Since I moved to Michigan 5 years ago I have been slowly building my pantry. I think this is the best way rather than buying everything all at the same time. Besides, you can never buy everything all at once. There is not one place that carries everything you need in the kitchen.
I have always been adventurous in cooking. I would try to fix anything as long as the ingredients are available. I am lucky enough to live in a city that has a lot of Asian, Japanese to be specific. I worked at a Japanese restaurant that not only serves typical Japanese food but also traditional home cooked meals that you would not find anywhere else. From then on, I have started to build my “JAPANESE PANTRY”. Here’s a list of my Japanese Essentials. I have attached links to show you how these items look.
- Soy Sauce – KIKKOMAN is the preferred brand when it come to Japanese cooking. I have both the Regular and the Light soy sauce
- Japanese Sake – Sake removes the “gameyness” in Japanese food. You can substitute this with DRY SHERRY
- Mirin – Mirin is the sweet kind of sake. You can substitute this with SWEET SHERRY or two part Sake plus one part sugar or White wine.
- Hondashi – granules of Japanese fish stock used in many Japanese soup casserole and consomme. You can substitute this with fish sauce or anchovy paste.
- Dried Kelp Seaweed (Kombu) – Used in almost all soup based dishes and sauces like Nabe’s, Tempura Udon/Soba and Tentsuyu (Tempura Sauce)
- Katsuoboshi (Bonito flakes) – Dried smoked tuna used in Dashi Stock a base for many soups and sauces
- White Miso paste – This paste is actually light brown in color. I use this in soups, marinate, salad dressing, dips and casseroles. It has a milder flavor than the AKA Miso which is the red miso paste.
- Rice – Japanese Rice is a short grain variety. It is a bit sticky. Mostly serve plain (gohan), in Donburi (rice topped with meat), in Onigiris (Japanese Rice Ball), Ochazuke (rice with green tea), or Chahan (Fried Rice)
- Rice Vinegar – Rice vinegar has a milder and sweeter taste than White wine Vinegar. I use Marukan rice wine vinegar.
- Sesame Seeds – Toasted or ground used in sushi, grilled meats and soups
- Sesame Oil – I use sesame oil in anything I can put it on. I put it on stir fry, soups and marinades. I have a BIG can of Kadoya Pure Sesame Oil
- Dried Wakame – Dried seaweed used in salads and soups.
- Nori/ Nori Strips – used in sushi and as toppings in many Japanese dishes
- Wasabi Paste/Powder – used as dipping paste in sushi, sashimi and cold noodles.
- Karashi (Hot Mustard Paste) – Used as dipping paste in Katsu dishes and some noodle dishes.
- Sansho – A lemony spice used for Yakitori and Eel dishes like Unadon and Unagi Yanagawa (Eel with Egg)
- Rayu (Chili Oil) – This a Chili infused Sesame oil used as a condiment.