6 Classic Ingredients for Japanese Cuisine

6 Classic Ingredients for Japanese Cuisine


Miso paste is also a product of fermented soy beans, and it is often mixed with sea salt and rice to make a paste. This is the basis of miso soup, but it’s also a great base for broths or for adding a great flavor to meats.


Kombu is another element in Japanese dashi stock. It is a type of dried seaweed kelp, and the Japanese age it for great flavors. You will find in Japan Kombu maturing is a serious business, and the best restaurants always have a favorite trusted supplier.


Nori is another dried, edible seaweed. This is the stuff which is often used to wrap maki sushi rolls, but you’ll also find it cut up as a topping on ramen and soups.


Wasabi is a paste made from a Japanese variety of horseradish. Real wasabi is very expensive as the root is very difficult to farm correctly, so most wasabi pastes are actually horseradish! It’s a fiery accompaniment to sushi, but also great with meats.


Soy sauce is one of the most basic flavorings in Japanese cuisine. When cooking Japanese food you use soy sauce instead of salt to add savory flavor. Soy sauce is made from brewed fermented soy beans, and you can use it as a dipping sauce too. Generally it’s mixed with rice wine vinegar, mirin and sometimes chilli, ginger or spring onions to create a base for many dishes.


Sushi rice is a good all-round rice to have in the cupboard when cooking Japanese food. It’s got a short grain, and gets sticky and glutinous when cooked. This is great if you’re eating rice with chopsticks as it will clump together. Sushi rice is great for sushi but also goes well with Japanese curries and can be used to make onigiri.