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Japan has many traditional dishes besides sushi that you might not be familiar with. For example:

  • Nabe is a hot pot dish with many veggies and fish/meat.
  • Okonomiyaki is a kind of pancake with veggies and meat/seafood inside.
  • Sashimi is sliced fresh fish.
  • Tempura is fried veggies/seafood.

Nabe (Chanko-nabe)

  • Shogayaki is pan-fried pork in ginger sauce.
  • Oyakodon is a bowl of rice with chicken, eggs, and veggies. It’s called “oyako (parent and child)” as the chicken are the parents and the eggs are their babies….
  • Sukiyaki is a hot pot with beef and veggies in a sweet soup served with raw eggs.

There are many, many more dishes that Japanese people love and are proud of.

The secret

Now, here is a secret word in Japan, and it’s what you need for Japanese food:

Sa Shi Su Se So (さ し す せ そ)

  • Sa: Satou (さとう) Sugar
  • Shi: Shio (しお) Salt
  • Su: Su (す) Vinegar (commonly made from rice or grain)
  • Se: Seuyu =Shouyu (せうゆ=しょうゆ) Soy sauce
  • So: Miso (みそ) Miso paste (fermented soybeans, rice, etc)

There are also other must-have items for Japanese food.

  • Mirin (みりん): Sweet sake
  • Sake (さけ): Cooking sake
  • Dashi (だし): soup stock powders (common flavors are bonito, kelp, consomme, chicken, etc.)
  • Mentsuyu (めんつゆ): sweet sauce (often used for soups, sauces). You can make this with soy sauce, mirin, and dashi too.

***These days, Japanese people don’t use too much salt or sugar for their health; instead they use mirin, soy sauce, sake, and miso. If you look up  Japanese recipes, you will see these seasonings a lot.

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