Know Your Japanese Condiments!

  • FOOD
  • Food in Japan is said to be some of the best. The food here comes in all forms and is prepared and cooked in many ways. But for those of you who are not native to the land of the rising sun, how familiar are you with your Japanese condiments?

    Japanese condiments are used in both home cooking and in food establishments. Many of you will encounter these items during your rounds in the grocery store. If you have a knack for cooking, then try these condiments out with your dishes!

    Wasabi (わさび)

    Also known as Japanese horseradish, everyone knows what wasabi is. The most familiar foods that we associate it with are sushi and sashimi. Wasabi in Japan can be bought fresh and then ground up or it can be found in easy to use tubes or as a powder.

    These last two types are more popular in supermarkets. Wasabi is extremely pungent so be careful when you use it!

    Karashi (からし)

    Karashi is the Japanese version of mustard. Karashi is used to enhance the taste of foods like oden and hiyashi chuuka. Karashi, unlike wasabi, will actually leave a spicy sensation in your mouth.

    There is also a dish in Kumamoto known as karashi renkon where the gaps of lotus root (renkon) are filled with this spicy condiment!

    Rayu (ラー油)

    Rayu is Japan’s chili oil. This condiment can be found in every Ramen shop as it is used to flavor ramen and gyoza. But be careful when adding this because the spiciness may overpower the food’s flavor!

    Shoyu (醤油)

    Otherwise known as soy sauce, shoyu is a staple in every Japanese household. Kikkoman, a prominent maker of soy sauce in Japan, is quite popular not only within the country but also abroad! Shoyu is added to tofu, yakisoba, grilled fish dishes and many more. Shoyu is also used in order to create other flavorful sauces for Japanese dishes!

    Tsuyu (つゆ)

    This condiment is also called mentsuyu or dipping sauce. Tsuyu is used in Japan to dip noodle foods like somen, soba, udon and many more. When using tsuyu as a dipping sauce, don’t forget to add water as tsuyu tastes very salty! You may be confused by tsuyu that is being sold in the supermarket because of its variants, but you can use any of them as your dipping sauce.

    There are so many condiments in Japan that we can’t put them all in one post. But as you’ve read above, these are some of the ones you’ll surely encounter when you’re in Japan!

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