ISSUE 13 Washoku
Japanese Food Culture and Cuisine
Kikkoman’s Kitchen Page
50 California Street, Suite 3600
San Francisco, CA 94111
for culinary insiders
WAS H OKU
Working at Kikkoman over the years, I’ve developed countless
recipes that show people how easy it is to fit our Japaneseinspired products into Western cooking. Meanwhile, Japanese
cooking is at an all-time high in popularity, because it’s
flavorful, healthy, seasonal and often surprisingly simple to
prepare. So we decided it was time to look eastward and
dedicate a whole issue of K magazine to the foods and flavors
My favorite Japanese food is tonkatsu, the crispiest pork chop
ever. Panko breadcrumbs are the secret. And they’re also what
make korokke so light and crunchy. I first tasted these little
mashed-potato croquettes at a restaurant in San Francisco,
and they made me instantly homesick for a good old New York
potato knish! I loved them so much, I had to work up a recipe,
which you’ll find at the back of this issue.
I love how a few perfect Japanese ingredients, like panko, soy
sauce and rice vinegar, can take just about any dish to a whole
new level of deliciousness. Want instant umami? Mix soy sauce
and butter. It works wonders on green veggies or rice. Throw in
some sesame seeds and serve it with steak, salmon or chicken.
You get the idea.
Whether you want to cook an authentic Japanese meal or just
apply a few flavors, ingredients and principles here and there,
you’ll find plenty of inspiration in this issue. It’s all about simple
ways to experience the light, fresh beauty of one of the world’s
original “slow food” cuisines. And in these fast-paced times,
who can argue with that?
As the pace of the world speeds up, it’s no surprise that we’re
all looking for ways to slow down. And that goes a long way
toward explaining the growing interest in Japanese cooking.
After all, it’s a cuisine that’s all about tradition, taking time
and appreciating the natural beauty and flavor of food.
In fact, last year, the United Nations Educational, Scientific
and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) designated washoku,
traditional Japanese cuisine, as an intangible element of
Japan’s cultural heritage. Steeped in seasonality, simplicity
and a subtle balance of elements, washoku fits perfectly
among UNESCO’s other treasures, which include the
Mediterranean diet, along with other Japanese contributions,
like Kabuki drama.
We applaud UNESCO’s call—but then, we’re biased.
After all, soy sauce is the foundation of the Japanese kitchen,
and Kikkoman founded Japan’s first commercial soy sauce
brewery almost 400 years ago. So we take pride in having
given washoku some of its unique flavor. Like washoku,
our traditional brewing process is about letting nature take
its time. An old Japanese saying expresses our philosophy
perfectly: isogaba marawe—“make haste slowly.”
Chef Helen Roberts, CCP
Manager of Culinary Development
and Public Relations
F E AT U R E S
Washoku: Japan’s Edible Art
The Washoku Way
Cooking with an Artist’s Palate
The Story of Soy Sauce
A Familiar Bottle. A Timeless Design.
Stocking Your “Ja-Pantry”:
Sauces and Condiments
Seasonings, Herbs and Spices
The Japanese Garden
Yakitori (Chicken and Vegetables)
Seafood and Vegetable Tempura 9
Korokke (Deep-Fried Mashed-Potato Balls) 9
5 P R O D U C T S P OT L I G H T
Kikkoman Preservative Free
In Japanese, kikko means “tortoise shell” and
man means “ten thousand.” The tortoise is
a Japanese symbol of steady progress and
longevity. The centuries-old Kikkoman logo is
a hexagon representing the tortoise shell, with the character
for “ten thousand” at its center—a fitting symbol for one of
the world’s oldest “slow food” brands.
THE WASHOKU WAY
IT’S ALL IN THE BALANCE
Though the concept of washoku may seem foreign, its core principles are as
familiar as good taste itself. Elizabeth Andoh, author of Washoku: Recipes
from the Japanese Home Kitchen, puts it nicely, calling washoku “a culinary
philosophy and a set of practical guidelines for preparing food.” It’s that
simple. Follow these guidelines, and you’ll soon be living the washoku way.
Let ingredients speak for themselves:
With its mountains, seas, forests and fields,
Japan yields a bounty of regional foods that naturally
reflect their origins. Let them. Start with the best
natural ingredients you can get your hands on—and
then handle them with respect. Washoku experts know
that with great raw materials, less really is more.
Celebrate the seasons: Eating seasonally may be au courant,
but it’s always been the washoku way. Traditional Japanese cooking
celebrates time’s ebb and flow, exalting each ingredient at its
peak ripeness. Even garnishes pay homage to the calendar,
carved to resemble spring blossoms or autumn leaves. Washoku
is interwoven with holidays, festivals and annual events where
generations gather to share foods and customs that bind past,
present and future deliciously.
Balance flavor with health: There’s a reason why the Japanese
are legendarily long-lived, and the nutritional balance of washoku
is part of it. Japanese diets are inherently healthful, and the
engaging interplay of flavors—including skillful use of umami—
means they’re inherently satiating as well.
COOKING WITH AN ARTIST’S PALATE
COLOR, FLAVOR, TEXTURE
A washoku meal satisfies more than just the palate. Like the best forms of art,
washoku appeals to all the senses, balancing flavors, colors and textures. Follow
these tips to craft your own multisensory masterpiece:
Cook the rainbow: Current nutritional guidelines suggest eating a full spectrum
of colorful fruits and vegetables for better health—a centuries-old principle of
washoku. The contrasting colors of red adzuki beans, green seaweed, yellow
squashes, even white tofu and black soy sauce, guarantee a feast for the eyes,
as well as a healthy balance of nutrients for the body.
Master umami: When it comes to good taste, sweet, sour, salty and bitter
are only the start. Washoku cooking deploys those basic tastes plus spicy and
umami. Umami in particular—the “fifth flavor” of subtle, savory deliciousness—
is an essential quality of Japanese cooking, and you’ll find it in all kinds of
ingredients, from traditionally brewed soy sauce to parmesan, tomatoes and
Think texturally: How a food feels in the mouth is key to how we perceive its
flavor. A single washoku meal will incorporate many cooking methods—frying,
steaming, grilling, boiling, pickling, even no cooking at all (as with sushi and
sashimi)—to create the textural diversity our palates crave.
THE STORY OF SOY SAUCE
Before soy sauce became the foundation of the Japanese kitchen, it was an
import from China—a condiment created there more than 2,500 years ago as
a way for vegetarian Buddhists to add savory, meaty flavor to their foods.
Legend has it that a Japanese Zen priest encountered soy sauce’s early
ancestor while studying in China and brought the concept back with him to
Japan. There, he began making the salty fermented-soybean paste himself,
and once he started sharing it with others, it became a hit in short order.
Over time, the recipe evolved to include wheat in equal proportion to the
soybeans, and by the 1600s, a version resembling the naturally brewed soy
sauce of today was available. That version was likely made by Kikkoman’s
founding families, who established Japan’s first soy-sauce production facility in
the town of Noda, not far from modern-day Tokyo, in the seventeenth century.
All these years later, we’re still at it. Descendants of those founding families
continue to steer the Kikkoman ship today, making it not only one of the
world’s longest-operating companies, but living proof that dedication to
tradition and quality never goes out of style.
A FAMILIAR BOTTLE. A TIMELESS DESIGN.
The classic bell-shaped Kikkoman soy-sauce dispenser is so familiar that you’ll
find it everywhere from Japanese kitchens to your local Chinese restaurant.
It’s even been given a place of honor in the Smithsonian Museum’s design
collection. Created by Kenji Ekuan, chairman of the GK Design Group, the bottle
has a touching story, best told in Ekuan-san’s own words:
My family was from Hiroshima. When I
was a first-year college student, I saw the
ashes and the devastation there. The absence
of things that were once there was unnatural. I
started to long for the existence of things. Then
and there, I decided I wanted to become a designer.
Industrial design is something you do for
others. Before 1958, people would have to keep
a huge bottle of soy sauce under their sink.
I remember seeing my poor old mother
struggling with it. Those bottles were heavy
and splattered a lot. I thought if they put it
into smaller bottles at the source, it would
be much easier for people.
The dispenser is in the shape of a water
drop, and because of this shape, the drip
doesn’t trickle down. It doesn’t make
a mess. It ends up with this neat
design very naturally. That’s how
good design happens.
The meaning of washoku is as simple as the sum of its parts.
Wa means “harmony,” and shoku is the word for “food.”
Food as harmony. That’s the washoku way.
A well-stocked pantry is central to washoku cooking. Fortunately,
mainstream supermarkets are increasingly stocking the essential staples
of Japanese cooking. So grab your grocery lists and let’s go shopping!
Rice – The cornerstone of the Japanese diet, rice is common throughout
washoku cuisine, from short-grain polished rice to fiber-rich brown rice, sticky
glutinous rice, seasoned sushi rice, rice crackers and sweet rice cakes.
Noodles – The Japanese have mastered the art of making noodles, and their
mastery comes through in chubby, wheat-based udon noodles, nutty-tasting
buckwheat soba, delicate somen—the “angel hair” of Japan—and ubiquitous ramen.
Panko – What would tonkatsu—Japan’s irresistibly crispy breaded pork
cutlets—be without panko? These airy breadcrumbs are made from crustless
white bread and flaked, rather than ground, for extra crunch. They absorb less
grease than typical breadcrumbs during frying, producing especially light results.
Adzuki beans – Japanese cooks have a subtle way with sweets, using
ingredients like red, chestnut-flavored adzuki beans in everything from pastries to
candy. Cooked down to a paste with sugar, they’re classic
fillings in mochi cakes and the sweet rolls called anpan.
In a pinch: Can’t find adzuki beans?
Substitute an equal amount of pinto or red beans.
SAUCES AND CONDIMENTS
Naturally brewed soy sauce – If rice is the essential Japanese
ingredient, naturally brewed soy sauce is the essential flavoring agent. The
best-quality sauces are fermented from a mix of soybeans, wheat, water and
salt and are dark in color and rich in umami.
Rice vinegar – Milder and sweeter than most vinegars, rice vinegar isn’t
just critical to giving sushi rice its texture and flavor; it also lends light acidity to
everything from soups and salad dressings to dipping sauces.
Ponzu – Once little known in the States, this citrus-seasoned soy sauce is one
ingredient that Japanese cooks couldn’t keep bottled up. Now you can find it
in mainstream supermarkets, as well as in decidedly un-Japanese recipes like
sizzling ponzu fajitas.
Dashi – Japan’s essential broth, dashi is traditionally made from bonito fish
flakes and the dried sea kelp kombu—though cooks don’t shy from using
instant dashi powder to save time. Like soy sauce, dashi delivers umami
goodness to soups, sauces and dressings.
In a pinch: When dashi is unavailable, substitute driedmushroom soaking liquid, or even regular vegetable stock
seasoned with a splash of soy sauce.
SEASONINGS, HERBS AND SPICES
Shichimi togarashi – While washoku isn’t characteristically spicy, this
Japanese seasoning blend of red chili peppers, sansho pepper, roasted citrus
peel, sesame seeds, ginger, hemp seed and nori (dried seaweed) flakes adds
noticeable warmth to soups, noodles and dips.
Goma – You may know goma as sesame seeds, and you may know them in
their white or black varieties. Japanese cooks use them whole and ground for
delicate flavor and eye appeal. More than just a garnish, toasted goma have a
Wasabi – Nothing compares to fresh wasabi—Japanese horseradish—for its
sinus-clearing pungency. But wasabi powders and pastes work just as well, whether
perking up a dip’s flavor or helping raw fish stick to rice in classic nigiri sushi.
Shiso – If you’ve ever wondered about the jagged green leaves garnishing
the sushi platters at your favorite Japanese restaurant, introduce yourself to shiso, or perilla, leaf. With a peppery, refreshing
flavor like no other, it’s a real Japanese original.
In a pinch: Nothing compares to shiso, but
when it’s hard to find, substitute fresh mint.
Tofu – Neutral in flavor and color, tofu—fermented soybean curd—is the
blank canvas of the washoku kitchen, taking on whatever flavor you apply to
it. Firm tofu is best for stir-frying or grilling, while silken-textured soft tofu
virtually melts into soups and casseroles.
Raw fish – The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) doesn’t define “sushigrade fish,” but when you see the designation at a store, it usually means
you’re getting the best quality a market has to offer—often flash-frozen at
sea to preserve texture and kill parasites.
Tobiko and ikura – Delicate flying-fish roe (tobiko) and larger salmon roe
(ikura) are textural and the caviar of Japan, bringing color and a burst of
marine brininess to sushi and sashimi.
Wagyu beef – Wagyu beef is highly marbled and rich
in flavor and tenderness. Ranchers traditionally raise the
cattle under lavish conditions—regular massages; beer
in the troughs—to promote a lip-smacking larding of
In a pinch: Domestic Wagyu-style beef is increasingly available,
but prime or choice cuts make affordable alternatives.
THE JAPANESE GARDEN
You don’t have to nag Japanese cooks to eat their vegetables—or their fruits,
for that matter. Making the most of the plant kingdom is par for the course in
washoku cuisine. Here are some of the Japanese garden’s greatest hits:
Daikon radish: The pungent, peppery root vegetable is a staple of Japanese
Edamame: These tender green soybeans, served in the pod, pack protein,
plus a nutty taste.
Scallions: These easy-to-grow green onions stand out in soups, as well as
sprinkled over teriyaki.
Seaweeds: From nori to wakame to kombu, marine greens give washoku
flavor, texture and nutrition.
There was a time when dining on raw fish was something you did on a dare, not
on a date. Nowadays, practically every neighborhood grocery has its own friendly
sushi chef. Here are some fun facts to share with friends and family the next
time you’re surrendering to those sushi cravings.
• Believe it or not, the word sushi says nothing about raw fish. Su means
“vinegar,” and shi comes from meshi, a Japanese term for cooked rice. Over
time, sushi’s meaning has grown to encompass not just the vinegared rice at the
base but the raw fish on top, too.
• Even so, the fish in sushi doesn’t have to be raw. In fact, it doesn’t even have to be
fish. From boiled shrimp to the grilled freshwater eel called unagi, or from cucumbers
to avocado and baked tofu, anything’s fair game in the 21st-century sushi kitchen.
• Can’t tell your maki from your nigiri? Here’s the scoop: Maki sushi refers to
nori-wrapped rolls, like California roll. A close relative is the larger, cone-shaped
temaki sushi, which is also called a hand roll. Nigiri sushi is the familiar block of
rice topped with a slice of raw fish. Less familiar are the fried tofu pouches filled
with rice called inari sushi. And don’t forget chirashi sushi: a bowlful of sushi
rice topped with a rainbow of raw fish.
• Chopsticks or fingers? Aficionados will always debate the topic, but you’ll fit in
just fine if you go manual, lightly grasping your nigiri, inverting it and dipping it
gently—fish side down—into a ramekin of soy sauce. Place the sushi on your
tongue, fish side down, so the first things your tongue tastes are fish and soy
sauce, and then eat the whole piece in a single bite. Dipping the fish side, rather
than the rice side, keeps the sushi from absorbing too much soy sauce and from
• Mixing wasabi or pickled ginger with the soy sauce that’s served with sushi is
not approved of in Japan. To truly appreciate the perfect balance of flavors, a
simple dip in soy sauce is all you need. Eat pieces of the ginger between pieces
of sushi to cleanse your palate.
Kikkoman Preservative Free Orange Sauce
We all know that good (tasting) things come to those who wait. But
when schedules tighten and mealtime rolls around, everyone needs a
shortcut to lean on. That’s why no pantry is complete without a bottle of
delicious new Kikkoman Preservative Free Orange Sauce inside.
This sweet, tangy, umami-rich sauce is a real jack-of-all-trades, turning
restaurant classics like orange chicken into quick and tasty weeknight
meal. Made with naturally brewed Kikkoman Soy Sauce, real orange
juice concentrate, a splash of vinegar and a touch of
garlic and onion, it balances the best of all flavors, and
its profile fits just about any ingredient you pair it with,
from mixed veggies and noodles to chicken wings,
shrimp, even ground beef (add a touch to meatloaf; you
won’t regret it). Stir a little Kikkoman Preservative Free
Orange Sauce into a vinaigrette to give it a fresh Asian
flavor. And if you’re laying out a spread of finger foods or fried
appetizers, open a bottle, and your dip is done.
In fact, thanks to light thickening with cornstarch, this
hardworking condiment has the staying power to cling to
grilled and skewered meats and vegetables. If you’re looking for
a creative twist on teriyaki, mix a little Kikkoman Preservative
Free Orange Sauce with your pick of Kikkoman’s Teriyaki Sauce
types, and you’ll taste this Japanese favorite in a whole new,
citrusy light. You’ll be building great-tasting traditions in no time.
MAKING NOODLES YOUR OWN WAY
Ramen is serious stuff, not only in Japan, where everyone from salarymen to
students enjoys the noodles around the clock, but increasingly in the States,
too, where chowhounds nudge the pursuit of the perfect bowl into the realm of
competitive sport, as ramen shops proliferate all across the nation.
What makes ramen so appealing—besides its deliciousness—is that it knows no
rules. Pork broth or veg, duck egg or chicken, spicy or mild, tofu or meatballs—
it’s all good when you pour it into a bowl with those curly yellow noodles.
So we asked you, our Facebook friends, how you put your personal stamp on
ramen, whether by adding ketchup, eating it for breakfast or ditching the soup
altogether and stir-frying it like chow mein.
Check out our Facebook page at Facebook.com/KikkomansKitchen. And if you’ve
got some more creative noodling to share, tell us. We’re still listening!
for culinary insiders
K Magazine is a journal of tastes, techniques and trends for food enthusiasts,
published twice a year by KIKKOMAN SALES USA, INC.
KIKKOMAN SALES USA, INC.
50 California Street, Suite 3600
San Francisco, CA 94111
©2015 KIKKOMAN SALES USA, INC.
for culinary insiders
(CHICKEN AND VEGETABLES)
for culinary insiders
SEAFOOD AND VEGETABLE TEMPURA
1 cup Kikkoman Tempura Batter Mix
¾ cup ice-cold water
1 pound raw extra-large shrimp (16–20 count)
1 large green bell pepper
1 medium sweet potato
½ pound green beans
1¼ cups Kikkoman Teriyaki Baste & Glaze
2 cloves garlic, crushed
1 piece fresh ginger root, grated (4-inch)
1 pound boneless, skinless chicken thighs, cubed
6 leeks, cut into ½-inch pieces
Cover skewers with water and soak at least 30 minutes. In a medium bowl,
mix together the Teriyaki Baste & Glaze, garlic and ginger (reserve ¼ cup of
marinade). Add chicken to the bowl, toss and let marinate in the refrigerator
for at least 30 minutes.
Preheat the oven broiler. Thread previously soaked wooden skewers and
thread alternately with 2 pieces of chicken and 2 pieces of leeks. Place on
a cookie sheet lined with aluminum foil and brush with reserved marinade.
Broil for 5 minutes on each side, until chicken is cooked through.
Pour oil at least 2 inches deep into an electric deep fryer or wok. Heat oil to
350°F. In a small bowl, whisk together batter, mix and water until blended.
Pat seafood and vegetables dry with a paper towel. Cook in small batches
of 4–5 pieces, dipping one piece at a time into batter and carefully sliding
into hot oil. Deep-fry 2–4 minutes until cooked and light golden brown,
turning pieces over once. Remove; drain on paper towels. Skim off cooked
batter pieces from oil between batches. Serve immediately with Kikkoman
Tempura Dipping Sauce, Kikkoman Ponzu Sauce or sea salt.
Makes 6 servings
for culinary insiders
¾ cup Kikkoman Teriyaki Sauce
2 tablespoons brown sugar, packed
1 teaspoon grated fresh ginger root
4 6-ounce salmon fillets
Combine all ingredients. Pour mixture over fish in a large, sealable bag.
Marinate for 30 minutes, turning bag over once. Grill or bake until done.
*Will accommodate up to 4 fish steaks (halibut, mahi mahi, salmon,
striped bass or tuna)
for culinary insiders
(DEEP-FRIED MASHED-POTATO BALLS)
6 large potatoes
1 tablespoon vegetable oil,
plus enough to deep-fry
1 medium onion, chopped
½ pound ground beef
¼ cup Kikkoman soy sauce
½ cup flour
2 eggs, beaten
2 cups Kikkoman Panko
Peel and cube potatoes before boiling until soft, then drain and mash.
While potatoes are cooking, add 1 tablespoon of vegetable oil in a skillet
over medium heat, add the onion and cook until it is translucent, about
3–5 minutes. Add in the ground beef, stirring to combine with the onion,
and cook the beef until it is done. Add soy sauce to the meat-and-onion
mixture and set aside. Mix mashed potatoes and onion and beef in a
bowl, season to taste with salt and pepper and let cool. Make oval-shaped
patties. Coat each piece with flour. Dip in beaten egg and coat with panko,
pressing the patties into the panko to make it stick. Deep-fry in about350ºF oil until browned, drain on paper towels and serve.
Makes 6 servings