If you love Japanese food, you no doubt know all about the many great dishes that make it one of the top cuisines in the world. From the ever popular California roll, the first taste of sushi for many, to yakisoba, the food sold at local sushi bars to hibachi grills has become a staple, both in the United States and elsewhere.
Just like any other food-loving culture, the Japanese have come up with a number of special condiments that help elevate the food sold at the fine sushi restaurants of the world right down to the street vendors selling food on a stick. If you’re like many, you might not know how to use these condiments properly, both to avoid ruining the delicate flavors the good sushi restaurants nearby offer and any other dish. Here are just a few of the most popular Japanese condiments and how to use them.
Four Delicious Condiments You’re Likely to Encounter on a Night out for Japanese Cuisine
- Tamari Soy Sauce
- The Green Hell That is Wasabi
- Spicy, Savory Shichimi Togarashi
As BuzzFeed writes, you’ll see Tamari, otherwise known as dark soy sauce, everywhere from fine sushi restaurants to home kitchens. With a stronger, saltier flavor than its more commonly used cousin, Tamari is popular for use in soups and marinades, particularly when heavier flavors, like those in fatty fish, like salmon, need to be cut. Use this sparingly to bring out the flavors of vegetables or heavier meats.
Before we go any further, it’s worth pointing out that this condiment is, indeed, just called “sauce.” It’s effectively a modified version of Worcestershire sauce. As the popular Japanese culture blog They Call Me an Egg details, sauce is used on steamed vegetables, like asparagus, or fresh cut vegetables, like cabbage, to bring a sour, slightly salty flavor to the meal. The thicker versions are also popular as a covering for okonomiyaki, the ever popular savory pancake.
Wasabi is a seemingly ubiquitous condiment, even at fine sushi restaurants; however, as Japan Trend Ranking suggests, it shouldn’t just be thrown into a puddle of soy sauce and slathered over every piece of sushi, not unless you want to insult the chef who worked so hard to perfect that food for you. Instead, save your wasabi as a quick way to spice up cold soba noodles and sashimi. The acerbic punch can be just the thing to elevate those flavors.
Shichimi togarashi, a seven spice mixture of different peppers and sesame seeds, is another condiment you’ll regularly find at Japanese restaurants and in home kitchens. It makes for a great addition to certain types of ramen, working especially well to bring some brightness to hot soba soup. Of course, if you’re just looking for something simple, it will add some pop to a bowl of white rice, too.
Have you spent any time in Japan? What condiments or accoutrements did you find to be popular at the local sushi restaurants? Share some of your culinary adventures with us in the comment section below. Learn more at this link.