Japanese cuisine has not only made its way to Filipinos' hearts and stomachs, but is also fast becoming a mainstay in our every day lives; more and more Filipinos now want to integrate Japanese cooking in their own households. So during the recent "Taste of Japan in Manila" event organized by the Japanese embassy, Machiko Chiba, a renowned Japanese chef, author, and cooking advisor who patented her very own cooking pot called the Cook Zen, an innovative pot that resembles a pressure cooker but cooks in an easier and more efficient way, shared an 'it' list that you must take to heart if you're one of those who want to cook the Japanese way all the time--the ingredients that are always present in a Japanese kitchen, and should be in yours:
1. Soy sauce. Japanese cuisine will not be complete without fermented ingredients, and shoyu or soy sauce is one of them. Most popular brand is Kikkoman and Chef Machiko personally uses it in her cooking.
2. Vinegar. Komezu (rice vinegar), or simply su (vinegar) is another fermented ingredient that the Japanese commonly use in their dishes like sushi, pickles, and is also used for marinating fish and meat to minimize strong odor.
3. Kelp. According to Chef Machiko, this kind of seaweed is a staple in making Dashi. Dashi is basically a stock or broth used as base form for noodle soup and serves as flavoring of many Japanese dishes.
4. Wasabi. This is probably the most popular of all the Japanese condiments. Also called Japanese Horseradish, wasabi is basically a family plant of cabbage and its stems are processed to create a pungent green paste which we normally see on the side of a sushi plate.
5. Yuzu. This citrus fruit which resembles a grapefruit, but with uneven green or yellow skin, is used in making desserts like marmalades and cakes, sauces, liquor, and vinegar. It can also be used as garnish and seasoning instead of lemon.
6. Mirin. Similar to sake but with lower alcohol content, mirin is usually used to substitute soy sauce and sugar and is helpful in removing that fishy smell.
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