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Last update April 5, 2011

Other Contents
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.
 an   あん, 餡
 Pronunciation  [ah・n]
Bean Jam  or sweet bean paste

an Also called anko, it's usually made from beans boiled with sugar and used to fill bread (an-pan), manju or spread around ohagi or bota mochi. There are two kinds of an depending on the preparation process. Tsubu-an is a lightly mashed type without completely crushing tsubu (grains) of beans, while koshi-an is completely mashed and filtered for more creamy texture. Azuki is the most popular ingredient for an; however, white beans, sweet potatoes, chestnuts and lily bulbs are also used. White bean an is called shiro-an (white an) in comparison with azuki an. The word an also refers to thick and runny mixture of starch powder and water, often used in an kake sauce or soup (kake: to cover; sprinkle or pour).
(Photo: An filled in a bun.)

 abura age/aburage   あぶら(あ)げ, 油揚げ
 Pronunciation  [ah・boo・rah・(ah・) geh]
Fried Tofu  or a fried bean curd

aburaage Abura age literally means "to fry with oil" (fry: ageru; oil: abura), and it refers to a fried slice of tofu. Due to its brownish yellow color, a folklore says that it's a favorite food of foxes (often compared as a guardian deity messenger) and sometimes offered at shrines. Used as an ingredient in many dishes. Udon dish with abura age is called kitsune (fox) udon.

 arare   あられ, 霰*
 Pronunciation  [ah・rah・reh]
Finger Rice Crackers  or finger-sized rice crackers

an Made from a large lump of mochi seasoned and flavored with salt, soy sauce or sugar (sometimes spiked with food coloring). After freshly-made mochi is shaped into a large square mass and dried for several days, it is cut into finger-sized or small cubic pieces, which are then fried or roasted for eating. In rural areas, people used to make a home-made arare stock for winter snack.
(Photo: Arare product sold in the market.)

 atsu age   あつあげ, 厚揚げ
 Pronunciation  [ah・two・ah・ghe]
Half-fried Tofu  or a furface-fried bean curd

atsuage Atsu age is a kind of tofu with its surfaces lightly fried, and may be roughly defined as a hybrid between abura age and tofu. The food is often boiled with vegetables and also a popular item for oden. Nama age (nama: raw or half-done) is another name for this food.
(Photo: Cooked atsu age as nimono.)

 azuki   あずき, 小豆
 Pronunciation  [ah・zoo・key]
Japanese Red Beans  or adzuki beans

Scientifically named "Vigna angularis", the azuki is a plant originated in China, and produces reddish brown beans. Together with daizu (soybeans), the beans have been consumed in Japan since the ancient times. Mostly cooked into an (indispensable ingredient for traditional Japanese sweets), sekihan and zenzai.

 beni shoga   べにしょうが, 紅生姜
 Pronunciation  [beh・knee・show・gah]
Red Ginger Pickles  or pickled red gingers

benishoga Beni shoga is ginger (shoga) roots pickled in vinegar and colored in red (beni) and usually cut into slices or threads to be served. Tasting mellowly spicy, it's a popular condiment for Japanese food and dishes including sushi, ramen, tako yaki, yaki soba and okonomi yaki.
(Photo: Beni shoga served with yaki soba.)