Japanese Pantry

January 13, 2016

Japanese Pantry

Add these Japanese items to your pantry and you’ll reach for them again and again. Some of these items are common enough that you can find them at Whole Foods or your local health food store. Others might require a trip to an Asian grocery store or an online order. Your efforts will be richly rewarded.

You don’t need to spend a lot of money on fancy sake for cooking, but a decent bottle is tastier and more complex than cooking sake.

This mineral rich dried kelp is what gives dishes depth. The sheets should be sturdy with fine sea salt on the outside. Look for labels that say “kombu.”

Bonito Flakes
Dried, fermented, and smoked skipjack tuna (also known as katsuobushi) that is the yin to kombu’s yang in dishes. Quality ranges widely. You do get what you pay for here.

Rice Vinegar
Avoid seasoned rice vinegar, which has sweeteners and other additives in it. Choose a brand that lists rice and water as the only ingredients.

It encompasses a range of fermented soybean pastes, from younger fresh-tasting white to long-aged, funky red. The latter, which is mellow and sweet, is the best intro.

Brewed from sticky rice, this cooking wine is sweeter and less alcoholic than sake. Pick one made with sugar rather than glucose or corn syrup because you can taste the difference.

Togarashi & Sansho
Make fruity togarashi chile powder your new Aleppo. Sansho, made from the husks of sansho peppercorns, lends tongue-tingling anise notes.

Short-Grain White Rice
With its pearly grains and subtle flavors, koshihikari is the crème de la crème of Japanese short-grain rice.

Usukuchi Soy
Lighter, thinner, and saltier than standard soy, usukuchi is perfect for seasoning dishes like yosenabe (hot pot) without darkening the color too much.

“Work With What You Got!”

© Victoria Hart Glavin Tiny New York Kitchen © 2016 All Rights Reserved

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