The Essentials of a Japanese Pantry

According to Maki, a Japanese American these are the must-haves :

  • Medium grain rice ie “sushi rice”.
  • Japanese soy sauce. A not too expensive brand is Yamasa.
  • White miso (shiromiso).
  • Bonito flakes (katsuo bushi) to make dashi stock.
  • Konbu seaweed. Essential for making good dashi stock.
  • Sake.Many Japanese foods include sake as an ingredient.
  • Mirin – sweet fortified sake.
  • Rice vinegar
  • Dried shiitake mushrooms used a lot as a flavoring as well as an ingredient.
  • Sesame seeds. These are often used toasted and ground up, or whole as a condiment.


  • Dark sesame oil for flavoring many dishes.
  • Green tea leaves. Sencha is the standard green tea.
  • Non-Japanese dry or bottled ingredients that are used a lot in Japanese cooking: salt, sugar, Worcestershire sauce, mayonnaise, potato starch flour or cornstarch flour, white wheat flour.
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