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Convenient Japanese Vocabulary For Your Trip (Cooking Techniques Edition)

If you go to a restaurant where they only speak Japanese, won't you be troubled if you don't understand the menu? Here are some vocabulary words regarding cooking techniques that you can simply point to at a restaurant and they'll understand! If you combine it with phrases, you'll be able to have a smooth conversation. Use these Japanese words to place your order!

1. To stew(煮る/niru)

"Niru" means to stew until the ingredients become soft. Dishes that are stewed for a very long time so the flavors seep in are called "nikomu" (煮込む). Other dishes made using this technique are "nimono" (煮物) stews, "nizakana" (煮魚), stewed fish, and "chikuzenni" (筑前煮), stewed chicken and root vegetables. There are many dishes with the kanji 煮 for stew in their names.

2. To grill/bake(焼く/yaku)

In Japanese, the word "yaku" (焼く) is used to cover the techniques of toasting, baking, grilling, sauteing, and roasting. There are other words that use the kanji as well, such as "jikabiyaki" (直火焼き) for broiling food and "teppanyaki" (鉄板焼) for grilling on a flat hibachi grill. Yakitori (焼き鳥), a dish often seen on izakaya menus, is grilled chicken skewers.

3. To steam(蒸す/musu)

Steaming is called "musu" (蒸す). The most famous dish to use this technique is chawanmushi (茶碗蒸し). Eggs are added to seasoned broth, chicken, gingko, shiitake mushrooms, and other ingredients, and then steamed. Other famous dishes are "dobinmushi" (土瓶蒸し), in which matsutake mushrooms, conger eel, and other ingredients are placed in an earthenware pot and steamed, and "sakamushi" (酒蒸し), in which white-fleshed fish and shellfish have sake sprinkled over them before steaming. Another steam-related word is "seiromushi" (せいろ蒸し), in which ingredients are steamed using tools made of bamboo or wood.

4. To stir-fry(炒める/itameru)

"Itameru" (炒める) refers to stir-frying. While "itameru" means to cook something on high heat over a short period of time, "iru" (炒る) is to cook something slowly on low heat. Yakisoba (焼きそば) uses the kanji for "yaku," but it's actually a stir-fried dish with Chinese noodles, meat, and vegetables. Also, stir-fried ingredients that are then stewed are called "itameni" (炒め煮).

5. To fry(揚げる/ageru)

Frying is called "ageru" (揚げる), and fried dishes are referred to as "agemono" (揚げ物). Some famous fried dishes are tempura (天ぷら), which is breaded with flour and egg, tonkatsu (とんかつ), which is pork breaded with flour, egg, and panko, and karaage (唐揚げ), which is usually chicken breaded lightly in flour or potato starch.

6. To dress(和える/aeru)

"Aeru" (和える) is to dress, such as a salad. "Goma-ae" (胡麻和え) is a dish in which leafy greens and mountain vegetables are dressed with sesame seeds, soy sauce, and mirin, while "karashi-ae" (辛し和え)uses mustard as a spicy accent. Other "aemono" (和え物) include "shira-ae" (白和え), in which dried and crushed tofu is used to dress seasoned ingredients.

7. To boil(茹でる/yuderu)

"Yuderu" is to boil. It's similar to stewing, but they serve different purposes in Japanese cooking. When one is stewing (煮る), it's flavored so the ingredients become seasoned, but in boiling (茹でる), cooking it quickly without adding seasoning is the goal. In examples when the ingredients are seasoned with salt, it's called "shioyude" (塩茹で). These dishes will be presented as "○○ no shioyude" (○○の塩茹で) in which the name of the main ingredient is inserted in the ○○.

If you know the characters, it will make looking at a menu much easier. Use this guide when you're looking at dish names and imagine what kind of meal will be presented to you!

*Please note that the information in this article is from the time of writing or publication and may differ from the latest information.

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