Everything You Need to Know About Japanese Seasonings
When one thinks of Japanese seasonings, you would be forgiven for not being able to name much more than Soy sauce. However, it’s fair to say that the range of Japanese flavours expands way past this most commonly known seasoning. The secret to some of Japans most celebrated dishes are its blend of ingredients and just the right amount of accompanied seasoning. Any dish that otherwise may seem bland, can be transformed into the vibrant dishes we all know and love by the addition of some secret spices and seasonings.
From sweet to sour, and bitter to hot, Japanese cuisine has an extensive spectrum of fruitful flavours and satisfying seasons, but what are they and how do they complement the dishes they are served with?
Made from soya beans, salt and Koji (which is made up of rice, barley, beans or wheat) this traditional seasoning is considered a staple within many Japanese dishes. Although the fermented soya bean mixture is originally a paste it can be transformed into a glaze through whisking, which adds a mild and sweet flavour to any dish. Some restaurants even add a touch of lime to the mix to lend a smoother texture to the glaze.
The thick paste-like substance is commonly used for spreads, as a sauce or as a soup stock for Udon and Ramen. It is also often added to fish such as salmon, or in a salad to marinade and enhance the current flavours. Miso can be added to cod to perfect a perfect Miso Black Cod dish, which is one of our customers favourites plates. We usually add this to our specials menu so be sure to take a look at this in the restaurant!
In our Sojin Ryorui, you will find the vegetarian tofu skewers to be glossed with a Miso glaze and sesame seeds, and the Miso Wakame soup our set menus will host all the above flavours.
Mirin/Sweet Rice Wine
This essential condiment is a key element of Japanese cuisine, and like Sake, is a rice wine. However, it has a lower alcohol content and a higher sugar content, giving it the sweet flavours the chefs love experimenting with.
There are generally three types of Mirin: Hon Mirin, Shio Mirin and Shin Mirin:
Hon Mirin is made through a huge forty to sixty-day mashing process and contains 14% alcohol, whereas Sho Mirin has only 1.5% alcohol. Shin Mirin contains even less alcohol with only 1% however it retains its same flavours.
Mirin is sometimes referred to as sweet cooking Sake, and was previously used to take any saltwater smells from fish and add a subtle hint of sweetness to dishes, improving aromas. It is generally now a main ingredient in Teriyaki and goes perfectly with pork and beef.
Rice Vinegar/ Su
Known by most Japanese chefs as Su, this liquid seasoning has several types ranging in flavours and colours.
A Komezu vinegar is a plain rice vinegar however a Awasezu vinegar is made from Sake, sugar and salt, and Kuruzo is a black vinegar made from rice, rich in amino acids and considered healthier for the body.
Rice vinegar is a key part of many other seasonings and condiments within the Japanese cuisine, such as Mayonnaise, Wafu dressing and Ponzu with some of the best Su’s being even being used as a dipping sauce for Sushi and a marinade for meat and fish. It is also a main flavour booster for stews and soups.
Sushi Rice Seasoning and Technique
When we visit our favourite Japanese restaurants, a rice dish is always on the plate, and as a dietary staple, knowing how to cook perfect rice is a huge step to becoming a Japanese cooking and cuisine guru.
The technique to perfect the flawless sushi seasoning rice is surprisingly complex, and more goes into it than meets the eye.
The rice for sushi needs to be mixed with sushi vinegar, which is made up of rice vinegar, salt and sugar. The amount of sushi vinegar which is added can vary according to taste, and every chef will do this differently, although to get the best out of the flavours the vinegar can be folded into the rice while it is still warm.
By using a fan while mixing the rice and vinegar together, the chef cools the rice whilst removing any excess moisture. Most expert sushi chefs will also use a wooden sushi bowl to create the rice (a Sushi Oke).
Wasabi is a divisive seasoning in Japanese cuisine and may be most well-known for its powerful taste. It is sometimes referred to as Japanese Horseradish and as many people may not know, it is a root vegetable, related more closely to the cabbage than the radish!
It is a spicy addition to any dish and is often compared to a hot chilli pepper or a strong mustard. When consumed, it’s safe to say that an intense sensation flows over your taste buds and senses!
Coming from the stem of the plant, it is found in a grated form, dried powder or a paste, and is a great compliment to Sushi, Soba and Sashimi.
Here at Sapporo we are proud to say that our highly experienced chefs have a plethora of knowledge when it comes to seasoning their dishes, and use many of the mentioned seasonings and more within their plates. They have been training for way over five years and know their herbs, spices and seasonings like the back of their hands.
When you book a table at Sapporo be sure to look out for which of these seasonings your personal chef will be adding into the mix!
Posted: Tuesday 5th September 2017
ID: 3611 - 1923