Japanese Food Glossary

| A | B | C | D | E | F | G | H | I | K | M | | N | O | P | S | T | W | Y | Z
abura.. oil.
abura-age.. fried tofu slices.
aemono.. foods in vinegar dressing or sauces.
age.. fried.
amiyaki..cooked over a wire grill.
an.. sweet adzuki bean jam.
anmitsu.. dessert made from (agar-agar), an, and sugar.
asa gohan.. breakfast.
awabi.. abalone.
azuki.. a small red bean, adzuki.


bata.. butter.
battera-zushi.. Osaka-style pressed and molded mackerel sushi.
bento.. traditional boxed lunch.
biru.. beer.


o-cha.. green tea (the -o is an honorific).
chanko-nabe.. seafood and vegetable stew eaten by sumo wrestlers.
chawan.. rice bowl.
chawan mushi.. egg custard with diced vegetables.
chazuke.. rice and various toppings, over which green tea is poured.
chikuwa.. tube shaped, hollow fish cake.
chirashi-zushi.. assorted raw fish on a bed of vinegared rice.
chiizu.. cheese.


daikon.. a large white, carrot shaped Japanese radish.
daizu.. soybeans.
dango.. small, round, dumplings, usually served on a stick.
dashi.. a soup stock made from kelp and fish (basic to Japanese cooking).
dengaku.. tofu or konnyaku broiled with a sweet miso topping.


ebi.. shrimp.
enoki.. long, thin, white mushrooms.


fugu.. blowfish, a highly prized sashimi delicacy.
furutsu.. fruit.


gari.. sliced pickled ginger (served in sushi restaurants).
genmai.. brown rice.
gobo.. burdock root.
gohan.. formal word for rice, also meaning “meal” (the informal word “meshi” can also be used).
goma.. sesame seeds.
gyoza.. Chinese style dumplings of meat or vegetables.


hashi.. the commonly used word for chopsticks.
hijiki.. a variety of seaweed.
hiru-gohan.. lunch.
hiyashi.. cold.
hiyashi-bachi.. served chilled in a bowl with ice and cold water.
hiya yakko.. blocks of cold tofu.
horenso.. spinach


iidako.. small octopus
ika.. squid
ikura.. salmon roe.
inari-zushi.. sushi rice in fried tofu pockets.


kabayaki.. grilled eel on skewers without rice.
kabu.. a small, round, white Japanese turnip.
kai.. a generic term for shellfish.
kaiseki ryori.. elaborate Kyoto style cuisine.
kanpyo.. strips of dried gourd, used for tying foods placed in stews.
kanten.. gelatin derived from seaweed, used mostly in making desserts.
kappa-maki.. rolled sushi with a filling of rice and Japanese cucumbers.
katsuo-bushi.. dried bonito (used to make dashi).
kinoko.. generic term for mushrooms.
kissaten.. coffee shop.
kohi.. coffee.
konbu.. kelp – used in making dashi (soup stock).
konnyaku.. a gelatinous substance made from the “devils-tongue” tuber.
kyuri.. long and thin, Japanese cucumber.


maguro.. tuna.
maki.. rolled.
meshi.. informal word for cooked rice (can also mean “meal.”)
mirin.. sweetened cooking sake.
miso.. fermented soybean paste.
mizu.. water.
mori-soba.. cold buckwheat noodles served on a bamboo screen.
myoga..variety of ginger, highly prized and quite expensive.


nabemono.. quick cooked stew.
nasu.. Japanese eggplant.
natto.. sticky fermented soybeans.
nigiri-zushi.. raw fish over small molded pieces of vinegared rice.
nihon-shu.. specific word for rice wine (sake).
nimono.. foods stewed in sake and soy sauce.
noren..split curtain placed in a door entry. Commonly found in eateries.
nori.. dried seaweed which comes in very thin sheets.
nuka.. rice bran (used to pickle vegetables).



oden.. fish, fish cake and vegetables simmered in broth.
oishii.. word meaning delicious.
okonomiyaki..egg “pancakes” containing diced seafood, vegetables, or meat, that are grilled and topped with a savory sauce.
oshinko..pickles (“fresh fragrence”).
onigiri.. rice ball.
osechi ryoori.. traditional New Year’s food.



ramen..Chinese style egg noodles.
renkon..lotus root.
ringo.. apple.
robatayaki.. restaurant specializing in grilled foods.



sakana.. generic word for “fish”.
shake.. salmon.
o-sake.. rice wine (“nihon-shu”), the -o is an honorific.
sarada.. salad.
sashimi.. raw fish served without rice.
sato-imo.. a small, round, pototo like taro root (“country potato”).
shabu-shabu.. thin slices of beef quick cooked in broth with vegetables.
shiitake.. Japan’s best known mushroom.
shio.. salt.
shiso.. the green perilla leaf, usually served with sashimi (also called “beefsteak leaf). Purple shiso leaf is highly prized for it’s use in pickles.
shoyu.. soy sauce.
shungiku..chrysanthemum leaves, edible and used in stews. Quite tasty.
soba.. buckwheat noodles. A favorite served hot or cold.
somen.. very thin, white flour noodles served cold in summer.



tabemono.. food
takenoko..bamboo shoots
tako.. octopus.
tamago.. egg.
tara.. cod.
tekka-maki.. rolled sushi made with raw tuna.
tendon.. rice topped with tempura fried shrimp.
tenpura.. lightly batter-fried seafood and vegetables.
tofu.. soy bean curd. A delicious and healthy alternative to meats.
tori.. chicken (meat)
tsukemono.. Japanese style pickled vegetables.



wakame.. a variety of seaweed.
wan..bowl (of soup)
waribashi.. throwaway wooden chopsticks.
wasabi.. very hot, green Japanese horseradish.



yaki.. grilled.
yasai..generic term for vegetable.
yose-nabe.. a stew made from whatever is available.
yudofu..tofu simmered in hot water along with kombu seaweed.
yuzu..A highly prized and expensive lemon like citrus.