Japanese food and cooking evolved influenced mostly by the country's particular geography. Meat does not make a large contribution to Japan's culinary history; fish, seaweed, rice, and soy do.
Ingredients for Japanese recipes
The products of the ocean - fish and seaweed - and soy - particularly as soy sauce, miso, and a couple of other unusual products - characterize the flavors of Japanese cooking. As a matter of fact, the basic Japanese stock, dashi, is made with kelp and shaved dried tuna. Dashi is quick and easy to prepare. This stock is the basis for a myriad dishes and its aroma lingers in every Japanese kitchen. Dishes prepared with dashi frequently count on soy sauce as a finishing touch.
Dried bonito flakes - Thin slivers from a dried fish in the tuna family. You will find them in packages of different weights; buy withouth worrying as they are almost everlasting and their welcoming smell will greet you when opening the pantry. Dried tuna flakes are used almost exclusively for dashi, the basic Japanese stock contributing to many Japanese recipes.
Dried shiitake mushrooms - Wholly convenient in many Eastern Asian cuisines.
Miso - A paste made by fermenting soy beans, rice or barley with the koji mold. You will find it as a paste, thick sauce or powdered.Mix with dashi soup stock to make misho soup.
Panko bread crumbs - Considered the best packaged bread crumbs. It is easy to become addicted and use them as a matter of fact, regardless from the cuisine.
Preserved plums - Known as umeboshi.
Rice - Staple in Japanese cooking. Be sure to have the short grain variety imprescindible for sushi.
Rice vinegar, mirin - Perfect for marinades Japanese style and you will find it also good for general cooking and great for light vinaigrettes and other dressings.
Sake - Served with many meals and used in cooking. Not bad to drink.
Seaweed - Especially kombu - kelp - and nori - laver - imprescindible to prepare dashi and seaweed salads. Easy to find dried at the grocery store -re-hydrated before using them.
Sesame oil - A dark, roasted oil. This is one is used often not only in Japanese, but many East Asian recipes as well.
Sesame seeds - Better whole to toast or grind when needed. Ready toasted sesame seeds, ground or whole, are available.
Soy sauce or shoyu - Look for a sauce with no more than water, soy, wheat, salt, and a culture in thelist of ingredients. Any other additive is unnecesary and ould impair the flavor.