Soy Source(Shoyu)

It is called “Shoyu” in Japanese. Soy source is made from fermed soy beans and one of the most important condiments for Japanese food. Basically two type of soy saurces are used for Japanese food.

dark soy saurce vs light soy saurce
1.Dark soy sauce(Koikuchi soy saurce)
This is the most popular soy saurce. If it is simply mentioned as “soy sauce” in the recipe, please use this soy source. It can be stored at room temperature.

2.Light soy sauce(Usukuchi soy saurce)
The color is thinner and the smell is mild compared to dark soy sauce. But this soy saurce is solter than dark one. It is used to make better use of cooking ingredients.

If you’ve cooked Japanese food many times, you might already have both type of soy saurce. Dark soy saurce may be available for sale in supermarkets and grocery stores but it might be difficult to find light soy saurce in your country. For beginner it is enough to have a dark soy saurce only.

one of the leading soy source for Japanese food:
Kikkoman Soy Sauce



Mirin is one of the essential condiments of Japanese food and used for Chicken Teriyaki, stewed meat and vegitables and various other dishes. It is a kind of rice wine (sake), but with a lower alcohol content and has a mild sweet flavor. If you want to good Japanese dishes it’s better to use “Hon-Mirin”(real mirin) rather than “Mirin-like condiment” or “Mirin-type condiment”.

Hon-Mirin(real mirin) vs Mirin-like condiment vs Mirin-type condiment
1.Hon-Mirin(real mirin)
Hon mirin contains 12.5%-14.5% alcohol and no salt.  It is made of  glutinous rice, rice koji, brewed alcohol or shochu.  It can be stored in a dark cool place. It prevents boil-off, tastes well, elegant and mellow sweetness, richness are added

Hon-Mirin available at amazon

Kokonoemirin Junzo Kawamoto mirin

Ohsawa Organic Genuine Mirin

2.Mirin-like condiment
Mirin like condiment is a mirin-flavored sauce. It contains less than 1% alcohol and less than 1% salt. 

3.Mirin-type condiment
Mirin like condiment is a mirin-flavored sauce. It contains 8-20% alcohol and less than 1% salt. 

Mirin-type condiment available at amazon

 Kikkoman – Aji-Mirin


Rice Vinegar(su)

It is vinegar made from fermented rice and slightly milder than most Western vinegars. Japanese rice vinegar is almost colorless and mellow sour taste. It can be used for various dishes.

Rice Vinegar available at amazon

Marukan Seasoned Gourmet Rice Vinegar

Nakano Natural Rice Vinegar


– Sake(Ryorishu)

Sake is made from rice and water and referred to in English as a type of rice wine. When it comes to using cooking sake in food, it will soften meats and fish and add health benefits. it adds amino acids giving a strong UMAMI flavour as well as loads of health benefits such as antioxidants.  Basically “Cooking Sake” is produced for cooking only and “Sake”(Regular Sake) is produced for drinking. Although many people use  “Cooking Sake” for cooking, using “Sake”(Regular Sake) make dishes better than using “Cooking Sake”.

Sake(Regular Sake) vs Cooking Sake
1.Sake(Regular Sake)
It’s alcohol level is at 15-16%. Sakeis made from rice, koji and water as the main ingredients. Since it is made for drinking purpose it doesn’t have zatsumi  and extra taste.

2.Cooking Sake
Cooking sake is a type of sake made especially for cooking. Cooking sake is added 2-3% salt to make it unfit for drinking. So, if you use cooking sake, you should consider how much you add salt into dishes.


– Salt(Shio)

It’s recommended to use natural salt rather than table salt. Further the narutal salt including many minerals is recommended to be used for any dish.


– Suger(Sato)

Johakuto white sugar(Johakuto) is the most popular sugar you see in the Japanese supermarket and most used for cooking. Although Johakuto is white sugar, it is slightly different from the white sugar that is sold as caster sugar in US and UK.

– Pepper(Kosho)

Black pepper is better than white pepper to cook Japanese food. You should grind it roughly and use its good scent when you cook.

– Miso

Miso is a traditional Japanese condiment produced by produced through fermentation of soybeans and rice and other ingredients .Miso is important as an ingredient in soups(Miso soup)  and for preserving foods. If it is the first time for you to buy miso, it’s recommended to buy “Shinshu Miwo” as first choice. Shinshu miso has Golden yellow to light brown color and one of the popular miso in Japan. Although there are a lot of type pf miso in Japan, if you want to make yourself master of cooking Japanese food it’s recommended to have “Shiro Miso(White Miso)” and “Aka Miso(Red Miso) as well.