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9 Common Condiments Used In Japanese Cuisine

9 Common Condiments Used In Japanese Cuisine

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.

Translated by Allie

Written by MATCHA

7. Karashi (Japanese Mustard) & Wasabi (Japanese Horseradish)


Karashi is an essential condiment when you eat oden.

Karashi is a yellow mustard paste often found in little packages or in a small jar. It's a much spicier mustard than what you might find in other countries. Karashi is found at Chinese, Japanese, and set-meals restaurants as well as at food stands and is usually added to dishes such as hiyashi chūka (Japanese chilled noodle salad), shūmai (pork dumplings), katsu (fried pork cutlets) and oden (Japanese winter hot pot dish).


Fresh wasabi just brought in.

Wasabi is a green paste condiment prepared at traditional Japanese restaurants. It's eaten with sushi and sashimi, as well as other raw fish dishes. You may experience a burning sensation inside the nose or even pain in your head if you eat too much at once, but this doesn't last very long. This is a completely unique Japanese condiment, so you should definitely try it when here.

8. Rāyu (Chili Oil)


Photo by Ippei Suzuki on Flickr

You will find this vivid red oil in Chinese restaurants and at rāmen shops. It's made from chili peppers and it is really potent when added to dishes, even if you only add a small amount. Though it's mostly used to make sauce for gyōza as mentioned above, if you're a spicy food fan, why not add it to other dishes too?

9. Beni Shōga (Pickled Ginger)


Image from Know Your Noodles – The Uniqueness of Hakata Ramen

Beni shōga is found mainly at gyūdon-ya (beef and rice bowl restaurants) and Hakata rāmen restaurants. It is ginger pickled in plum vinegar and colored with shokubeni (*1). It tastes sour, sweet, salty and spicy all at the same time. Its vivid red-pink hue gives dishes a pop of color and is said to boost your appetite.

*1. Shokubeni: red food coloring, typically naturally made

The next time you are out at a Japanese restaurant, why not give one or more of these condiments a taste test? You might just find the spice you have been looking for.

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