The Mystery of Japanese "Sauce"

Bulldog sauce bottles

Miso, soy sauce, bonito flakes...these are the kinds of ingredients you'd expect to be used in Japanese recipes. But there's another ingredient that appears very often, and it's usually just called "sauce" or so-su (ソース). What is this "sauce" anyway?

Type:  feature Filed under:  japanese ingredients yohshoku

Scenes from the Shin Yokohama Ramen Museum (新横浜ラーメン博物館)

Did you know that ramen is considered to be one of the two main National Dishes of Japan?


A very simple creamy soup, made with a quintessentially Japanese spring vegetable, bamboo shoot or takenoko.

Japanese basics: Nanban sauce or vinegar (Nanbansu)


Three versions of a versatile Japanese sauce that can be used as a marinade, dipping sauce or dressing. It's called Nanban or "wild southern savage" sauce.

Type:  recipe Filed under:  basics japanese sauce yohshoku washoku


I finally made it to Taimeiken, an old time yoshoku restaurant in Nihonbashi, to indulge in the original Tampopo Omuraisu (rice omelette). Yes, that Tampopo.


(From the archives. A perfect leave-to-cook, warming dish for a cold evening! Originally published December 2008.)

Some dishes dazzle you with their prettiness. Others may look plain, but are just plainly delicious. This simple, filling yet healthy winter dish of cabbage layered with a meat and tofu stuffing and then poached in a flavorful liquid belongs to the latter group.


Continuing my _yohshoku_ mini-marathon, here's the infamous Japan-ized pasta dish called Napolitan or Naporitan. (Japanese doesn't have an L or R sound, which is why Japanese people often mix them up when speaking Western languages.) As far as I know, there's nothing remotely Neapolitan about Napolitan, except for the use of spaghetti. It is made with a creamy ketchup-based sauce, and has the salty-sweet flavors that Japanese people love.

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While I make Japanese style hamburgers all the time, I rarely make menchikatsu, its breaded and deep-fried cousin. I guess it's the breading and deep frying that deters me - it's a messy process, and I'm not sure it's worth the effort. So I made these ones for the blog! Fortunately they were consumed very eagerly.

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As promised, here is my recipe for making Japanese style hamburgers or hamburger steaks, one of the quintessential _yohshoku_ or Japanese Western-style dishes. They are called hanbaagu (though they are sometimes called hambaagaa, but that variation usually refers to the kind that comes sandwiched inside a bun) in Japan, and are very popular for lunch or dinner, and are eaten as a side dish to rice (okazu) in Japanese homes. In fancier restaurants that specialize in yohshoku, they might be eaten with a knife and fork, but at home they're eaten with chopsticks. Whenever Japanese food magazines have a poll about popular okazu, hamburgers are always in the top three, especially amongst kids.

They don't have much in common with the American style of hamburger, except for the fact that they both start off with ground meat. A Japanese hamburger has more in common with meatloaf, and a rather similar texture. They are similar to the old TV dinner standby, Salisbury steak, but I think a lot better.

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The New York Times has an article today about yohshoku_, Japanese-style western food. Long time readers of Just Hungry will know that I've been slowly introducing you all to yohshoku for some years now.

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