end of the year.
tsukemono: Japanese style pickled vegetables.
Tsuyu: soba soup base

Udon: Thick, wide wheat noodles.
ume: Japanese green plum, made into pickles and beverages.
Ume-shiso: Plum paste and shiso leaf mixture, often pickled.
Umeboshi: Small, bitter, pickled Japanese plum.
Una-don or Unagi Don: Grilled eel, served on rice.
Usukuchi shoyu. Light Japanese soy sauce.

wakame: silky seaweed with long fronds.
wan: soup bowl
waribashi: disposable wooden chopsticks.
wasabi: very hot spice often called Japanese horseradish, but is actually mountain hollyhock that grows in streams.

Yakumi: One of several strongly flavored seasonings.
Yaki: Grilled, toasted.
Yakidofu: Broiled or grilled soy bean curd
Yakimono: Broiled foods.
Yakinori: Toasted seaweed.
Yakisoba; fried noodles with assorted sliced vegetables and meat.
Yakitori: Skewer-grilled foods.yaki: grilled.
Yamakaki: Grated mountain potato with chunks of maguro.
yasai: vegetable.
yose-nabe: a stew made from whatever is available, often cooked at the table.
yuderu: blanching or parboiling
yudofu: simmered tofu and kombu seaweed.
yushoku: dinner.
Yuzu: citron, which is a lemon like citrus fruit.

zaru: a colander that is a weaved basket.
zaru-soba: cold buckwheat noodles, often topped with nori (dried seaweed).
zuke: pickled.
zume: stuffed.

Yasai no Kirikata
Cutting Techniques

hana ninjin: Carrot flowers. Cut the carrot into 2 inch pieces and make five small wedges on the outside. Then slice each into half inch slices, crosswise. Trim each petal diagonally then trim the corners to round them.

rangiri: long cylindrical vegetable cut “disorderedly”. cut the first piece on a diagonal, then turn the vegetable a quarter to cut again diagonally. This increases surface area, to speed up the cooking process.

sengiri: cut into thin, linelike strips. julienne.

shiraga neg: “grey hair long onion”, a technique in which the white part of green onions are cut into very thin strips. Cut the white part first into 2 inch lengths, each which are then slit open lengthwise. Remove the inner part and cut the remaining into narrow strips. You can soak these in ice water to curl and crisp them.