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UNIQUE JAPANESE FOOD


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Last update August 21, 2011




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食べ物  Food Tabemono [tah-beh-moh-noh]
*: Kanji representation of the food name seldom used in modern day Japan.
 okonomi yaki   おこのみやき, お好み焼き
 Pronunciation  [oh・koh・noh・me・yah・key]
"Bake As You Like"  or ingredient-mixed baked flour batter

okonomiyaki Okonomi yaki is a cuisine prepared in the teppan yaki (iron griddle cooking) style. Slightly different in the details depending on the region, it generally refers to thin flour batter baked together with various ingredients according to your okonomi (taste), such as slices of pork, squid, as well as shrimps, noodles, small-cut cabbages, moyashi or negi. The Hiroshima style features separate cooking of the batter and ingredients (without mixing them), while in Kansai, ingredients are mixed and blended with the batter before baking. After it's cooked, usually eaten with special brown sauces and mayonnaise and kezuri bushi, beni shoga and ao nori (green nori powder) toppings.
(Photo: Okonomi yaki, Kansai style.)

 okoshi   おこし, 興*
 Pronunciation  [oh・koh・she]
Cereal Bar 

okoshi Okoshi is one of good-old-days sweets many old-timers in Japan may feel nostalgic. It's made of glutinous rice and millet grains, steamed, dried and roasted, then, hardened into slabs using mizu ame and sugar. Sesami, peanuts or soybeans are sometimes added as ingredients. Various different products are available depending on the region; Kaminari (thunder) okoshi in Asakusa, Tokyo and iwa (rock) or awa (millet) okoshi in Osaka are especially famous.
(Photo: An awa okoshi product in Osaka.)

 omusubi/onigiri   おむすび, 御結び*/おにぎり, 御握り*
 Pronunciation  [oh・moo・sue・bee/oh・knee・ghee・ree]
Rice Ball 

onigiri It may be the Japanese version of a sandwich you can easily take out and casually pick up while doing something else. Undoubtedly, the most popular bento (carry-out meal) item in Japan. As the names onigiri (grip) and omusubi (joint) indicate, it's parepared by lightly gripping and rounding some amount of rice by joining the palms to form it into a triangle, round or cylindrical shape, using a small amount of water and salt. An ingredient such as umeboshi, tsukudani or tsukemono is often filled inside and a sheet of nori is wrapped around outside.
(Photo: Home-made omusubi served with tsukemono.)

 oshiruko   おしるこ, お汁粉
 Pronunciation  [oh・she・roo・koh]
Bean Jam Soup  or sweet bean paste soup

Oshiruko or simply shiruko is a sweet soup made from adzuki an thinned in water and boiled with sugar. Mochi or shira tama (white ball; rice flour dough ball) is usually added. Similar to zenzai; however, the definition of the difference varies depending on the region or individual.

 pon gashi   ぽんがし, ポン菓子
 Pronunciation  [poh・n・gah・she]
Pop Rice  or sweet puffed rice grains

pongashi Dubbed pon gashi or pon pon gashi for the big sound generated in the process in which the grains are puffed by high pressure (pon representing an explosive sound), it's the rice version of popcorns. Several decades ago, dedicated peddlers with a puffing machine installed at their two-wheeled cart or pickup truck used to travel from town to town. Seasoned sweet and available in the form of separate grains, or a group of grains stuck together using mizu ame into a block.

 ponzu   ぽんず, ポン酢
 Pronunciation  [poh・n・zoo]
Citrus Vinegar Soy Sauce 

ponzu Ponzu generally refers to soy sauce blended with citrus-based vinegar. Many ponzu products available in the market also contain other seasoning substances such as mirin, kombu, and katsuo bushi essenses. Widely used as a salad dressing as well as a dip for various nabe ryori including yu dofu, chiri nabe (fish nabe) and mizu taki (plain water boiling).

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