All About Japanese Vegetables

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    Daikon radishes
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    Daikon or daikon radish is a mild-flavored winter radish. In Japan, the variety of daikon most commonly used looks like a white carrot anywhere from 8 to 14 inches long and 2 to 4 inches in diameter.

    Raw daikon is frequently pickled or grated and mixed into ponzu, a soy-citrus sauce. It is also cooked, shredded, and dried. The entire vegetable is used -- the sprouts end up in salads and the leaf is eaten as a green vegetable.

  • 02 of 21


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    Kabocha is known as Japanese pumpkin or kabocha squash. It has a dark green skin and orange-colored flesh.

    This winter squash is used in side dishes and soups and also is a good candidate for vegetable tempuras.

  • 03 of 21


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    Satsumaimo sweet potatoes have dark pink skin, and the taste is similar to yams. They are mainly harvested in the fall in Japan.

    Roasted sweet potato is a popular street food in Japan but it is also boiled and steamed, used in vegetable tempuras and made into desserts.

  • 04 of 21


    Fresh negi
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    Negi onion, similar in appearance to a giant green onion but stronger in flavor, is frequently used in Japanese cooking. The white stems and green tops of this onion are used in one-pot dishes like ​sukiyaki and more.

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  • 05 of 21


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    Gobo is burdock root which is very crunchy with a sweet, mild, and pungent flavor. In Japan, it is used with pork in miso soup and Japanese rice pilaf dishes. It is often served shredded and raw with soy sauce, sugar, rice wine, and sesame oil.

    Pickled gobo often is used in sushi and tempura dishes. Fermented gobo is used to make miso and rice wine.

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    Edamame consists of green soybeans. "Eda" means branches and "mame" means beans in Japanese. Boiled edamame is an easy-to-make appetizer.

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    Nasu (eggplants) are usually small and can be grilled, steamed, simmered, fried, pickled, and so on.

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    Taro roots are called satoimo in Japan. Peeled satoimo are slippery and sticky. At one time, it was more important than rice as a staple. It is used extensively including being simmered in fish stock and soy sauce to make a dashi.

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  • 09 of 21


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    Grated nagaimo (Chinese yam) is called tororo and is often served with soba noodles, sashimi, steamed rice, and so on in Japan. This tuber can be eaten raw, unlike some other yam varieties that must be cooked before cooking. 

    It is often eaten raw grated into a noodle soup or mixed with dashi, wasabi and green onions.

  • 10 of 21


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    Hakusai (Chinese cabbage) also is known as napa cabbage and is used extensively in Japanese cooking in myriad dishes.

  • 11 of 21

    Shin Shoga

    Shin shoga
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    Shin shoga or fresh ginger root is used grated fresh in many dishes and to make pickled ginger.

  • 12 of 21

    Aojiso (Green Shiso)

    Green shiso
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    Shiso (perilla) is known as Japanese basil. Green shiso is called aojiso. They both are used as a herb to flavor dishes and as a garnish.

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    Akajiso (Red Shiso)

    Red shiso
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    Akajiso is a red shiso (perilla). Red shiso leaves are used for dyeing umeboshi (sour ume pickles) in addition to giving flavor to certain dishes.

  • 14 of 21

    Kabu (Turnips)

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    Japanese white turnip or kabu is a favorite ingredient of miso soup and are good candidates for pickling.

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    Bitter gourd is called goya in Okinawan dialect. Goya has dark-green and bumpy skin and is very bitter.

    Also known as bitter melon, goya has flesh that tastes like a cross between a cucumber and under-ripened melon. Goya chanpuru is a traditional Okinawan dish made with pork, egg, and goya.

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    Nira chives are often used for stir-fried dishes, soup, as garnish and more in Japan.

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  • 17 of 21


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    Japanese cucumber is long and slender, thin-skinned and seedless with an almost melon flavor. They are often pickled and served as a cooling ingredient for spicy foods. It often is found in sushi, sashimi, and bento.

  • 18 of 21

    Moyashi (Bean Sprouts)

    Bean sprouts
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    Moyashi is the sprouts from mung beans. Bean sprouts are a common ingredient in many Japanese dishes such as stir-fries and soups.

  • 19 of 21


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    Myoga ginger is used as garnishes in noodle dishes, soup, and more in Japanese cooking. Only the flower buds and shoots are used in cooking as ​a garnish or simmered in miso soups and roasted eggplant.

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    Takenoko are shoots of bamboo (take). It's a popular ingredient in Asian cooking.

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  • 21 of 21

    Renkon (Lotus Root)

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    Renkon or lotus root is often used in Japanese boiled and seasoned vegetable dishes or tempura. Its texture changes based on the cooking method. When boiled, it becomes more starchy. When pan-fried, it is crunchy.