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9 Common Condiments Used In Japanese Cuisine

9 Common Condiments Used In Japanese Cuisine

Translated by Allie

Written by MATCHA

2016.05.26 Bookmark

At Japanese restaurants you will often find an array of little bottles and jars already on the table. If you're not sure of the contents, don't fear! We introduce here nine of the most common Japanese condiments.

3. Koshō (Pepper)

Pepper is also used in most of the countries in the world and Japan is no exception. There are two types of pepper commonly found in Japan: black pepper and white pepper. White pepper is more commonly found at Chinese restaurants, and because it looks quite similar to salt, it's a good idea to double-check before adding it to your meal. Black pepper could be in either a pepper mill or in a shaker.

4. Sōsu (Sauce)


Photo by Toshihiro Oimatsu on Flickr. Sauce (right) is thicker and brown in color compared to soy sauce (left)

Sauce is found at set meal restaurants or western-style Japanese restaurants. It is black or brown in color and has a sweet-sour taste. It's essentially Worcester sauce, which is made from vegetables, fruits, spices, sugar and soy sauce but is typically just called "sauce" in Japan.

At some restaurants, it may look quite similar to soy sauce, but is thicker and smells sweet. So if you can't tell which one is which, try smelling it before you pour.

There are also thicker sauces called chūnō sōsu (中濃ソース) as well as different sauces for yakisoba (stir fried noodles) and okonomiyaki (Japanese savory pancakes) in Japan.

5. O-Su (Vinegar)

You will find vinegar at most rāmen shops and Chinese restaurants. As you know, vinegar tastes sour but adds a sharp freshness to dishes. Most of the vinegar found at restaurants in Japan is rice vinegar.

It's transparent or yellowish in color. A great way to use it is to make a sauce for gyōza (Japanese fried dumplings) by mixing soy sauce and vinegar together and then adding some rāyu (see below).

6. Shichimi (Seven Spice Blend) & Ichimi (Chili Pepper)


Photo by on Jun OHWADA Flickr. Shichimi Tōgarashi is a mixture of seven spices.

You will find red flakes like in the picture above at soba or udon noodle restaurants. There are two types, one is called ichimi which is ground dried red chili peppers and the other is shichimi which is ichimi with six other spices added to it. Even if you're a spicy food fan, be really careful adding this to your dishes as a little goes a long way.

Next PageOn the next page, read about Japan's unique spices!
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