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UNIQUE JAPANESE FOOD


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Last update July 27, 2011




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Sightseeing in Japan
Hiragana and Katakana List
Japanese Word List
Japanese Proverbs


食べ物  Food Tabemono [tah-beh-moh-noh]
*: Kanji representation of the food name seldom used in modern day Japan.
 rakkyo   らっきょう, 辣韮*
 Pronunciation  [rah・kkyoh(--)]
Shallot Pickles  or Japanese scallion (shallot) bulb pickles

rakkyo The bulbs of the plant called rakkyo (scientifically named "Allium chinense") pickled in brine, sweet vigenar or soy sauce solution, often added with chili pepper. A variety of rakkyo pickle products are available depending on the region; and especially in rural areas, many farmers prepare home-made rakkyo pickles every year. So-called hana rakkyo (hana: flower), small bulb pickle products, seasoned sweet and sour, are popularly served with kare raisu (curry and rice) as the condiment.
(Photo: A Rakkyo pickles.)

 ramen   らーめん, ラーメン/拉麺*
 Pronunciation  [rah--・meh・n]
Soup Noodles  or Chinese-style soup noodles with toppings

ramen With a wide array of variations, ramen is one of the most-loved people's cuisines in Japan. It generally denotes a soup dish using Chinese-style noodles, with various toppings such as yaki buta (barbecued and seasoned pork slices), menma or shina chiku (fermented bamboo shoots), negi, boiled moyashi and so on. Prepared by combining various broth materials: chicken, pork, beef bones as well as katuo bushi, niboshi and kombu, its soup is very important. Since the soup determines the entire taste of individual dishes, it's usually a secret within the house. Tonkotsu ramen, based on pork bone broth, is a type popular in Kyushu (the southern island of Japan). Shoyu ramen bases its soup on soy sauce; miso ramen, miso; and shio ramen, salt.
(Photo: Shoyu ramen with negi and yuzu oroshi : yuzu mixed daikon oroshi.)

 renkon   れんこん, 蓮根
 Pronunciation  [reh・n・koh・n]
Lotus Root 

Renkon or lotus roots are popularly eaten boiled, fried, and sautéed. For its porous feature, the roots are considered lucky food that lets you see things ahead through pores, and a regular food item for osechi ryori (New Year's cuisines). Karashi renkon is a unique local product of Kumamoto prefecture with the pores filled with mustard-mixed miso. Renkon manju, a mound-shaped cake made from grated renkon and renkon no hasami age (renkon sandwich fries) are popular items at izakaya (Japanese pub restaurants). The roots are also commonly used for nimono, tempura, su renkon (vinegar-boiled renkon) or kimpira.

 sake   さけ, 酒
 Pronunciation  [sah・keh]
Japanese Rice Wine 

sake An alcoholic beverage made from steamed rice by adding koji (cereal bran germinated with fermenting microbes) for brewing. Individual regions in Japan have their own specialty sake or ji zake (local sake products) with distinctive characteristics. To name a few, Hyogo, Kyoto, Niigata, Hiroshima and Nagano are representative sake producing prefectures. Though the word sake is well-known in the world denoting Japanese rice wine, it's less frequently used in this context in Japan today. It rather indicates alcoholic drinks in general. To differentiate this kind of beverage, the term Nihon shu is commonly used.

 sake kasu   さけかす, 酒粕
 Pronunciation  [sah・keh・kah・sue]
Sake Soup Paste  or Japanese rice wine lees

sakekasu Sake kasu (kasu: lees) is the soft, whitish substance remaining after sake is extracted from moromi (a mash of fermented grains mixed with brewed liquor). Used as a material for vinegar, amazake (rice fermented sweet drink), and an agent for kasu zuke (sake kasu pickles). In winter, steaming-hot kasu jiru (sake kasu soup) is a cuisine many people crave for.

 sakura mochi   さくらもち, 桜餅
 Pronunciation  [sah・coo・rah・moh・chee]
Cherry Blossom Rice Cake  or a rice cake wrapped in a cherry blossom leaf

sakuramochi A spring wagashi (Japanese sweets) item in the pink color with an filling and wrapped by a salt-pickled cherry blossom leaf. There are two types of sakura mochi: Kansai (or Domyoji) style in a round, ball-like shape made from glutinous rice; and two-folded or rolled Kanto (or Chomeiji) type using wheat-rice flour mix. The leaf around the mochi is edible, which creates a sophisticated salty-sweet harmony on the palate.
(Photo: Sakura mochi in Kansai region.)

 sansai   さんさい, 山菜
 Pronunciation  [sah・n・sah・ee]
Mountain Vegetables  or edible wild plants

Sansai, literally meaning "mountain vegetables", is the generic term for edible wild plants found in fields and mountains. Warabi, zenmai, fuki no to, and tara no me are all considered sansai. Popularly consumed in tempura, nimono or tsukudani.

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