Food, Home & Lifestyle

Japanese Pantry Essentials

Niki Nakayama

Lesson time 16:57 min

In order to prepare great Japanese food, you will need authentic ingredients. Niki shares tips for sourcing and selecting traditional Japanese ingredients.

Students give MasterClass an average rating of 4.7 out of 5 stars

Topics include: Storing and Sourcing Ingredients


[MUSIC PLAYING] - This is Carole, my wife at home and my partner in the kitchen. We're going to be talking about the Japanese pantry, with examples like different kinds of soy sauce, miso, Japanese rice. We have bonito and kombu, and we have different kinds of salt and flavoring profiles that we use that make up what Japanese food is about. We have here a very wonderful Japanese rice that is actually from Japan. It's Uonuma region in Nigata, which is famous for rice and sake, because the waters are so cold. Everything-- the environment there is very clean, so it produces a lot of amazing products, like rice and sake. This one here is a short-grain rice. It's called [NON-ENGLISH], and it's famous for its texture. The texture is known to be a lot more viscous, in terms of mouthfeel, but there's a bounce to it that is unique to [NON-ENGLISH]. So when you cook rice, and you taste it, and you can feel the individual bites of the grain, along with having it still be viscous, is an incredible product to have with rice. It's one of the most enjoyable ways that rice can be. So the short-grain rice is also the kind of rice we would use for sushi. There are different varieties, such as [NON-ENGLISH], and if you're looking for more local product, California also produces a lot of amazing short-grain rice. In fact, for our restaurant, because we like to keep in line with what California is about, we actually mix a bit of the Japanese rice and American [NON-ENGLISH] or [NON-ENGLISH]-style rice together, and that creates a wonderful balance of both worlds. So as long as it's a short grain and it's from Japan, you're welcome to try it and see which one you like, because sometimes, it all comes down to preference. CAROLE: So this is sesame seed, and they come in white and black. This one happens to be the white sesame seed that you see commonly in Japanese food. And we use it for finishing off a dish, maybe a light vegetable that's just been steeped in dashi. Sometimes, we might actually grind the seeds up to make a paste and use that paste in varying sauces. NIKI: I think what makes it uniquely different from, say, sesame oil is that, because it is, in its form, a lot lighter. And with the toasting of the sesame seeds, it brings out a more nutty aroma, like Carole says. And it's a great way to add the flavors of sesame without having it being overwhelmingly strong because of the sesame flavor that you would find in sesame oil. Generally, we toast raw sesames over on the stovetop in a shallow pan, very low heat, and sort of just roasted around in it. And it's a cook process-- probably like two, three minutes, if that. CAROLE: This is kombu. This one, in particular, is [NON-ENGLISH] kombu from Japan. And that is one of the most delicious versions of it that worked the best, I think, in dashi-making. And it's basically a kelp that's been dried. And for dashi, it's really important. Between the dashi and the [NON-ENGL...

About the Instructor

The chef and owner of two-Michelin-starred restaurant n/naka in Los Angeles, Niki Nakayama is celebrated for her modern interpretation of kaiseki, a traditional Japanese cuisine. With her partner and sous chef, Carole, Niki will teach you techniques for preparing sashimi, tempura, perfect rice, and more. Learn how to make dishes that honor fresh ingredients as Niki shows you how to cook with care and gratitude.

Featured MasterClass Instructor

Niki Nakayama

Niki Nakayama of two-Michelin-starred n/naka teaches you how to honor fresh ingredients with her innovative take on Japanese home cooking techniques.

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