What You Need to Create Japanese Cuisine at Home and Where to Buy Them

by Melo! SG on March 24, 2020

Singapore is not short on Japanese restaurants, snack shops and cafés. Even local food courts, hawker centres and coffee shops have stalls offering Japanese favourites.

But if you enjoy home-cooked meals and want to try your hand at Japanese cuisine, here is a list of ingredients and equipment you need, what you can create with them, and where to buy them.

INGREDIENTS

Miso Paste

Source: Taste Of Home

This is soybean with barley, rice, rye and other grains that is seasoned with salt and fermented into a paste. The longer it is left to age, the darker and more complex the taste of the paste. That is why you will find different types of miso on the shelves. White miso orshironiso is the lightest with the mildest taste. Red miso or aka miso has been aged longer hence the more intense colour and higher salt content. Mixed miso or awase miso is a blend of red and white miso.

You will need miso paste to make the basic miso soup that accompanies many Japanese rice dishes. Because of its high umami quotient, it can be used to make sauces as well to create dishes like miso and ginger fish.

Mirin

Source: Bon Appetit



This is a sweet Japanese rice wine not unlike sake but sweeter and less potent. It is necessary for making your own teriyaki sauce, katsudon sauce, and glazes for your meat and fish.

Rice Vinegar

 
Source: Amazon

This is vinegar made from fermented rice and is more delicate, mild and sweet compared to white distilled vinegar. Rice vinegar is important for making sushi and pickled vegetables that are often served with rice and miso soup.

Dashi

Source: Just One Cookbook

Dashi is a fish stock that is the base for miso soup and used in the batter of foods like okonomiyaki and takoyaki. You can make dashi from scratch with bonito flakes, dried sardines, dried shrimp, dried scallops, dried shitake mushroom, azuki beans and toasted soybeans. But why bother when you can get a bottle of the stock from supermarkets?

Panko

Source: Guangzhou Kangying Foodstuffs Co., Ltd.

Panko is breadcrumbs made only with white bread. Flakier and less fine than regular breadcrumbs, panko is light and airy so it absorbs less oil, making the food crispier. You will need panko to make tonkatsu and korokke.

Tempura Flour

Source: NYT Cooking

This is a flour that allows you to make a light batter required for tempura. There are many recipes for creating your own tempura batter but using store-bought tempura flour will give you just as satisfying a result.

Wasabi

Source: Japan Centre

The Japanese horseradish is a necessary accompaniment for sushi. Wasabi draws out the flavour of the raw fish in sushi while dulling the smell.

Dried Kombu



This is dried kelp that is used in Japanese soups and salads. Miso soup requires kombu as does tsukudani which is akombu salad with sugar and soy sauce. The strong, sweet flavour oftsukudani makes it the perfect partner for hot steamed rice. Kombu can be used to fill your onigiri as well.

Seaweed

Source: Savvy Tokyo

You will need a variety of these to create Japanese food at home. Roasted seaweed sheets are used to make sushi. Shredded seaweed or kizami nori is used to garnish rice bowls and noodle dishes.

Japanese Rice

Source: Japan Centre

Sometimes labelled sushi rice or uruchimai, this is a short-grain rice that, when cooked, is sticky and can be easily picked up in clumps. It is the only type of rice that can be used to make sushi because any other types will not stick together and, thus, cannot be shaped.

Noodles


Source: Trip Advisor

Soba , udon and ramen – you will need an assortment of these to create yakisoba, udon and ramen dishes. You can buy both the fresh and instant varieties at supermarkets.

Bonito Flakes

Source: Trip Advisor

Bonito flakes are dried bonito fish that is grated into flakes. They are sprinkled on top of takoyaki, okonomiyaki, yakisoba, and cold tofu to give an added texture and flavour to the dish.

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EQUIPMENT

Hangiri



This is a bamboo basket that is used for mixing and cooling sushi rice. Shallow with a flat bottom, it is made of a Japanese cypress called hinoki. The wood is meant to absorb the excess moisture from the rice while the wide surface lets the rice cool easily so it can be handled and shaped.

Makisu

Source: Wikipedia

This is the bamboo mat that is woven and held together by cotton strings, and used to roll a type of sushi called makizushi. You can use it to shape other soft foods like omelettes as well.

Bamboo Rice Paddle

Source: Everything Chopsticks

This is necessary for scooping the rice mixed with rice vinegar for making sushi. Being made of wood, it will not react with the vinegar and affect the taste of the sushi.

Bamboo Whisk

Source: Matcha Source



This is a whisk carved from a single piece of bamboo. Called a chasen, it is designed to aggravate the fine matcha powder to release the flavour and create a frothy suspension. Matcha aficionados swear by it. If you use metal spoons or whisks, you will find that the matcha tends to clump together on the utensil.

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WHERE TO SHOP



Local supermarkets like NTUC FairPrice, Giant and Cold Storage have dedicated aisles for Japanese ingredients. Then, there are specialty Japanese supermarkets like Meidi-Ya,Kuriya Japanese Market, Iroha Mart, ShiokJapan, Sakuraya Fish Mart and grocery store J-mart where you stock up on Japanese ingredients.

With the addition of Don Don Donki and Daiso, apart from ingredients, you can also get Japanese cookware. So, creating Japanese cuisine you can enjoy in the comforts of your own home will be a breeze.

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