"SA SHI SU SE SO": The Secret to Good Japanese Cooking

Do you like Japanese food and want to try making your own? Here are some hints to cook yummy Japanese dishes by yourself and be a great chef!


Japanese Culture

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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.



  • 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.

The information in this article is accurate at the time of publication.

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