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UNIQUE JAPANESE FOOD


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Last update July 27, 2011




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Glossary Detailed Explanation


食べ物  Food Tabemono [tah-beh-moh-noh]
*: Kanji representation of the food name seldom used in modern day Japan.
 kombu   こんぶ, 昆布
 Pronunciation  [koh・m・boo]
Kelp 

kombu Together with katsuo bushi, it's a typical ingredient for preparing broth for many Japanese dishes including udon, nabe and nimono. Besides the use as broth, kombu is a verstatile comestible. A variety of tsukudani products are available in the market. As an instant ingredient for soup, there is a type named tororo kombu (tororo: viscous): dried shave-off threads of kombu marinated in vinegar. Shio kombu is a salt-sprinkled product, while kobu cha (namely: kelp tea) is a drink prepared by blending hot water with dried kombu powder. Kobu is the contracted name for kombu especially when referring to the food products.
(Photo: Kombu in broth making process.)

 konnyaku   こんにゃく, 蒟蒻*
 Pronunciation  [koh・n・nyah・coo]
Konjac Jelly  or a devil's tongue starch paste

Konnyaku is another unique Japanese food produced by coagulating grated or ground root of the plant named konjac. The products are available in several forms: a slab, threads, or sometimes nuggets. Cooked into dengaku, or used in dishes such as oden and nimono. Containing more than 90% of water, it has no sigfinicant nutrient or taste, but people love its peculiar elastic chewing sensation. Due to its low calorie, it's often processed into healthy, diet food products.

 koya dofu   こうやどうふ, 高野豆腐
 Pronunciation  [koh・yah・doh・who]
Sponge Tofu  or a dried frozen tofu

Koya dofu literally means "tofu of Koya (major sanctuaries of Shingon Buddhism) and believed to have been originally developed at the temple as part of shojin ryori (vegetarian cuisine for Buddhist monks). Also believed that it's a coincidental product obtained from a tofu heedlessly left outdoors in winter. Featuring the sponge-like texture, it absorbs well the rich savor of broth when it is boiled.

 kuzuko   くずこ, 葛粉
 Pronunciation  [coo・zoo・koh]
Kudzu Powder  or kudzu starch powder

kuzumochi It's the refined starch powder extracted from the roots of the plant binomially called "Pueraria lobata". The kuzuko is widely used to make Japanese sweets including kuzu kiri (kuzu jelly cut into strings), kuzu mochi (kuzu cake), and kuzu yu (hot kuzu drink). It's also used as an ingredient of the medicine dubbed kakkon to (kakkon: kudzu root; to: hot water or soup).
(Photo: Kuzu mochi filled with an.)

 manju   まんじゅう, 饅頭
 Pronunciation  [mah・n・jyou]
Mound Cake  or a mound-shaped dough cake

manju Manju is another typical Japanese comfort food, steam-boiled or baked, with an (usually made of beans) wrapped with a thinly spread dough of wheat flour or joshinko (a kind of refined rice flour) into a round, mound shape. A variety of kinds are sold in the market. Ko-haku (red and white) manju is a pair of manju sweets traditionally distributed at celebratory occasions; and kuri manju is one with a chestnut appearance filled with white bean paste and sometimes chestnut pieces.
(Photo: Manju with white an filling.)

 mentaiko   めんたいこ, 明太子
 Pronunciation  [meh・n・tah・ee・koh]
Japanese Red Caviar  or pepper-marinated pollock roe

tarako Mentaiko is the salted roe of Alaska pollock (scientific name: Theragra chalcogramma) marinated in special spicy sauce seasoned with Japanese chili peppers. It's a local specialty product of Fukuoka prefecture in Kyushu, the southern part of Japan. Whether as it is or lightly broiled, it's a nice companion to a bowl of ordinary gohan, ochazuke or onigiri. Blended with mayonnaise, it's often combined with spaghetti or French bread. The word mentaiko sometimes may be used interchangeably with tarako; however, there is a definition that the first specifically denotes the tarako marinated in pepper and other condiments.

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