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UNIQUE JAPANESE FOOD


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Last update August 21, 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.
  yurine   ゆりね, 百合根
 Pronunciation  [you・ree・neh]
Lily Bulb 

yurine Literally meaning "the root of a lily", yurine is a bulb of an edible lily species. The individual petal-like pieces of the bulb are carefully separated, rinsed, and then boiled with a small amount of salt. The natural mild sweetness and pleasing starchiness makes a nice kinton (sweet tasting mashed vegetable), a typical osechi ryori (New Year's cuisine) item; or an ingredient for dishes such as chawain mushi (steamed egg curd). It has also been used as a medicinal ingredient traditionally.
(Photo: Yurine before preparation for cooking.)

  yuzu   ゆず, 柚子
 Pronunciation  [you・zoo]
Vinegar Orange  or a yuzu citron fruit

Yuzu is a kind of citron (Citrus junos) with its origin in the ancient China. For the distinctive refreshing fragrance and stimulating sour flavor, it's popularly used in suimono or other dishes as an aromatic garnish. Also used to make ponzu by blending the squeezed juice with soy sauce. Pepper mixed with yuzu essence is a popular product, too. The rinds or the entire fruits are often floated in a hot bath for a nice yuzu buro (buro: a hot bath), which is believed to be effective to ward off flu in winter.

  zenmai   ぜんまい, 薇*
 Pronunciation  [zeh・n・my]
Spring Fern Vegetable  or a Japanese flowering (royal) fern

zenmai Zenmai is a kind of flowering fern or osmund, scientifically named "Osmunda japonica". Together with warabi, it's one of spring sansai, whose spiral-headed young leaves are eaten. After removing unfavorable acute bitterness (aku), it's cooked into tsukudani, ohitashi, goma ae (sesami dressed cuisine) or nimono.
(Photo: Nimono of zenmai with abura age.)

  zenzai   ぜんざい, 善哉
 Pronunciation  [zeh・n・zah・ee]
Sweet Bean Soup  or sweet bean soup with rice cakes

Similar to oshiruko, zenzai is a sweet bean paste soup dish, usually served with mochi or shira tama (white dumplings) in it. In Kansai region, it refers to grain an soup with the ingredient, which may be called oshiruko in Kanto, where zenzai may denote mochi (or shira tama) covered with thick an. There is no established definition for these two names. The word zenzai, which also can read yoi kana meaning "well done!", seems to have derived from the salutation Gautama Buddha used in approval of his disciples.

  zoni   ぞうに, 雑煮
 Pronunciation  [zoh・knee]
Jumble Rice Cake Soup  or ingredient-mixed rice cake soup

In Japan, zoni is a must dish item on New Year's Day. The dish is prepared differently, with specific ingredients and seasoning, depending on the region or household. It can be clear soup with round mochi, or shoyu based soup with square-shaped mochi. Some areas or families use miso to season the soup; or drop mochi after baking them, instead of boiling them in the soup. The ingredients cooked in the soup also vary: vegetables such as hakusai (white Japanese cabbages), negi, carrots or radish, meat or fish fillets, kamaboko are popular ingredients.

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