Pantry Essentials for Japanese Home Cooking – Part 1

Collection of some pantry essentials for Japanese home cooking.

Japanese food has many specialised ingredients unique to the cuisine. Some ingredients are repeatedly used in my recipes. I thought it might be of help to you if I posted my Pantry Essentials for Japanese Home Cooking, explaining each item in detail with the brands I use and some photos.

If you have these in your cupboard, you’re well placed to cook delicious Japanese dishes. I tried to include all the items in the photo above plus some more in one post, but the post became too long. So today, I will post Part 1 of Pantry Essentials for Japanese Home Cooking. Part 2 will be posted next week.

The most fundamental Seasonings – SaShiSuSeSo

Apart from dashi stock, the most basic seasonings used in Japanese cooking are expressed as ‘SaShiSuSeSo’ (さしすせそ), which represents Sa (とう, sugar), Shio (お, salt), Su (, vinegar), Syōyu/Seiu (しょうゆ/いう, soy sauce), miso (み, miso). In old days, shyōyu was phonetically written as ‘せいう’ for the sound ‘shōyu‘.

The sequence of these letters also represents the order in which you add them when cooking dishes. Sugar does not penetrate into the ingredients as fast as others, so you add sugar first. Soy sauce and miso are the last ingredients so that you won’t lose the flavour of these ingredients.

Most basic seasonings used in Japanese home cooking - SaShiSuSeSo.

You might wonder why sake and mirin are not included in this list. They are classified as the seasonings that add a depth to the flavour. You will find more information about sake and mirin next week in Part 2 of my Pantry Essentials


Just like in other countries, there are many varieties of sugar used in Japan. But I listed only a few that …continue reading