IT WOULD be very hard to replicate most of the creations of Chef Koyama in a British home; even if you were to buy a a set of four hocho knives (at £120 a time) it might be some years, even under expert tuition, before you could start to work his magic. However, not all Japanese knives (and Chinese wide-bladed chopping knives) cost a fortune, and they repay experimentation in the kitchen. It would also be hard to replicate many of the ingredients used by a Japanese Kaiseki chef. However, here is a short vocabulary of basic kitchen ingredients available in most Japanese stores - and Chinese ones, too.

DAIKON Giant white radish (also known as mouli). Peeled and grated into long threads, it is almost an essential garnish for thinly sliced raw fish, along with the classic ingredients soy sauce and wasabi.

SOY SAUCE (SHOYU) The predominant seasoning in all Japanese cooking, the liquid resulting from fermenting soy beans and roasted wheat. Kikkoman is the big Japanese name - and big it really is, since the company now exports to 94 countries. A consistent product, fermented for six months by traditional methods, aided more than somewhat by super-modern technology.

WASABI A kind of green horseradish usually available as a paste in tubes or in powder form like mustard. A small blob, no bigger than a thumbnail, is served to tear-jerking effect with raw fish.

SAKE A rice wine. Recipe books often give it as an alternative to dry sherry, but sake's flavour is milder.

MIRIN A sweet yellow rice wine used only in cooking.

RICE VINEGAR Gentle and sweet, more like balsamic vinegar.

BAMBOO SHOOTS A crunchy addition to any Japanese or Chinese dish. Available in tins.

LOTUS ROOT A crunchy, visually appealing vegetable used in many dishes. It is the root of a type of water lily. Sliced into rounds it gives the appearance of the chamber of a six-shooter (it actually has seven, not six holes).

TEA Green tea is drunk at any time, especially with a meal, and is like nothing we know in the UK. It is made from green, unfermented leaves, and infused with hot, not boiling, water. It is not left to steep. The finest grade, a powder, is used in the tea ceremony.

PICKLES Every meal ends with rice, eaten plain, with an assortment of pickled vegetables. We're not talking of mustard pickles or astringent English pickled onions but a wide range of virtually instant, home-made pickles with infinite flavours and textures.

BONITO FLAKES Dried bonito (a kind of tuna) which is infused to make stock. Some Japanese families buy it by the small block, as wein the West might buy parmesan cheese, and grate it as needed. It is also bought loose in packets.

KOMBU This is a dried seaweed (we know it as kelp) which is cooked with bonito and soy sauce to make stock, giving it a smoky, bitter note. Other seaweeds are very popular in Japan, especially the expensive nori (known as "laver" in Wales) which is processed, dried, and then pressed into squares as thin as black tissue paper. It is used to wrap some types of sushi rice roll, and is also an essential flavouring in many Japanese savoury biscuits.

DASHI Many Japanese foods, including the everyday dish of miso soup, depend on a stock called dashi. It is made with three of the ingredients mentioned above - soy sauce, kombu (a dried seaweed), and dried bonito flakes. Full-strength dashi is called primary stock, and is strained and used for soup. When the dregs are boiled up again, it is called secondary stock and is used as a cooking medium for meat, fish or vegetables.


For use in soups

2 pints/1.2 litres water

6in length of dried kombu

12oz/15g dried bonito flakes

Heat the water with the kombu seaweed in it, removing before the water boils (kombu releases bitter flavours the longer it is cooked). Skim. Bring the water to the boil and then add the bonito flakes. Remove from heat immediately. When the bonito flakes have settled at the bottom of the pan, strain. Reserve the kombu and bonito flakes to be boiled up again for secondary stock.

MISO A salty, yeasty paste made from fermented soy beans, varying in colour and strength according to age. Miso soup is made by dissolving a blob in hot dashi stock (see above), adding garnishes to taste, prawns, thinly shaved pieces of pork, some chopped spring onions, some grated ginger and so on.


Serves 4-6

2 pints dashi stock (above)

4oz red miso paste

optional garnishes:

1 spring onion, sliced into thin rounds

1in piece of daikon radish, cut into matchstick pieces, blanched in boiling water, mopped dry

6oz tofu, cut into dice

12 teaspoon wasabi or mustard made into paste

Heat up the dashi stock. Rub the miso paste into it through a sieve. When it comes to simmering point, serve the miso soup with garnishes.

Arts and Entertainment
Stewart Lee (Gavin Evans)


Arts and Entertainment
No half measures: ‘The Secret Life of the Pub’

Grace Dent on TV The Secret Life of the Pub is sexist, ageist and a breath of fresh air

Arts and Entertainment
Art on their sleeves: before downloads and streaming, enthusiasts used to flick through racks of albums in their local record shops
musicFor Lois Pryce, working in a record shop was a dream job - until the bean counters ruined it
Arts and Entertainment
Serial suspect: the property heir charged with first-degree murder, Robert Durst
TV review
Arts and Entertainment
Igarashi in her

Art Megumi Igarashi criticises Japan's 'backwards' attitude to women's sexual expression

Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Arts and Entertainment

ebooksNow available in paperback
Arts and Entertainment

Arts and Entertainment
It's all in the genes: John Simm working in tandem with David Threlfall in 'Code of a Killer'

TV review
Arts and Entertainment
Far Right and Proud: Reggies Yates' Extreme Russia

TV review
Arts and Entertainment
Kanye West was mobbed in Armenia after jumping into a lake

Arts and Entertainment
The show suffers from its own appeal, being so good as to create an appetite in its viewers that is difficult to sate in a ten episode series

Game of Thrones reviewFirst look at season five contains some spoilers
Arts and Entertainment
Judi Dench and Kevin Spacey on the Red Carpet for 2015's Olivier Awards

Ray Davies' Sunny Afternoon scoops the most awards

Arts and Entertainment
Proving his metal: Ross Poldark (played by Aidan Turner in the BBC series) epitomises the risk-taking spirit of 18th-century mine owners

Poldark review
Arts and Entertainment
Eddie Redmayne is reportedly favourite to play Newt Scamander in Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them

Arts and Entertainment
Tom Hardy stars in dystopian action thriller Mad Max: Fury Road

Arts and Entertainment
Josh, 22, made his first million from the game MinoMonsters

Grace Dent

Channel 4 show proves there's no app for happiness
Disgraced Top Gear presenter Jeremy Clarkson
Arts and Entertainment
Game face: Zoë Kravitz, Bruce Greenwood and Ethan Hawke in ‘Good Kill’

film review

Arts and Entertainment
Living like there’s no tomorrow: Jon Hamm as Don Draper in the final season of ‘Mad Men’

TV review

Arts and Entertainment
Yaphett Kotto with Julius W Harris and Jane Seymour in 1973 Bond movie Live and Let Die

Arts and Entertainment

Arts and Entertainment

  • Get to the point
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?

ES Rentals

    Independent Dating

    By clicking 'Search' you
    are agreeing to our
    Terms of Use.

    NHS struggling to monitor the safety and efficacy of its services outsourced to private providers

    Who's monitoring the outsourced NHS services?

    A report finds that private firms are not being properly assessed for their quality of care
    Zac Goldsmith: 'I'll trigger a by-election over Heathrow'

    Zac Goldsmith: 'I'll trigger a by-election over Heathrow'

    The Tory MP said he did not want to stand again unless his party's manifesto ruled out a third runway. But he's doing so. Watch this space
    How do Greek voters feel about Syriza's backtracking on its anti-austerity pledge?

    How do Greeks feel about Syriza?

    Five voters from different backgrounds tell us what they expect from Syriza's charismatic leader Alexis Tsipras
    From Iraq to Libya and Syria: The wars that come back to haunt us

    The wars that come back to haunt us

    David Cameron should not escape blame for his role in conflicts that are still raging, argues Patrick Cockburn
    Sam Baker and Lauren Laverne: Too busy to surf? Head to The Pool

    Too busy to surf? Head to The Pool

    A new website is trying to declutter the internet to help busy women. Holly Williams meets the founders
    Heston Blumenthal to cook up a spice odyssey for British astronaut manning the International Space Station

    UK's Major Tum to blast off on a spice odyssey

    Nothing but the best for British astronaut as chef Heston Blumenthal cooks up his rations
    John Harrison's 'longitude' clock sets new record - 300 years on

    ‘Longitude’ clock sets new record - 300 years on

    Greenwich horologists celebrate as it keeps to within a second of real time over a 100-day test
    Fears in the US of being outgunned in the vital propaganda wars by Russia, China - and even Isis - have prompted a rethink on overseas broadcasters

    Let the propaganda wars begin - again

    'Accurate, objective, comprehensive': that was Voice of America's creed, but now its masters want it to promote US policy, reports Rupert Cornwell
    Why Japan's incredible long-distance runners will never win the London Marathon

    Japan's incredible long-distance runners

    Every year, Japanese long-distance runners post some of the world's fastest times – yet, come next weekend, not a single elite competitor from the country will be at the London Marathon
    Why does Tom Drury remain the greatest writer you've never heard of?

    Tom Drury: The quiet American

    His debut was considered one of the finest novels of the past 50 years, and he is every bit the equal of his contemporaries, Jonathan Franzen, Dave Eggers and David Foster Wallace
    You should judge a person by how they peel a potato

    You should judge a person by how they peel a potato

    Dave Hax's domestic tips are reminiscent of George Orwell's tea routine. The world might need revolution, but we like to sweat the small stuff, says DJ Taylor
    Beige is back: The drab car colours of the 1970s are proving popular again

    Beige to the future

    Flares and flounce are back on catwalks but a revival in ’70s car paintjobs was a stack-heeled step too far – until now
    Bill Granger recipes: Our chef's dishes highlight the delicate essence of fresh cheeses

    Bill Granger cooks with fresh cheeses

    More delicate on the palate, milder, fresh cheeses can also be kinder to the waistline
    Aston Villa vs Liverpool: 'This FA Cup run has been wonderful,' says veteran Shay Given

    Shay Given: 'This FA Cup run has been wonderful'

    The Villa keeper has been overlooked for a long time and has unhappy memories of the national stadium – but he is savouring his chance to play at Wembley
    Timeless drama of Championship race in league of its own - Michael Calvin

    Michael Calvin's Last Word

    Timeless drama of Championship race in league of its own