If you have been a faithful follower of my blog, you’ll see that I love to make Japanese dishes. I thought I would let you in on a little sneak peak into my Japanese pantry to see what you can use if you ever intend to start cooking Japanese food. FYI, I’m not endorsing any products, just recommending what I think is the most economical and most accessible. It’s not necessary to own all these ingredients to build a Japanese repertoire either, I just always have these few ingredients at hand.
Above, clockwise from left;
Mirin and Cooking Sake – Among anything else, it is best to have these two because most Japanese dishes calls for this whether it’s to marinade, cook or just to make sauces from it. Nikujaga Karaage
Kewpie Deep Roasted Sesame Dressing – This is not a must but I just love the flavour of this dressing. Be advised that it is quite salty though, so you have to pair it with something bland to balance it out. Soba Noodles
Grain Vinegar – I love the flavour of Japanese vinegars more than any other types. When you pickle something with this vinegar, it somehow elevates the yum factor. Yasai No Sokuseki-zuke
Japanese Mayo, Okonomiyaki Brown Sauce, Wasabi Paste – Japanese Mayo taste slightly different from ordinary mayo. If you wish to make okonomiyaki, it’s best to have these toppings, except for the wasabi. Okonomiyaki
Konbu Kelp – Used to make soup stocks for lots of udon and soba dishes. Relevant in Korean cuisines too. Soon Du Bu Jjigae
Roasted Seaweed, Nori – The main wrap for sushis and onigiris.
Wakame - Dried seaweed used in miso soups.
Aosa - Fine seaweed shavings. The seaweed topping for okonomiyaki.
Mixed Seaweed – Usually put into onigiri mix but great as garnish too. Chicken Katsudon
Shichimi pepper and instant dashi – Shichimi is Japanese 7 spice blend. I love this pepper, sometimes I think they’re hotter than chilli powder itself. The instant dashi is just packets of dashi powder. I use it a lot to make sauces and soups. Nikujaga Kakiage
Curry Mix – Japanese curry is very different from ordinary curry. For one thing, they taste sweeter. My husband loves Japanese curry, it was a Japanese friend that actually got us hooked. I always keep a box of this in my pantry. They’re not the cheapest thing in the world so it’s a treat everytime when I cook this.
Tempura flour – Although this flour is for tempura dishes, I kinda use it as the base coating for a lot of deep-fry dishes. Again, this is also not the cheapest thing so make your choice wisely. Kakiage
Miso paste and Tofu – I used to buy those packets of instant miso where they provide you the dried wakame, scallions and tofu skins. But I think economically it’s not practical. I think it’s better just to buy this big tub of miso (that has dashi in it) and you can make however much soup you’d like. I prefer this Japanese egg tofu more for the portion and storage factor. Sometimes when buying a whole block of tofu you won’t finish it all on time. And they have a short perishable period. A small tube like this is more manageable.
Panko Breadcrumbs – These breadcrumbs have a crunchier texture compared to ordinary breadcrumbs. Not to diss plain breadcrumbs, it’s more of a texture preference thing. If you like mega crunch, this is a good choice. If you prefer less, go for the normal breadcrumbs. Chicken Katsudon Dakgogi Wanja
Bonito flakes – Dried, fermented fish shavings. Good for soup stocks and a lot of garnishes for dishes. However, do not ever sprinkle bonito flakes under a moving fan. None of it will touch the plate. Okonomiyaki
Edamame - I would hardly call this an ingredient, it’s more a snack. A very healthy snack because they’re soy beans. Cooking is low level difficulty too. Just boil in water with a pinch of salt. However, I did improvise and used the beans in a noodle dish.