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BellaOnline's Japanese Food Editor

Japanese Food Glossary L - M - N - O

Check back often for new additions to this inexhaustible list! Let me know if you have an entry you'd like to add, too!

Lotus root. Renkon is the Japanese name for lotus root that is similar to bamboo shoot in texture. It has holes throughout so when sliced, it looks like a flower petal design.


Maguro. Tuna.
Makizushi. This refers to the rolled varieties of sushi as opposed to the nigiri or the handrolls.
Maifun. Rice noodles that cook quickly either by frying or soaking in hot water.
Matcha. Green tea powder. Made from high quality gyokuro tea leaves which are grown in the shade to reduce bitterness, matcha is prepared ceremoniously during tea ceremonies and other formal occasions. It is not brewed but blended with hot water.
Mayonnaise. Japanese mayonnaise has a soft, silky texture and is flavored with eggs and cider vinegar or lemon juice instead of white vinegar. It is a tasty condiment blended with other ingredients and gives fish, meat or vegetables a golden brown crust under the broiler.
Mirin. A thick, sweet cooking wine used for seasoning dishes. It is not a beverage.
Miso. A paste made from fermented soybeans. There are several types of miso. Some types are a blend of soybeans and fermented rice. For example, red miso and white miso, both used for flavoring a myriad of dishes from pickles to meats are soybean and rice blends.
Mizuna. A green leafy vegetable. It is most recognized as a key ingredient for the New Yearfs good luck soup called ozoni. The greens symbolize money and wealth wished for in the coming year.
Mochi. A sticky rice concotion made from pounding steamed sweet glutinous rice. This sticky sweet rice variety is different from the rice grains eaten with meals. Mochi can be tinted, flavored, filled and made into different sweet or savory dishes. It is a good luck symbol on the New Year.
Mushimono. Foods cooked by steaming.
Musubi or omusubi. A salted rice ball wrapped in nori. Also known as "onigiri" which is not to be confused with "nigiri sushi."

Nabemono. Foods cooked in a one-pot type dish.
Natto. Fermented soybeans. It has a sticky texture with a pungent aroma.
Nigirizushi. The variety of sushi made from pressing sushi rice in the hand. Nigirizushi is topped with many types of fish, meat, vegetables or seafood.
Nishime. A traditional gstewh type dish made with root and sea vegetables simmered in fish stock. Sometimes, meat is added.
Nori. Dried seaweed that comes in sheets, flakes or strips. The higher quality nori has a dark green-blackish sheen. It is used to wrap sushi or onigiri (rice balls).

Ocha. Tea.
Ochoko. A type of sake cup.
Okara. A crumbly tofu substance made from the residue of tofu-making. Once given away free, okara was peasant food.
Onigiri. Salted rice balls wrapped in dried nori sheets. Colloquially called gmusubih or gomusubi.h
Okonomiyaki. A favorite street food with regional variations, this resembles a fried omelet pancake with vegetables and meat bits.
Oshi sushi. A type of sushi made with seasoned vinegared rice layered and pressed in a square mold.
Ozoni. Traditional New Yearfs soup made with fish stock, greens (for wealth and health) and mochi (for good luck).

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