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Bottled Sushi Ingredients

9 of 11 in Series: The Essentials of Making Sushi at Home

Many of the bottled ingredients used when making sushi are probably familiar to you. These bottled sushi ingredients keep, unopened and in a cool dark pantry, for many months. Refrigerate opened bottles of sushi ingredients, such as soy sauce or rice vinegar, so that they taste good and last longer:

  • Thick chili sauce: Even though chili sauce didn’t start out as a Japanese ingredient, sushi bars would have to close their doors if they ran out of it!

  • Mirin (sweet cooking sake): A slightly syrupy, sweet cooking sake (about 8 percent alcohol).

  • Plum wine: True Japanese plum wine is made with unripened plums, rock sugar, and a strong distilled spirit, making it more of a sweet, fruity liquor than a wine.

  • Ponzu sauce: Authentic ponzu sauce derives its unusual fragrance and zip from yuzu, a lemon-colored, tangerine-shaped citrus grown for its zest, not pulp.

  • Rice vinegar: Mild but full of flavor. In a pinch, apple cider vinegar is a good substitute for rice vinegar.

  • Sake (Japanese rice wine): You needn’t invest in expensive sake for cooking purposes, but do buy one that’s drinkable.

  • Sansho (Japanese pepper): The dried and ground pods of the prickly ash tree that create a fragrant, finely ground pale spice that’s more minty-citrusy or tangy than spicy hot.

  • Soy sauce: Soy sauce was introduced to the Japanese by the Chinese centuries ago. The Japanese took this fermented soy bean sauce and tweaked its taste to suite their palates.

  • Shichimi togarashi (seven-spice chili seasoning): Traditionally contains fresh chili flakes, black and white sesame seeds, poppy seeds, sansho, ao-nori, and Mandarin orange peel.

  • Dark sesame seed oil: The roasted, nutty fragrance of dark sesame seed oil is enough to make anyone hungry!

  • Spicy sesame seed oil (rayu): Rayu is basically dark sesame seed oil, heated up with chili.

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