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Expert-Recommended Ingredients Japanese Cuisine Beginners Need On Their Grocery List

Japanese ingredients in various bowls
Japanese ingredients in various bowls - Yuuji/Getty Images

Whether you're a fan of savory bowls of Kake soba or spicy Kimchi Nabe, there's a lot to love about Japanese cooking. While seeking out this fare is a fun way to spend a night out, experimenting with cooking new cuisines is just as exciting. Still, for some Japanese cuisine beginners, crafting some of these meals could be intimidating at first thought. But with a few of the right tools on hand, it's not so difficult. It takes just a few expert-recommended ingredients to craft some of the best meals that Japanese culture offers. Markee Manaloto, executive chef and partner at Mishik in New York City, let us in on a few of the most essential additions.

For all those interested in learning to cook Japanese cuisine, Manaloto let us in on the top five ingredients chefs should add to their grocery lists. "My must-haves are soy sauce, sake, mirin, bonito flakes and konbu," he said. While some of these ingredients may sound familiar -- we're talking about you, soy sauce -- others might be new. For all chefs and lovers of Japanese cuisine, it's important to seek out these underrated additions too, as many of them are considered primary ingredients in Japanese kitchens and the keys to truly mouthwatering meals.

Read more: 5 Rice Brands To Buy, And 5 To Avoid

Why You Should Pick Up These Japanese Staples

small bowl of teriyaki sauce
small bowl of teriyaki sauce - Grafvision/Getty Images

While the rich layers of umami present in many traditional Japanese dishes are exciting, you might not know where those complex flavors come from in the first place. According to Markee Manaloto, many dishes garner their power from the special ingredients he considers essential.

"Sake and mirin are Japanese rice wines, though Mirin is sweeter and is mostly used for cooking. Combine those two ingredients with some soy sauce and sugar and you have a flavor base for countless Japanese dishes," he said. From simple teriyaki dishes to rich sukiyaki sauces, these basic ingredients are frequently found at the heart of many of Japan's most popular, and underrated, dishes alike.

Of course, however, there is a little more to the process than that. Additional ingredients like bonito flakes and konbu are just as important in Japanese cuisine, so don't skip out on these additions, either.

Add Bursts Of Deliciousness With Konbu And Bonito Flakes

konbu and bonito flakes bowl
konbu and bonito flakes bowl - matung/Shutterstock

While sake, soy sauce, and mirin are important, there are two more building blocks of Japanese dishes you should be keeping stocked in the pantry. "Bonito flakes are shavings of dried skipjack tuna, and konbu is dried kelp. These are the two ingredients needed to make the most basic dashi, a foundational Japanese broth," Markee Manaloto said. Savory miso soups and Japanese street foods like takoyaki alike garner much of their flavor from dashi, so these are important ingredients to keep on hand.

Beyond being the foundation of this flavorful stock, they're also just as great at elevating a whole slew of other dishes, from ramen to okonomiyaki, with some added depth and warmth. "Bonito flakes and konbu are also a great way to give an umami boost to your cooking," Manaloto said. Plus, they make excellent garnishes.

While every dish in Japanese cuisine is different, many of the most popular dishes of this Asian cuisine list these five ingredients in their recipes. You may have some soy sauce and sake already, but don't forget about the power of mirin, bonito flakes, and konbu to round out those essential Japanese dishes. You can find these ingredients at most grocery stores, as well as in Asian markets, so be confident, grab a cart, and get excited to craft some of your favorite Japanese meals from the comfort of your kitchen.

Read the original article on Daily Meal.