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Last update July 27, 2011

Other Contents
Sightseeing in Japan
Japanese Era List
Japanese Emperors
Chinese Dynasties
Sightseeing Glossary
Glossary Detailed Explanation

食べ物  Food Tabemono [tah-beh-moh-noh]
*: Kanji representation of the food name seldom used in modern day Japan.
 momiji oroshi   もみじおろし, 紅葉おろし
 Pronunciation  [moh・me・gee・oh・roh・she]
Chili Radish Sauce  or chili mixed grated radish

As the word momiji (red maple leaves) suggests, it's daikon oroshi in the red color generated by Japanese red chilli peppers. Prepared by grating a radish block together with red peppers drilled into it. Tasting spicy and refreshing, it especially goes well with ponzu, and a popular condiment for yudofu: boiled tofu in broth (yu: hot water) or shirako. Momiji oroshi sometimes may refer to carrot mixed grated radish.

 moyashi   もやし, 萌やし
 Pronunciation  [moh・yah・she]
Bean Sprouts 

moyashi The word moyashi means "to cause something sprout", and the food refer to the sprouts of green beans, adzuki beans or soybeans germinated in environments where the sunshine is blocked. Consumed boiled or quickly fried. Often used as a topping for ramen, ingredient for yasai itame (vegetable sauté) or soup.
(Photo: Boiled moyashi in soup.)

 myoga   みょうが, 茗荷
 Pronunciation  [myoh・gah]
Myoga Ginger 

myoga A kind of ginger mainly harvested in summer, with the scientific name of "Zingiber mioga". Used as a condiment for somen noodle dip; ingredient for miso shiru; or simply fried as tempura. Its refreshingly pungent flavor may stimulate summer time appetite. A popular legend says too much consumption of myoga makes people prone to forget things; however, this is not scientifically substantiated in any way.

 nabe (ryori)   なべ(りょうり), 鍋(料理)
 Pronunciation  [nah・beh (・ryoh・ree)]
Pot Cuisine  or table top pot cooking cuisine

nabe Nabe is the generic name for pans, pots, and casseroles; and when people say "Why don't we have a nabe for dinner", they mean nabe ryori (ryori: cuisine). It's a communal way for a group of people sharing boiling-hot foods from the same pot while engaging in cooperative table top cooking. Sometimes a so-called nabe bugyo (who is very particular with the cooking details) may want to be bossy, and it's part of fun, too. The best way to warmly feed yourselves in winter with simple preparation: just pour dashi (soup or broth) into the pot and when it boils, add chopped vegetables, meat, or other foods and wait. A variety of dashi are available in the market. Usually a special nabe cooker/container (shallow pot made of earthware or metal) and a dedicated table-top stove are used. Chiri nabe specifically refers to a nabe with fish flesh and vegetables; while mizu taki (literally, water boiling) denotes a kind using plain water instead of broth.

 naga imo   ながいも, 長芋
 Pronunciation  [nah・gah・ee・moh]
Japanese Yam 

nagaimo Naga imo (literally meaning "a long potato") is a yam of Chinese origin, featuring its viscous fibers as well as light and crisp masticating sensation. Often consumed raw, by grating it into tororo (runny food) for topping; or sliced into tanzaku (single-bite strips) for a simple soy sauce salad. Round-sliced pieces sautéed with butter also can be a nice side dish. Other terms such as yama imo (yama: mountain) or jinen sho (literal meaning: naturally grown yam) basically denote the same thing as naga imo.

 nano hana   なのはな, 菜の花
 Pronunciation  [nah・noh・hah・nah]
Salad Flower  or rape blossoms

nanohana Also dubbed nabana, nano hana is rape blossoms, specially referring to those farmed for eating. Can be boiled and served as ohitashi, blended with soy sauce or mayonnaise, or lightly fried as a sauté; its slightly bitter taste may remind you of the advent of spring. Nano hana zuke (nano hana pickles) or simply hana zuke is a fermented pickle product and specialty of northern Kyoto, with a peculiar sharp odor and fascinating acid-bitter taste.
(Photo: Boiled and sautéed nano hana with bacon.)

 natto   なっとう, 納豆
 Pronunciation  [nah・ttoh]
Fermented Soybeans 

natto With a rather offensive odor and sticky threads generated when picking up the grains, it's one of the most peculiar food products in Japan. It's made from boiled soybeans, which are fermented using the special bacillus. Usually consumed added and mixed well with soy sauce, karashi (Japanese mustard), a raw egg of uzura (Japanese quail) or minutely-sliced negi depending on one's taste. As a rice topping, filling for omelette (natto omuretsu) or gyoza, it can be enjoyed in many ways.
(Photo: Natto mixed with soy sauce and karashi and sprinked with negi.)