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Morimoto The New Art of Japanese Cooking - Glossary

[Do Not Use]DK Publishing logo[Do Not Use]DK Publishing 2/07/2014 DKBooks


Asari clams.

Known in the United States as Manila clams, these small, sea-sweet shellfish are not always easy to get. If you can’t find them, substitute littlenecks or New Zealand cockles.


Also called sweetfish, this small river fish is often rubbed with salt and grilled. Available frozen in some Asian specialty stores.


Peppery purplish sprouts, also called water pepper. Typically used as a garnish. Available at some Asian specialty stores.


Refers to a mature yellowtail, a popular fish more familiar to many diners in its younger form (hamachi). Winter is the peak season for yellowtail, when its pale, off-white flesh is lusciously fatty. It can be served as sushi, sashimi, or cooked.


Sweet rice pudding. Sold in jars in Chinese groceries.


This pleasingly porridge-like gruel made from rice and water is popular throughout Asia. Typically served for breakfast, it can be flavored with everything from dried scallops to peanuts.


A large mild, slightly sweet white radish, it is served pickled alongside rice, raw and shredded alongside sashimi, and grated into a fine, moist paste to be mixed into sauces and soups. Available fresh and pickled in Asian specialty stores and some major supermarkets.


A staple Japanese stock typically made from katsuobushi (cured and dried bonito) and kombu (a type of kelp). Unlike French stock, it takes only about 10 minutes to prepare. It is used in everything from soups to stews to sauces. Available powdered in Asian specialty stores, but homemade is nearly as easy to make and has a superior flavor.

Five-spice powder.

A mixture of five or more spices than can include ground cinnamon, cloves, fennel seed, star anise, ginger, and Sichuan peppercorns. It is used in marinades and sauces. Available in most supermarkets. Because of its popularity, even McCormick now makes it.


Blowfish in English, a fish whose poisonous organs are removed prior to serving. It is often served in thin slices of sashimi (usuzukuri). Specialty restaurants in Japan create entire meals that consist of blowfish dishes. Only chefs who have gone through rigorous training and obtained a special license can butcher the fish. It is considered a delicacy, and thus is very expensive.


Ginko nuts are the fall fruits of the gingko tree. Available fresh in their shells as well as canned in Asian specialty stores.


Burdock in English, this long, thin root vegetable is grown primarily in Japan. Available fresh in Asian specialty stores.


A Japanese-style beef stew with onions and savory stock.

Japanese curry.

Sold in both semisolid and powder form, this ready-to-use spice mixture is used to make Japanese-style curry. Available in Asian specialty stores.


Japanese sugar in English, this contains inverted sugar. For the recipes in this guide, ordinary white cane sugar can be used.


A citrus fruit with deep-green skin and a tart flavor used to add an acidic note to Japanese sauces and dishes. The juice is available bottled or frozen in some Asian specialty stores. Key lime is the closest substitute.


Pork belly, which is fresh uncured, unsmoked bacon, braised until it is meltingly tender.


This sweet sun-dried gourd is commonly simmered in a mixture of soy sauce, sake, and sugar and used as a filling for sushi rolls.


Curry pan, or “curry bread” is a snack food found in Japanese bakeries that consists of panko-encrusted fried dough that has been filled with curried beef.


Bonito in English, this member of the mackerel family has rich, dark flesh. It is often served as sashimi and tataki, though after it has been cured and dried, it’s an essential ingredient for making dashi, the essential Japanese stock.


The young, peppery, fernlike leaves of the prickly ash plant that form in the spring. Typically used as a garnish. Available at some Asian specialty stores.


A fiery, red paste made from fermented soybeans, red chiles, and glutinous-rice flour, popular in Korea. Available in Asian specialty stores.


Known as kelp in English, this sea vegetable is harvested from Japan’s cold waters, mostly near Hokkaido, then dried and used to make dashi stock. It comes in various types and levels of quality. Buy the best you can find from Asian specialty stores.


A yam cake made from the same starchy, gelatinous tuber (konnyaku) as shirataki, this bland, chewy block is cut into large cubes and used in nimono, or simmered dishes. Available in Asian specialty stores.


Chinese red raisins are also called goji berries or wolfberries. These nutritious fruits are eaten dry or soaked and used in sauces. Available in Asian specialty stores.

Kumamoto oysters.

Named for Kumamoto prefecture in Japan, these small oysters are now cultivated on the West Coast of the United States. They have a mildly sweet, lightly briny flavor and a creamy texture.


A black peppercorn grown in Indonesia, that is valued for its flavor and pungency. Available at specialty spice stores and some Asian grocers.

Light-colored soy sauce.

Like the more common dark kind, it is also a sauce made from fermented soybeans and wheat. This version is slightly saltier, lighter in color, and not as thick. Available at Asian specialty stores and some supermarkets.


A grape-size fruit with brown skin and sweet, translucent flesh. Available in Asian specialty stores.

Lotus leaf.

The large leaves of the lotus, a water plant, is sold dried. The fan-shaped, green-brown leaves are often used as wrappers for ingredients that are then steamed or grilled. They impart a pleasantly musky, earthy flavor. Available at Asian specialty stores.


Literally “pine mushroom” in English, these fungi grow beneath pine trees in the fall. Served simply grilled, or steamed in a pot with broth, they are prized for their woodsy aroma and can be very expensive.


These tender, thin young chives have a subtle peppery flavor, much like wild chives. Available fresh in some Asian specialty stores.


Fortified wine made from glutinous rice and used solely for cooking. Available in most Asian specialty stores.


Fermented soybean paste that comes in three basic varieties: miso made just from soybeans (mamemiso), miso made from barley and soybeans (mugimiso), and miso made from rice and soybeans (komemiso); the latter is the most common. Akamiso, also called red or brown miso, refers to a salty type of mugimiso or komemiso that has been fermented for about a year. Shiromiso, or white miso, is fermented for much less time and tastes much sweeter. An especially sweet type of shiromiso called saikyo miso is made in Kyoto, Japan. Most of these varieties are available at Asian specialty stores and some health food stores.


An herb that resembles cilantro in appearance, and a combination of parsley, celery, and chervil in taste, it is often used as a garnish and in soups. Available fresh in Asian specialty stores.


A sweet clear jelly made from millet. Sold in Japanese specialty stores. Light corn syrup can be used as a substitute.

Monkfish liver.

Ankimo in Japanese, monkfish liver is typically steamed and served with ponzu sauce and scallions. It tastes rich, with a whiff of both foie gras and the sea. Available from some seafood purveyors.


Also called jujubes, Chinese dates are brown, olive-size, slightly sweet fruit, sold fresh and dried in Asian specialty stores.


An aquatic plant that’s harvested, minced to a paste, formed into paperlike sheets, and dried. Most Americans are familiar with nori as the blackish green wrapper for sushi rolls. It is also used in soups and shredded and served atop rice. Quality and price varies widely. Available in Asian specialty stores.


An edible transparent sheet made from water mixed with either rice flour or the pith of the stems from the rice-paper plant.


Roughly translated as “chef’s choice,” this refers to a meal typically composed of small dishes chosen by the chef.


Coarse bread crumbs favored in Japan to coat fried foods because they remain crisp even as they cool. Available in most Asian specialty stores and some supermarkets.


A tart dipping sauce typically made from rice vinegar, soy sauce, dashi, and citrus juice (yuzu or sudachi). Its bright flavor enlivens sashimi and grilled meats. Although bottled versions are available in Asian specialty stores, it pays to make your own.

Red bean paste.

An in Japanese, this is made from sugar and azuki beans and used as a filling for confections. Available in Asian specialty stores.


Often misleadingly called “rice wine,” this alcoholic beverage is brewed from water and rice by a process similar to beer making. While wine is categorized according to the grapes with which it is made, sake is classified by the degree to which the rice used is polished. Junmai refers to sake made from rice that has been polished until about 70% of each grain remains; ginjo refers to sake made from rice polished until no more than 60% of each grain remains; and dai ginjo refers to that made from rice polished until about 50% of each grain remains. Available at shops devoted to sake and at many wine shops and Asian specialty stores.

Sansho pepper.

The seedpod of the prickly ash tree, it is usually served ground, dusted on top of finished foods to add its unique flavor, or as part of the seven-spice blend called shichimi togarashi, which is used to spice everything from yakitori (grilled chicken skewers) to grilled eel.


Long thin, transparent noodles made from the starchy, gelatinous tuber called konnyaku. They are either boiled or dry-roasted in a pan before using to make stir-fries, soups, and even desserts. Available fresh and canned in Asian specialty stores.


From the perilla or beefsteak plant, this highly aromatic jagged-edge green leaf tastes like a cross between mint and basil. It is most often used raw to perfume everything from salads to sushi rolls. Available fresh at Asian specialty stores.


Leaf buds of the shiso plant, this hard-to-find ingredient is used as a garnish and occasionally sold fresh in Asian specialty stores.

Sichuan peppercorn.

Not actually a peppercorn, but the husk of the seed from a plant that’s a member of the citrus family. Used often in China’s Sichuan province, it is famous for producing a pleasant numbing, burning sensation. Available in Asian specialty stores and specialty spice shops.

Soy sauce.

There are a number of different soy sauces used for different effects in Japanese cooking. The most common soy sauce is ordinary shoyu, a soy sauce made from fermented soybeans and wheat. (Not to be confused with light-colored soy sauce or white soy sauce, both of which I use in some recipes; see Soy Sauce). Shoyu varies widely in quality, from the mass-produced type to artisanal sauces that are aged for more than 30 years.


Closely related to the yuzu, this small citrus fruit is used when it’s green and unripe for its zest and tart juice. Available fresh at some Asian specialty stores, though as with yuzu and kabosu, it is easier to find the fruit’s juice bottled or frozen. Key lime would be the closest substitute.

Sweet rice.

Also called glutinous rice, this is steamed, pounded into a paste, and used to make mochi, a sticky rice cake. Available in Asian specialty stores.


A paste made from ground seafood, often formed into cakes or used in place of crab in California rolls. Available in Asian specialty stores.


The young, tender shoots of the bamboo tree. They are available fresh in some Asian specialty stores. Canned bamboo shoots can be substituted, though the flavor will not be the same.


A popular Osaka street snack often eaten with a toothpick, it comprises octopus-filled balls of batter topped with a thick, tangy sauce and flakes of dried bonito.


A slightly darker and thicker soy sauce made without wheat. Available in most supermarkets.


Chinese chile-bean paste. Available in Asian specialty stores.

Tonkatsu sauce.

A slightly sweet, tangy Worcestershire-based sauce typically served with fried, breaded pork cutlet. Available in Asian specialty stores and many supersmarkets.


Pungent fermented tofu, from Okinawa. Crumbled feta cheese would be the best substitute for this hard-to-find delicacy.

Udon noodles.

Thick, white noodles made from a mixture of water and wheat flour. Inaniwa udon are a thinner variety, used in some dishes. Sold fresh and dried, they are available in Asian specialty stores.


Often called sea urchin, uni is actually what you find when you crack one open—both the roe and the sweet, briny custardlike gonads. It is most often served raw as sushi and sashimi. Available fresh, even occasionally live, at specialty seafood purveyors and by mail order.


A method of cutting firm-fleshed fish, such as fluke and fugu, into very thin slices. Often served with ponzu sauce for dipping.


Literally “Japanese cattle,” this term refers to the beef imported from Japan. In America, Wagyu cattle are crossbred with domestic cattle and sold as “domestic Wagyu.” Both the Japanese and U.S. varieties are often sold as “Kobe beef,” but genuine Kobe beef is only raised in the Kobe region of Japan. Available at specialty butcher shops.


A wild plant that grows in shallows streams in the mountains of Japan and is now cultivated in the United States. The knobby green rhizome has a horseradishlike bite. It is often ground to a paste and served with sushi and sashimi. Wasabi leaves are sometimes pickled or fried as tempura. Though it is best when grated from the fresh rhizome, it is often sold as a premade paste. High-quality pastes are available, but many substitute mustard powder for real wasabi. It is available fresh in some Asian specialty stores; wasabi paste is available in many major supermarkets.


Japanese mountain potato in English, this yam is often grated, which produces a slightly gooey texture. It is sometimes used as a dip for raw tuna. Available in Asian specialty stores.


Literally “mountain peach,” a sweet-tart red fruit, sometimes died dark green, the size of a large olive. Used as a garnish, in desserts, and to make liquor. Available fresh in some Asian specialty stores.


This sour powder is made from Japanese red shiso leaves and is available at some Asian specialty stores.


A small, tart citrus fruit that tastes like a cross between a lemon, a lime, and an orange. It is used both for its zest and its juice. Some Asian specialty stores carry the fresh fruit, but you’ll more commonly find its juice in bottles or frozen and its rind dried. Substitute lemon in a pinch.


The immature, tightly curled tips of the royal fern. Available jarred at some Asian specialty stores. Fiddlehead ferns make a fine substitute.

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