Friday, September 5, 2008

Glossary of Japanese Snack and Food Terms

Note: This glossary is constantly being built. If there is a term you'd like to see added or a question about a certain word, please leave a comment and I'll add the term or provide an explanation in the comments.

Also, please keep in mind that this is just a quick reference. Please click on the linked information for full explanations from other sources.
  • adzuki: Red beans. This is the type of bean that is often used in Japanese sweets.
  • anko (an): Red beans mixed with sugar to make a bean paste. This is often used to fill traditional Japanese sweets.
  • anmitsu (あんみつ): a dessert made up of cubes of jelly made from seaweed combined with fruit, sweetened red beans and sweet black syrup.
  • arare (あられ): hard, crunchy, pellet-like rice snacks which resemble hail
  • bento: "lunch box"
  • black sugar: Brown sugar or molasses sugar.
  • "bo": Literally, this means "stick" but this word is used to describe foods sold in what we would call "bar" form.
  • castella (カステラ): a type of Portuguese sponge cake which is very popular in Japan.
  • cider (サイダー): a lemon lime drink
  • dagashi: cheap snacks designed for children
  • daifuku: a rice cake (mochi) filled with confections such as sweet red beans.
  • dama (だま): lumps
  • dango: "Dumplings" or balls made from rice flour which come in a variety of flavors. They are often served on a stick and covered in a sweet sauce.
  • dashi: Japanese soup stock prepared in a variety of ways including with fish parts, soy sauce, kelp, and mushrooms.
  • dekopon: A Japanese orange which is sweeter than conventional oranges. They can be identified by a small bump on the top.
  • edamame: Baby soybeans served in their pods. These are often boiled, salted and served with alcoholic beverages.
  • fuwa fuwa: "fluffy", (an onomatopoeia)
  • goma: sesame seed
  • hiragana: Japanese phonetic characters which are used to represent Japanese words. 
  • hyuga-natsu: a fragrant and somewhat sour citrus fruit from the Miyagi prefecture area of Japan
  • imagawayaki (今川焼き):  A Japanese pancake-like pastry which is shaped like a hockey puck and filled with red beans or other fillings. It is usually sweet, but there are also savory versions.
  • iwashi/いわし: sardines
  • kamaboko: processed white fish sold in small "loaves" or tubes (similar to cookie dough tubes in the U.S.)
  • kanji: Chinese characters used in Japanese writing. These are not phonetic so you must be able to recognize the character's meaning to be able to pronounce it.
  • karinto (花林糖): a flour, sugar and yeast-based fried snack (akin to deep fried doughnut batter). Typically, it is coated in brown sugar, but other flavors are sold.
  • katakana: Japanese phonetic characters which are often used to represent foreign words. For example: "Cheese" in English is phonetically represented in Japanese as "Chii-zu" (チーズ).
  • katsuoboshi: Fish shavings (from tuna) which are used to flavor various Japanese dishes.
  • kinako: Toasted soy bean flour which resembles peanut butter in flavor
  • kombu:Seaweed or kelp used in Japanese soup stock or dishes.
  • kongari (こんがり): "browned", often used on products that looked toasted.
  • koshian: Red bean paste passed through a sieve or strainer to remove the skins in preparation for using it in sweets or other dishes.
  • kuchidoke (くちどけ): "melt in your mouth"; often used for creamy chocolate products
  • manju: A general name for a variety of Japanese sweets which tend to include (but are not limited to) a shell made from rice, yam, or buckwheat flour and a filling from sweetened beans.
  • matcha:Very fine powdered green tea used in tea ceremonies and used for flavoring and dying food.
  • marron: Chestnuts
  • mentaiko (明太子): Marinated pollock roe (fish eggs)
  • mirin: Sweet rice wine used in cooking (not for drinking).
  • miso: Fermented soy bean paste, often used in soups or as flavoring in various dishes.
  • mitsu: thin, dark sweet syrup used with traditional Japanese sweets like warabimochi and anmitsu.
  • mochi: Rice cake made by pounding rice until it is stretchy and can be formed into shapes.
  • momo: peach
  • monaka: sweets (beans, ice cream, chestnuts, etc.) sandwiched between two bland wafers
  • mugi-choco: Chocolate-coated puffed wheat
  • mugi-cha: Roasted barley tea
  • natsumikan: "summer oranges" - a grapefruit like Japanese citrus fruit
  • nori: edible seaweed
  • onigiri: rice balls
  • oshiruko: Sweet red bean soup with mochi.
  • otsumami: Snacks to be eaten with alcoholic beverages. Usually, they are salty, but not always. Sometimes referred to as "sakana" or "skuukoo".
  • pero pero (ペロペロ): "licking" (used with candies on sticks)
  • saku saku: "crispy", (an onomatopoeia)
  • sakura: cherry blossom (often used to describe cherry-flavored sweets)
  • sarasara: indicates the sound of something moving smoothly like water or sand, or it can mean "squeaky clean", (an onomatopoeia)
  • satsuma: a citrus fruit of Chinese origin, similar to a mandarin orange
  • satsumaimo: Japanese sweet potato
  • shittori (しっとり): moist, damp (often used to denote softness in crisp snacks)
  • shoyu: Soy sauce
  • soba boro (蕎麦ぼうろ): buckwheat cookies made with whole wheat flour, sugar, eggs, and buckwheat
  • suppai: sour, or acidic
  • taiyaki: a fish-shaped sweet made of pancake-like batter usually made with a filling of beans or custard
  • takoyaki: octopus dumplings
  • tare: thickened soy sauce, often mixed with other flavors, often used as an accompaniment to meat
  • taro: a Japanese corm (plant stem)
  • tonkatsu: breaded, fried pork cutlet.
  • tonkotsu: pork bone
  • torori (とろ~り): creamy, melting
  • torukeru (とるける): melt, melty, or melting, often used to describe ganache- or fudge-like chocolate confections
  • tsubu tsubu: "pebbly", (an onomatopoeia)
  • umeboshi: Sour and salty pickled plums.
  • wagashi: traditional Japanese sweets, often served with tea
  • warabimochi (蕨餅): a jelly-like sweet made from braken starch, often served with kinako and mitsu (thin, dark, sweet syrup)
  • wasabi: Japanese horseradish
  • watagashi: cotton candy
  • yakiimo: grilled sweet potato, often sold by street stalls or vendors
  • yakiniku: grilled meat
  • yakitori: grilled chicken on wooden skewers
  • yatsuhashi:  a triangular-shaped Japanese sweet made from rice flour and often filled with beans or other fillings; it is commonly sold in its uncooked form as a souvenir and is quite sweet and flavored with cinnamon
  • yooshoku(洋食): a synthesis of European and Japanese cuisine developed during the 19th century during the Meiji restoration
  • youkan: a jelly dessert usually made with bean paste, usually sold in blocks
  • yuzu: A citrus fruit, the juice and rind of which are used to flavor various dishes. It tastes like a cross between a mandarin orange and a grapefruit.
  • yuzukoshoo: a fermented seasoning made from yuzu, salt and chili which is often used in savory dishes
  • zunda (ずんだ): mashed raw soy beans (edamame); it is often used in sweets, but also other types of regional cuisine (especially in the Tohoku region)


Sue Chua said...

Hi!My collegue just came back from Hokkaido and she brought me a box Jaga Pokkuru(Hokkaido Premium Potato).

Since I am a vegetarian that do not eat onion, garlic and leek. Is this food contain any ingredient that I mentioned?

Looking for your advise! Many thanks~!


Orchid64 said...

Unfortunately, I no longer have the package and access to the ingredients list so I can't answer your question accurately. Because this is a souvenir, the web site is thin on nutritional data, but it seems to indicate these are potatoes, sea salt, and fried in oil. However, if you are allergic to onion, garlic or leek, I'm not sure that you should eat them because there is no guarantee that these types of seasonings (as powders) are not used. Also, I cannot say whether or not the oil used is not mixed with animal fat or if it is pure vegetable oil.

In Japan, few people are vegetarian and few have food allergies so such concerns are not always addressed. I'm sorry that I can't be more helpful.

Sue Chua said...

Thanks for your advice :)

unlimitedsyc said...

Hi! This is late but, have you ever tried baumkuchen? It's a very popular cake that the Japanese love.They sell them in prewrapped (not freshly baked) wholes at the closest Mitsuwa, which is really far away (4 hours away, but worth it). I wasn't able to snag one before I left (I forgot ;.;"). If you can, please try it! :) looking forward to your review about it!

Orchid64 said...

Hi there! I have tried baum kuchen many times in the past. It was a frequent "omiyage" (souvenir) at my office. I hadn't though much about reviewing it because I usually got it in specific circumstances, but I really should include it just as part of the very common range of snacks in Japan!

Thanks for your comment!