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abura-age
Thin slices of tofu that are deep-fried.  Often used to wrap inari sushi and added to miso soup.  Also known as aburage. Atsuage is a thicker cut, and a thinner cut is usuage.
aburage
See abura-age.
aemono
Cold dishes mixed with dressing.
agemono
Deep-fried dishes, such as tempura.
anko
Sweet, jam-like paste made from azuki beans

anpan             

Sweet bun filled with anko.

atsuage
Thick-cut deep-fried tofu.
azuki beans
Burgundy-colored bean usually cooked with sticky rice or used in desserts.
benishoga
Red-colored pickled ginger.  Usually shredded and used as garnish.
bento
See the section!
bento bako
Bento box.
bonito flakes
Bonito is a type of fish (also known as shipjack tuna).  Dried bonito is shaved into flakes – large flakes are used to make dashi, and smaller flakes are used as a condiment and are often moistened with soy sauce and stuffed inside onigiri.   
cha-cha gohan
See ochazuke.
chazuke
See ochazuke.
chikuwa
Pureed and steamed fish cake shaped into a tube form.
chirashi-zushi
Bowl of sushi rice with the other ingredients mixed in.  The ingredients often are artfully arranged on top of the rice before mixing in to eat.
daifuku
Dessert consisting of mochi stuffed with a sweet filling, such as ankoIchigo daifuku is mochi stuffed with a fresh strawberry and anko.
daikon
Large, white, mild-flavored Japanese radish.  It can be simmered, grated, pickled (takuan) and dried (kiriboshi daikon).
dango
Dumplings.  Meatballs are niku-dango.
dashi
Soup stock commonly used in Japanese cooking, usually made by heating bonito flakes and kombu in water, then straining the liquid.  There are also good instant dashi powders on the market.  Dashi is the base for miso soup, other broths, and many simmering stocks.
donabe
Japanese casserole with a lid.  Often used to cook one-pot dishes, called nabe.
donburi
 A “rice bowl dish” consisting of some form of protein and vegetables simmered together and then served over rice, usually in an oversized bowl (also called a donburi).  Types of donburi include oyakodon (chicken, egg, and onion), katsudon (breaded, deep-fried pork cutlets, onion, and egg), tendon (tempura shrimp and vegetables), gyudon (beef and onion), and unadon (eel).
ebi
Shrimp.
edamame
Green soybeans. 
enokitake
Long, thin, white mushrooms.  Also called golden needle mushrooms, winter mushrooms, velvet foot, or velvet stem.
furikake
Dry condiment usually sprinkled on top of or mixed into rice.  Typically consists of a mixture of sesame seeds, nori, sugar, and salt, as well as other ingredients.  Many brands also contain MSG.
furoshiki
Traditional cloth used to wrap clothes, gifts, or other goods.  Often used to wrap up a bento box and chopsticks.
futomaki
Thick-rolled sushi that uses many different kinds of ingredients.
gari
Sweet, pickled ginger.  Often served with sushi and used as a condiment.
gobo
Burdock root.  Used in many dishes, such as kinpira.
goma
Sesame seeds.  There are two types: shiro-goma (unhulled white) and kuro-goma (black).
gomashio
Flavoring made from sesame seeds and salt.  Similar to furikake.
gyoza
Dumpling with crimped edges that is stuffed with ground meat and/or vegetables and resembles a small turnover.  Usually steamed or pan-fried (followed by steaming in the skillet).
gyudon
Donburi consisting of a bowl of rice topped with beef and onion simmered in a mildly-sweet sauce.
hashi
Chopsticks.
hashioki
Chopsticks rest.
hibachi
Cast-iron bowl filled with charcoal that is used for grilling food.
hijiki
Sea vegetable that is boiled and dried before selling (looks like thick black thread pieces).  To prepare hijiki for cooking, it is first soaked in water.
ichigo daifuku
Mochi cake stuffed with a fresh strawberry and anko paste.
inari
Pouch of aburage or usuage filled with sushi rice.  Also known as inari-zushi.
inari-zushi
See inari.
jyubako
Similar to a bento box, but larger and more elaborate, typically with three to five layers of shallow boxes in black or red lacquer and decorated with gilt patterns.  During the last days of the year, Japanese women prepare elegant new year's foods and pack them in jyubako.
kabayaki
Grilled freshwater eel.
kabocha
Type of squash with a deep green skin with some striping and a deep orange-yellow flesh.
kamaboko
Type of processed seafood product.  White fish are pureed, formed into loaves and steamed until cooked and firm.  Served sliced with dipping sauce or included in hot soups, one-dish meals, or noodle dishes.
kampyo
Long dried strips of gourd; often used in sushi rolls.
katakuriko
Starch traditionally produced from a species of lily, but now more commonly processed from potato.
katsudon
Donburi consisting of tonkatsu over rice with egg and other condiments.
katsuo
Bonito fish.
katsuoboshi
See bonito flakes.
kinchaku
A small bag, typically with a drawstring, used to hold a bento box and utensils.
kinpira
"Sauté and simmer” cooking technique commonly used to cook root vegetables, various types of seaweed (such as hijiki), and/or tofu.
kinugoshi-dofu
Silken tofu.
kiriboshi
Dried and shredded daikon.
kombu
Edible kelp.  Usually sold dried and used to make dashi.  Can also be simmered and often used in onigiri.  Also spelled konbu.
konbu
See kombu.
kompeito
Star-shaped sugar candy (like in “Spirited Away”!).
konnyaku
Made from a plant and is usually mottled grey in appearance and has a jelly-like texture.  Also known as devil’s tongue jelly.
korokke
Made by mixing cooked chopped meat, seafood, and/or vegetables with mashed potato or white sauce, rolling in wheat flour, eggs and panko, then deep-frying until brown on the outside.  Related to the French croquette.
kuro-goma
Black sesame seeds.
maki
Cylindrical ‘tube’ of sushi made using a bamboo mat to roll nori around rice and various fillings.  Maki rolls are generally cut into 6 or 8 pieces before serving.
matcha
Fine, powdered green tea used in Japanese tea ceremonies and also to dye and flavor foods like mochi, soba noodles, and pastries.
matsutake
Type of mushroom.
mirin
A slightly sweet rice wine that is used as a condiment and in Japanese cooking.
miso
Thick paste made from fermented soybeans and other fermented products.  There are many types of miso.
mitsuba
Herb used as a seasoning and in salads.  Other names include Japanese wild parsley and honeywort.
mochi
Glutinous (sticky) rice that is pounded into paste and molded into shape.  Mochi is used in savory dishes and also in desserts (like daifuku).
mochiko
Glutinous rice flour.
momen-dofu
Firm tofu.
mushimono
Steamed dishes.
nabemono
One-pot meal.
naganegi
Welsh onion.  Also known as bunching onion and Japanese scallions.
natto
Fermented soybeans with a stringy and slippery texture.  Infamously stinky.
nigiri
Oblong mound of sushi-rice topped with a bit of wasabi and a thin slice of topping, sometimes wrapped with a thin band of nori
niku-dango
Meatballs.
nikujaga
A much-loved beef and potato stew, typically served with rice.
nimono
Dishes simmered in a soup stock, such as nikujaga.
nori
Dried edible seaweed.  Flat sheets are used to roll maki sushi, and it can be shredded and used as a condiment.
obento
Another word for bento.
ochazuke
Simple dish made by pouring hot green tea over rice and toppings.  Also called chazuke and cha-cha gohan.  Common toppings include tsukemono, umeboshi, nori, furikake, sesame seeds, salted fish, and wasabiOchazuke made with unagi is called unacha. 
okonomiyake
Pan-fried cake made with batter and various ingredients.  The batter generally consists of flour, grated yam, water or dashi, and egg.  Ingredients mixed in include cabbage, onion, meat, seafood, and cheese.  There are many variations.
omu-rice
Omelet filled with ketchup-flavored fried rice.  Often topped with additional ketchup or tonkatsu sauce.
omu-soba
Omelet with yakisoba filling.  Often topped with ketchup or tonkastu sauce.
onigiri
Rice ball snack usually in the shape of a triangle or oval and wrapped in noriOnigiri traditionally is filed with umeboshi, salted fish, or bonito flakes moistened with soy sauce.  Other types of fillings are popular as well, such as tuna salad, kombu, and egg.
oyakodon
“Parent and child” donburi consisting of simmered chicken, egg, green onion, and other ingredients over rice.
panko
Type of breadcrumb made from wheat bread that has a lighter, crispier texture than Western breadcrumbs.
rakkyo
Pickled Japanese shallot; used for garnishing.
ramune
Carbonated soft drink in a glass bottle sealed with a glass marble.
renkon
Lotus root.
sake
Japanese rice wine that can be enjoyed hot or cold.  Lower grade sake is used for cooking.
sansho
Relative of Sichuan pepper.
sashimi
Raw seafood.  Usually accompanied by rice.
senbei
Rice cracker.
shabu-shabu
One-pot meal with sliced meat and vegetables that is more savory and less sweet than sukiyaki.
shiitake
Chinese black mushroom.
shimeji
Oyster mushroom.
shirataki
Noodles made from yam cakes.
shiro-goma
Unhulled white sesame seeds.
shiso
Also known as the beefsteak plant, perilla, or Japanese basil.  It is a perennial herb with a nice smell but a bitter taste to some.
shoga
Ginger root.
shojin ryori
Buddhist vegetarian dishes.  The teachings of Buddhism forbid seekers of enlightenment from consuming alcohol and all types of meat and seafood, as well as the five strong-smelling herbs of the lily family: garlic, scallions, onions, shallots, and leeks.
shoyu
Soy sauce.
sichimi togarashi
Common spice mixture containing seven ingredients: ground red chile pepper, mandarin orange peel, sesame seed, poppy seed, hemp seed, nori, and ground sansho.
soba
Thin buckwheat noodles that are dark gray in color.  Usually cooked and served with various toppings and condiments.
somen
Thin, white, wheat flour noodles usually served cold or stir-fried with other ingredients.
spam musubi
A Hawaiian favorite snack.  Generally composed of a block of sushi rice topped with a sliced of marinated and fried SPAM, then wrapped with a piece of nori.
su
Japanese rice vinegar.
sukiyaki
One-pot dish with thinly-sliced beef, tofu, noodles, naganegi, cabbage, enoki mushrooms, and other ingredients.
sunomono
See tsukemono.
suribachi
Grinding bowl
sushi
Variety of foods prepared with vinegared rice.  Toppings or fillings include raw, cooked, or marinated seafood, meat, vegetables, and egg.  Different types include maki (rolls), nigiri (hand-formed), inari (tofu pouch), futomaki (thick-rolled), and chirashi-zushi (“scattered” sushi).
tai
Carp or bream.
taiyaki
Waffle-like cake traditionally filled with anko paste that is molded into the shape of a carp fish (tai).
tako
Octopus.
takoyaki
Spherical, fried or baked dumpling made from batter, octopus, gari, konnyaku, and scallions.  Typically made in a special pan made of cast iron with hemispherical molds.
takuan
Pickled daikon, usually bright yellow in color.
tamago
Egg.
tamagoyaki
Slightly sweet, layered omelet.  Also used as sushi topping.
tamari
Thick, dark soy sauce, usually brewed without wheat.
tempura
Deep-fried batter-dipped seafood and vegetables.  Usually served with a dipping sauce.
teriyaki
Cooking sauce for fish or meat.  The food is cut or sliced and broiled or grilled in a sweet soy sauce marinade that is generally made of mirin, soy sauce, sugar, and sake.
tobiko
Flying fish roe.  The eggs are very small and orange to red in color and are used in certain types of sushi.
tofu
Soybean curd.  Silken tofu is called kinugoshi-dofu and firm tofu is calld momen-dofu.
togarashi
Hot Japanese chile.
tonkatsu
Breaded, deep-fried pork cutlet that is generally served with shredded cabbage and dipping sauce.
tsukemono
Various types of pickled vegetables.  Also spelled sunomono.
udon
Thick, white, wheat-based noodle used in soups and stir-fries.
umeboshi
Pickled Japanese plum with a very sour taste.  Often included in the rice layer of a bento box as umeboshi is believed to help keep rice fresh.  Also commonly used as onigiri filling.
unacha
Ochazuke with unagi topping.
unadon
Donburi made with unagi in a sweet sauce over rice.
unagi
Freshwater eel.  Grilled eel is called kabayaki.
uni
Sea urchin.
usuage
Deep-fried thin-cut tofu.   
wakame
Type of edible kelp (lobe-leaf seaweed) often used in miso soup and salads.
wasabi
Grated root of the wasabi plant that is believed to kill germs on raw fish.  Better than imitation wasabi made of horseradish with green food coloring and wasabi oil flavoring.
yakidofu
Grilled tofu.
yakimono
Grilled dishes.
yakiniku

Style of cooking meat and vegetables over a charcoal or gas burner (or on a griddle).

yakisoba
Flour-based ramen-like noodles that are stir-fried with a variety of ingredients, such as meat, seafood, and vegetables.
yakitori
Traditionally consists of grilled skewers of marinated chicken pieces and vegetables.  Now other ingredients are used, such as beef, pork, and seafood.
yudofu
Boiled tofu.
yuzu
Citrus fruit native to eastern Asia that resembles a small grapefruit that becomes yellow as it ripens.  The zest is used for cooking.
zaru
Bamboo basket, often used to drain noodles.
zaru-soba
The most basic soba dish in which boiled, cold soba noodles are eaten with a shoyu-based dipping sauce.  Commonly enjoyed in the warmer months.
zoni
Rice cake soup that is commonly eaten during New Year's.
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