Foodmap Japan Westlandpeppers


Japanese cuisine

Japan is located in East Asia and consists of four main islands (Honshu, Hokkaido, Kyushu and Shikoku) and thousands of smaller islands. Despite today’s hectic high-tech era, Japan is characterised by simplicity, tradition and harmony. This is also reflected in Japanese cuisine, as its culinary traditions are deeply rooted in Japanese culture and history.

Japanese cuisine is known for its perfect balance of flavours, texture and presentation. The presentation of the food is very important. Each dish is prepared with great precision and simplicity, with nature being the main source of inspiration.

Sushi, with its variety and finesse, has become an international symbol of Japanese cuisine. The combination of fresh fish, perfectly prepared rice and beautiful presentation attracts people all over the world.

Key ingredients

Japanese cuisine is known for its use of some distinctive ingredients and flavours that form the basis of many dishes. The dishes have balanced flavours, with sweet, salty, sour and umami coming together harmoniously. Umami means “essence of deliciousness” in Japanese, and its taste is often described as the meaty, savory deliciousness that deepens flavor.

Rice is the backbone of Japanese food and is the basis of many dishes. The quality of rice is essential, and the way it is prepared and seasoned with vinegar makes it an indispensable element in sushi and many other dishes.

As an island nation, Japan has a rich seafood culture. Fresh fish, such as salmon, tuna, mackerel, eel and trout, is widely used in sushi, sashimi and other dishes. Seafood such as shrimp, squid, crab and lobster are also widely used. Fish and seafood are often eaten raw or lightly prepared to preserve their natural flavours. Another Japanese fish speciality is shiokara. This involves salted and fermented fish, usually made from the intestines of squid, sardines or mackerel.

Soy sauce
Four main ingredients are used in making traditional soy sauce: soybeans, wheat, salt and water. Fermentation is an important part of the process and the longer the soy sauce ferments, the deeper the flavour of the soy sauce becomes. It can take months or even years to produce high-quality soy sauce. It is used as a dipping sauce, flavour enhancer and marinade.

This spicy green paste, from the wasabi plant, is often mixed with soy sauce and used as a sharp and spicy seasoning for sushi and sashimi. More common and cheaper versions of wasabi are made with horseradish.

Nori is dried seaweed and is used to roll sushi and as a garnish. It has a distinctive salty flavour and adds texture and umami to dishes. Wakame is another type of fresh seaweed widely used in Japanese cuisine. It has a crunchy bite with lots of flavour and aroma and is delicious as a topping on or as a filling in sushi, sashimi and salads.

Tonijn Sashima Westlandpeppers
Sashimi: slices of fresh raw fish or shellfish served without rice, usually with a dipping sauce of soy sauce and wasabi.
Soja saus proces Westlandpeppers
Japanese soy sauce (shoyu) is made with steamed soybeans and roasted and milled wheat. To this mixture, water, salt and koji, a fungus (Aspergillus oryzae), are added and then placed in large barrels to ferment. The mould causes the mixture to ferment and gives it its savoury, rich flavour. In traditional soy sauce makers, the fermentation process takes as long as 18 months to 3.5 years. After this, the liquid is squeezed out of the soybean mixture, which is then soy sauce.
Japanse cheesecake matcha Westlandpeppers
Japanese cheesecake with matcha.
Wagyu rundvlees Westlandpeppers
Wagyu beef: recognisable by the fat marbling in the meat. Fat marbling involves veining of streaks of fat through the muscle meat. It makes the meat juicy and adds a lot of flavour. The degree of marbling in the meat depends on several factors, such as the living environment and the type of Wagyu breed.

Miso is a paste made from fermented soybeans. It is used to make miso soup and serves as a base for sauces and marinades. It comes in several varieties, from sweet to savoury, and adds depth and complexity to dishes.

Dashi is a broth used in Japanese cuisine as the basis for numerous recipes. The fish stock is made from Kombu (seaweed) and Bonito flakes (dried, smoked and fermented tuna).

This is a finely ground green tea with a rich, earthy flavour. Popular in tea ceremonies, but it is also used in cakes, ice cream and some savoury dishes.

Rice wine
Sake is a Japanese rice wine made by fermenting rice, not distilling it. Sake is served in special jugs (tokkuri) and small cups (choko or sakazuki). It can be drunk either hot or cold, depending on the sake and preference. Before serving, it is sometimes shaken gently. It is sipped slowly to fully appreciate the flavours. It can also be used for cooking.
Mirin is the low-alcohol and sweet counterpart to Sake, which often consists of 40-50% sugar. Mirin is often used for cooking only.

Kobe or Wagyu beef
A very expensive type of beef, coming from the Japanese Wagyu cattle breeds raised in Japan. The cows are only allowed to drink pure water and must be fed grains such as rice, straw, maize, barley and other grains. It is known for the intense marbling in its meat. It has a delicate flavour, texture and tenderness.

Other common ingredients include: yuzu, shiitake, edamame beans, sesame seeds (white and black), bamboo shoots, pickled vegetables and ginger.

Chili peppers

Chili peppers are not as important and popular in traditional Japanese cuisine as in some other Asian cuisines. They use mildly spicy chilies and herbs to subtly enrich dishes with flavour, depth and a hint of spiciness.

The best-known fresh Japanese chili is the Shishito. This mildly spicy, green pepper has a firm and savoury flavour. In Japanese, the name Shishito refers to “head of the Lion”, which the bottom of the pepper resembles. In terms of its use in cooking, it resembles the Pimientos de Padron, but in combination with typical Japanese dishes. They are traditionally roasted in the pan with some sesame oil and soy sauce. They are also delicious for teppanyaki, on a skewer with yakitori or in a batter and deep-fried as tempura.

Shichimi togarashi is a spicy seasoning mix which is widely used to flavour dishes and add a touch of spiciness. It is often sprinkled over ramen, noodles and grilled dishes. It consists of seven spices: szechuan pepper, red chili pepper, sesame seeds (white and black), ginger, roasted orange peel, nori and hemp seeds.

In modern Japanese cuisine or fusion dishes, chilies play a more important role. For instance, they are used to make spicier curries, sauces or marinades.

Shishito sojasaus Westlandpeppers
Grilled Shishito with soy sauce.
Nigiri sushi Westlandpeppers
Nigiri sushi: fish on an oval-shaped mound of rice. Sometimes a narrow strip of seaweed (nori) is wrapped around it so the fish does not fall off the rice.


Sushi has a rich history dating back more than a thousand years in Japan. However, the origins of sushi as we know it today did not started as the familiar sushi with fish on rice.

In the 8th century narezushi, an early form of sushi, was originated. It was a preservation technique in which fish was fermented by combining it with rice and salt. This process helped to preserve and ferment the fish, making it last longer. After a time of fermentation, the rice was discarded and the fermented fish was eaten.

By the 17th century, the technique had evolved into sushi, in which fish was served on top of pickled rice. The fish was often eaten raw, but sometimes lightly pickled or fermented to enhance the flavour.

The modern form of sushi, such as nigiri sushi (fish on a ball of rice) and maki sushi (rolls), originated in the 19th century in Tokyo. A chef called Hanaya Yohei is often credited with inventing nigiri sushi as we know it today. He started serving fresh fish directly on top of a ball of rice seasoned with vinegar, enhancing the flavours and textures.

From then on, sushi has spread worldwide and adapted to different tastes and ingredients, becoming one of the most loved and recognisable dishes of Japanese cuisine. As such, it has different shapes and styles, each with unique flavours and presentations. The best-known varieties are:

– Nigiri: This is one of the most recognisable forms of sushi. It consists of a hand-formed ball of rice topped with a slice of fresh raw fish, such as salmon, tuna or shrimp, often with a touch of wasabi in between.
– Maki: These are sushi rolls, where rice, fish and other ingredients are wrapped with nori (dried seaweed) and compressed into rolls. Here again, there are different types, Futomaki has multiple fillings, Hosomaki has only one filling, Gunkan maki is shaped like a boat and is often filled with salmon eggs, crab, muscle eggs or seaweed.
– Uramaki: Like maki, this is a rolled-up sushi roll. Whereas maki has the seaweed on the outside, uramaki has the rice on the outside. It is therefore known as ‘inside-out’ sushi.
– Temaki: These are hand-rolled sushi, also known as ‘sushi cones’. They are cone-shaped nori sheets filled with rice, fish, vegetables and other seasonings, similar to maki, but hand-rolled and often larger.
– Chirashi: Literally translated as “sprinkled sushi”. This is a bowl of sushi rice topped with various types of fresh fish, sashimi, vegetables and egg, often artfully arranged.

Verschillende soorten sushi Westlandpeppers
Different kinds of sushi
Okonomiyaki Westlandpeppers
Okonomiyaki: savoury Japanese pancake.
Hōtō Westlandpeppers
Hōtō: noodle soup with wide, flat noodles.

Popular dishes

A noodle soup that is, just like sushi, known and loved worldwide. The soup consists of noodles served in a rich broth with various toppings. Typical Japanese toppings include roasted pork (chashu), boiled egg, nori, bamboo shoots and spring onion. The flavours and textures of the broth, noodles and toppings result in a tasty and filling dish. Variations vary by region, making each bowl of ramen unique with endless combinations with different broths and toppings.

A savoury Japanese pancake, often compared to a stuffed pizza. It consists of a batter of flour, egg and cabbage with various additions such as meat, seafood, vegetables and bonito flakes, and is topped with a special okonomiyaki sauce and mayonnaise.

A savoury, soft, steamed egg custard often filled with pieces of chicken, shrimp, vegetables or fish. It has a delicate flavour and texture and is served in a small bowl.

Kare is the Japanese word for curry. Japanese curry is mildly spicy, slightly sweet and mild in flavour.

A Japanese dumpling filled with (pork) minced meat, vegetables such as cabbage, chives, shiitake and herbs. The filling is then wrapped in a thin sheet of dough and fried and steamed.

These are grilled chicken skewers. Yakitori in Japan can include different parts of the chicken, such as liver, heart, skin and sometimes vegetables are added to the skewers, all grilled over charcoal and often seasoned with tare sauce. This is a classic Japanese sauce made from soy sauce, sake and sugar.

A type of noodle soup popular in the Yamanashi region. It consists of wide, flat noodles cooked in a hearty miso or vegetable broth with various vegetables and sometimes meat.

Kitsune Udon
A bowl of udon noodles in a light dashi broth, garnished with fried tofu, which is often characterised by its sweet flavour. This dish offers an interesting mix of flavours and textures.


The Japanese capital Tokyo is one of the best food cities in the world, with restaurants on every corner. It has its own authentic style of sushi, called Edomae sushi. ‘Edomae’ is Japanese for ‘for Tokyo’, by which they mean that the sushi is made with fish from Tokyo Bay. The focus is on day-fresh, high-quality fish and seafood. Edomae sushi is served as nigiri sushi, made with a specific rice called ‘shari’. The rice is mixed with vinegar, sugar and salt and then shaped by hand into elongated rolls. The fresh fish and seafood go on top of the rice ball, giving it a minimalist look. You’ll often find unique seafood and specialities you can’t get anywhere else, for example with sea urchin.

Monjayaki, a local Tokyo speciality, is a kind of savoury pancake with a liquid consistency. Prepared with various ingredients such as vegetables, seafood, meat and batter, it is mixed and fried on a hot griddle until it takes on a creamy texture.

Tsukemen is a variation of ramen popular in Tokyo. It consists of thick noodles served with a separate bowl of hot soup or broth. You dip the noodles in the soup before eating them, making each bite intensely flavoursome.

Another well-known dish is the Katsu sandwich. This is a delicious sandwich made with a deep-fried pork schnitzel (tonkatsu), often topped with fresh cabbage and a sauce. It is a popular snack found at many streetfood places and restaurants in Tokyo.

You’ll also find many Tendon restaurants in Tokyo. This is a bowl of tempura, deep-fried vegetables, seafood or meat served on a bed of rice with a special sweet and sour tempura sauce on top.

Tokyo Westlandpeppers
Street in Tokyo with several restaurants.
Tsukemen Westlandpeppers
Tsukemen (noodle dipping): a bowl of thick noodles and a separate bowl of hot soup or broth. You first dip the noodles in the hot soup before eating them.

Japanese products

Spanish chilli pepper red Westlandpeppers

Spanish chilli pepper / Cayenne

From  3,44
Shishito Westlandpeppers


From  3,90
Magic Miso Mayo Westlandpeppers

Magic Miso Mayo

Nikkei Togarashi Westlandpeppers

Nikkei Togarashi

From  3,62
Cayenne poeder Westlandpeppers

Cayenne powder

From  4,13

Delicious recipes from Japan

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Cookbook tips

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Ordering during Pentecost

Monday 20 May is a national holiday in the Netherlands and therefore no orders will be made and shipped by DHL. Orders placed after Friday 17 May 10:00 AM will be made and shipped on Tuesday 21 May. Please take this into account when placing an order.