4Japan.Info - Cooking Japanese Style

Japanese Food Glossary

Click the camera image to see a picture of the item corresponding to row description.

Name Kanji/Hiragana Description
Aemonoあえ物 / あえものVegetables or meats mixed with a ground sesame seed dressing.
Agemono揚げ物 / あげものFried foods, divided into the following:
  1. suage - fried without a coating of flour/batter.
  2. karaage - fried in a coating of flour or arrowroot starch.
  3. tatsuage - food marinated in a mixture of sake, soy sauce and sugar that is fried in a coating of arrowroot starch.
  4. tempura - fried in a coating of batter.
Basashi馬刺し / ばさしHorse sashimi.
ButaブタPork.
Chawanmushi茶碗蒸し / ちゃわんむしSteamed egg custard with shrimp, shiitake, chicken, ginnan, and topped with a vegetable called mitsuba.  Click for Chawanmushi Recipe.
Dashi出し / だしFish stock for cooking, generally made from kombu (a type of sea weed) and katsuobushi (dried bonito fish shavings.)
Donburi丼 / どんぶりThis is a traditional lunch dish referring to the ceramic bowl and matching lid the contents of this dish are served in.  The individual names of each donburi dish depends on the contents.  Here is a list of the different donburi dishes:
  1. gyūdon (牛丼 / ぎゅうどん) - rice with a beef topping.
  2. yakitori donburi (焼き鳥丼 / やきとりどんぶり) - rice with a chicken topping.
  3. tendon (天丼 / てんどん) - rice with a tempura topping.
  4. unadon (鰻丼 / うなどん) - rice with an unagi topping.
  5. katsudon (カツ丼 / かつどん) - rice with a pork topping.
  6. oyako donburi (親子丼 / おやこどんぶり) - rice with a chicken and fried egg topping.
Gyu Tataki牛叩き / ぎゅうたたきBeef cooked on the outside and rare on the inside.
Jyūbako重箱 / じゅうばこA box lunch served in a lacquered tray.
Kabayaki蒲焼き / かばやきA fish that has been de-boned and grilled.  To maintain one's health, a long established tradition prescribes unagi kabayaki be eaten on ushi no hi, which is the Day of the Ox during the mid-summer season.
KatsuカツA breaded cutlet.
Katsudonカツ丼 / かつどんDeep-fried pork cutlet served with sauce over rice.
Karei katsuカレイカツCurry sauce poured over deep-fried pork cutlet.
Meshimono召物 / めしものRice mixed with meat or vegetables.
Mizutaki水炊き / みずたきRefers to food cooked in water.
Mochi餅 / もちSweet glutinous rice cakes.
Mochigome糯米 / もちごめMochi rice.
Mochiko糯粉 / もちこSweet glutinous rice flour.
Mushimono蒸し物 / むしものSteamed foods.  There are two types: shiomushi, which are foods sprinkled with salt then steamed and sakamushi, which are foods sprinkled with salt and sake then steamed.
Nabemono鍋物 / なべものMeals cooked in a clay pot.
Nama生 / なまPrefix for raw food and draught beer.
Nimono煮物 / にものSimmered or boiled foods.  Examples include nitsuke, fish/seafood simmered in a mixture of sake, soy sauce, mirin and sugar.
Ponzuポン酢 / ポンすSauce made with Japanese citron.
Robatayaki炉端焼き / ろばたやきFresh ingrediants cooked over a wood fire.
Sakamushi酒蒸し / さかむしSteamed over sake.
Shabu ShabuシャブシャブShabu Shabu is cooked in a similar way as a fondue, and as such, lends itself to a party atmosphere.  The word shabu-shabu refers to the sound the meat used in this dish makes when dipped into the boiling water.  A special pot is used to cook the food used in making Shabu Shabu.  Each person is given a plate of beef or pork, which is dipped into the boiling water .   Vegetables are generally added to the pot after the meat is consumed.
Shirumono汁物 / しるものCommon term for soup divided into two types: sumashijiru (clear soup) and misoshiru (soup made from miso paste.)
ShumaiシュウマイStuffed wontons, served steamed or deep-fried.  Origin of food is China.
Su酢 / すRice vinegar.
Sukiyaki鋤焼き / すきやきBeef fried in a with a soy based sauce.
Sunomono酢の物 / すのものVinegared foods.
Tamago卵 / たまごEgg.
Tamagoyaki卵焼き / たまごやきFried egg.
Teriyaki sauce照り焼き / てりやきA sweetened soy sauce.
Tare滴れ / たれTerm used to generically identify sauces.
Tataki叩き / たたきFinely chopped.
Tempura天ぷら / てんぷらBattered and deep-fried seafood or vegetables.
TonkatsuトンカツBreaded and fried pork cutlet.
Tori鳥 / とりChicken.
Tsuke付け / つけA rice soup differentiated by the ingredients.  Different types of zuke include:
  1. ochazuke, (お茶付け / おちゃつけ), which adds green tea as the soup base.
  2. tempurazuke, which includes tempura battered items.
Ume shiso梅紫蘇 / うめしそPlum paste and shiso leaf mixture.
Unadon鰻丼 / うなどんUnagi, which is eel, grilled and placed on a bed of rice.  Unadon is served in a clay dish.  A similar dish called unajyu contains the same contents, but is placed in a wooden bowl.
Usukuchi shoyu薄口 / うすくちLight Japanese soy sauce.
Yakumi薬味 / やくみOne of several strongly flavored seasonings.
Yakimono焼き物 / やきものFoods grilled on a mesh wire net, skewered like "shish kabob" over an open fire or cooked in a skillet.  There are different types of yakimono: shioyaki, which involves sprinkling salt over the food prior to cooking, tsukeyaki, which involves marinating the food in a soy sauce and sake or soy sauce and mirin mixture called awase jōyu prior to cooking, teriyaki, which is a stronger flavored tsukeyaki, misozukeyaki, which involves marinating the food in a miso and sake or miso and mirin mixture.
Yakinori焼き海苔 / やきのりToasted seaweed.
Yakitori焼き鳥 / やきとりGrilled chicken shish kabob.
Yosenabe寄せ鍋 / よせなべA fish, seafood and vegetable soup made in a clay pot.
Horensō No Ohitashiホウレン草のお浸し / ほうれんそうのおひたしSpinach dip.  The word for spinach is horensō and the verb to dip is hitasu.


Soy Beans and Seaweed
Name Kanji/Hiragana Description
Aburage油揚げ / あぶらげPuffy, brown fried tofu.
Agedashi dōfu上げだし豆腐 / あげだしどうふFlour encrusted fried tōfu.
Aka miso赤味噌 / あかみそRed soy bean paste.
An按 / あんSweetened puree of cooked red beans.
Atsuage厚揚げ / あつあげDeep fried tofu cutlet.
Azuki小豆 / あずきSmall red beans used to make an.
GanmodokiがんもどきTofu patties.
HijikiひじきA type of seaweed.
Kinugoshi tōfu豆腐 / とうふ"Silky" bean curd.
Konbu昆布 / こんぶA type of seaweed.
Kōyadōfu高野豆腐 / こうやどうふFreeze-dried tofu.
MekabuめかぶA seaweed.
Miso味噌 / みそSoy bean paste.  There are several varieties of miso:
  1. A yellow brown colored miso made from barley and soy beans originating in the Shinshū region (a mountainous area known as the Japanese Alps.
  2. A salty, reddish colored miso made from rice and soy beans originating in the Tohoku region (NorthEast of Tōkyo.)
  3. A finely ground white colored miso made from rice and soy beans (the higher concentration of rice lends to the lighter color over the other miso types) originating in Kyotō.
  4. A dark chocolate colored miso called Hatchō miso made only from soy beans and salt and fermented for 2 years.
Momen tōfu木綿豆腐 / もめんとうふ"Cottony" bean curd.
MoyashiもやしBean sprout.
MozukuもずくMozuku is a type of seaweed .  It's generally packed in small containers enough for 1 or 2 servings .
Natto納豆 / なっとうFermented soy bean.
Nori海苔 / のりA seaweed that is pressed into a paper thin shape.  The first account of nori was made in 689.  Commercial harvesting began around 1450.  This seaweed, purplish in color grows on rocks and other objects in bay areas.  Systematic farming commenced in the mid 1800's, where nets were used to increase the surface area for the nori to attach.  Processing commences as soon as the nori is taken from the water, being poured into a mold that is passed through a drying oven.  Like other desirable products, nori is inspected and graded based on it's appearance, color, luster and thickness.
Reference:  Mangajin, 3/97, pg.62.
Shiro miso白味噌 / しろみそWhite soy bean paste.
Tōfu豆腐 / とうふSoybean curd.
WakameわかめA type of seaweed, that is cultivated by submerging nets just below the surface of the ocean.  Wakame means "young sprouts" and is indicative of the harvest that occurs before the seaweed grows to long.  The harvest occurs from the end of January to the end of April.  The harvested seaweed is dried after being rinsed and briefly dipped into boiling water to turn it's color from brown to green.
YamakakiやまかきGrated mountain potato with chunks of maguro.
Yakidofu焼き豆腐 / やきどうふBroiled or grilled soy bean curd.


The word nabe refers to a stewing or cooking pot and the foods cooked in this pot are called nabemono (鍋物 /  なべもの).  In the past, this type of dish was prepared and cooked around the irori (囲炉裏 /  いろり), which is a sunken lounge.

Soups and Nabemono
Name Kanji/Hiragana Description
Ankonabe餡子鍋 / あんこなべMonkfish stew.
Chankonabeちゃんこ鍋 / ちゃんこなべRefers to the type of nabe eaten by sumo wrestlers.
Donabe土鍋 / どなべRefers to earthenware pots.
Fugu-chiri河豚散 / ふぐちりBlowfish soup.
Ishikari-nabe石狩鍋 / いしかりなべSalmon stew with sake.
Misoshiru味噌汁 / みそしるSoup made with miso paste.
Nanbutetsunabe南部鉄鍋 /  なんぶてつなべRefers to cast iron pots.  This type of nabe is generally found in the tohoku region of Japan.
NishimeVegetables stewed in soy sauce.
Osuimono御吸物 / おすいものClear soup .  Clear soups contain wakame, as a basic ingredient.
Tirinabeちり鍋 / ちりなべRefers to a fish stew.
Yudōfu湯豆腐 / ゆどうふRefers to a simmered tofu stew.
Yosenabe寄せ鍋 / よせなべRefers to a combination of ingredients cooked at the same time (e.g. chicken, tofu, vegetables).


Yasai - Vegetables
Name Kanji/Hiragana Description
Enokidake榎だけ / えのきだけSmall capped, long stemmed white mushrooms.
Kabocha南瓜 / カボチャPumpkin.
Kaisō海藻 / かいそうSea vegetables.
Kinoko茸    きのこGeneral term for fungi (i.e. mushrooms).
MaitakeまいたけA mushroom.
Matsutake松茸 / まつたけA fungi found in the mountains; considered a delicacy with price tags of $200 and up for one of these rear treats.
NamekoなめこA button sized mushroom.
Sansai Ryōri山菜料理    さんさいりょうりMountain vegetables.  These vegetables grown in the mountains of Japan, don't have English equivalents, but here are some of the names:
  1. zenmai
  2. warabi
  3. yama-udo
  4. tara-no-me
  5. fukinotō
ShimejiしめじA chunky stem and grey capped mushroom.
Shiitake椎茸 / しいたけA dark brown, thick caps and stalks, mushroom.  This mushroom is planted in the logs of evergreen oak, called shii, hence the name of this mushroom.  Top quality shiitake is called donko
Takenoko竹の子    たけのこBamboo shoots.