Unique ingredients in Japanese cooking

 These days, I find more and more Japanese food/culture is introduced to the states through TV dramas such as flash forward,Heroes, or Food related TV shows, anime comic books/DVD/Movies.. and if you walk down the aisle of international foods at local grocery store, often times, you find at least one ingredients unique to Japanese cooking such as Panko bread crumbs, Wasabi etc.

 In this entry, I like to introduce more unique ingredients unique to Japanese cooking.

 *Wakame (seaweed)

Wakame is often used in Miso soup, clear broth soup called Osui mono, or vinegary salad such as cucumber salad (you can find recipe in previous entry titled Japanese Diet Part II . ). In Japan,you get it dried wakame in bag, and after being washed under water to take salt off off the wakame, and soaked to soften up, the amount of wakame gets as much as three times more or so. Wakame gets rehydrated and expand in size. Depending on brand of products, expanding size is differ. You should be able to locate the information on how much the wakame expand on food package’s cooking instruction area.

 * Tofu

Tofu is probably well known as ingredients in Asian cooking. Tofu is the products made by curdling the soy milk. Tofu is very bland taste, and if you cook the Tofu,you need strong flavor in dish.

Easiest dish using Tofu will be Hiya Yakko (cold Tofu with drizzled soy sauce) or skillet Tofu with soy sauce or yu doufu (simmered Tofu dipped in soy sauce to eat). My mother makes nice Tofu burger with punch of ginger flavor. When I came to the states, I wrote down the recipe and brought with me.

*** Tofu burger with Udon ***

1. Chop ginger and green onion fine and put to bowl

2. Wrap 1 Tofu with paper towel, and put on microwavable plate, and microwave 1 minutes to get it dry a little

3. Cool Tufu and wrap it with cheese cloth and squeeze it hard to get water out from Tofu, put it into bowl with ground chicken 150 g (5-6 ounces)

4. Put half of raw egg (crack an egg in measuring cup and pour half of the amount to the bowl)

5. Katakuriko (Potato starch) 2 tsp,table salt 2tsp, soy sauce 1/2 tsp ,sake 1 tbs to bowl

6. mix gently and make patties and cook on skillet.

7. Prepare big pan and add chicken bullion (I usually use Japanese consommé cube but, you could use bullion cube. Try add one at a time to adjust taste) ,add 400ml water, add table salt 1/4tsp,sake 2tbs,soy sauce 2tbs,table sugar 2tbs and dissolve in the water

8.Add rough chopped Nappa cabbage and onion, leek and add Udon and cook half way and add burger to the big pan and when heated through, Tofu burger with Udon is ready to serve

This is good alternative to usual beef burger.

** Natto

This is my father’s favorite and he used to have it every morning over hot rice with added soy sauce. Natto is made from fermented soy bean with Natto kin (natto fungus). It has unique smell, and sticky.
You can see picture of Natto at wikipedia site here.


This is something I had hard time letting grocery store manager understand what I am looking for and never succeeded to find one at local store although I could find one easily at Asian store. Konnyaku is hard to explain but it is kind of like hard Jelly consistency and often you can find them in dishes like sukiyaki, Oden(kind of like stew made from kelp broth and soy sauce and the way we eat is like fondue if you will. We dip food to sweet miso dipping sauce to eat Oden dish) My dictionary says konnyakyu is deviled tongue in English. I could find page on wikipedia explained about konnyaku here.

** chikuwa

This is also hard to find at local grocery store but Asian store carry it. It is white fish paste made it look like tube and steamed. It is made from fish but it does not stink like fish to my nose. You can see picture here at wikipedia.

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Dec 08, 2009 | 0 | Uncategorized

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