Japanese Cooking Essentials

From ramen noodles to corn flour, we've rounded up the best Japanese pantry staples you need in your kitchen for those late night kaarage chicken creation cravings.


When cooking Japanese cuisine, it is often confusing and hard to wrap your head around what staples you’ll need, and what is commonly used in a Japanese kitchen. What’s the difference between light and dark soy? When will I need chilli powder versus chilli flakes? We’re here to help you out with our Japanese Cooking Staples that you’ll need for most recipes and can really help you elevate the flavours you’re cooking with.


At the heart of Japanese cooking is seasoning staples. From adding a dash of fish sauce, to making a broth spicy, adding in seasonings (more than just your average salt and pepper) can really elevate an Asian dish. Here are some of our top seasoning suggestions to keep in your pantry:

Soy Sauce (both light and dark soy)
Rice Wine Vinegar
Ginger, both pickled and fresh
White Miso Paste (this also lasts a long time, so it’s great to have in the fridge)
Nori / Wakame
Wasabi Paste
Chilli Oil (there are heaps of great recipes to create your own)
Kewpie Mayonnaise
Corn Starch (great for shallow frying)
Peanut Oil
Cooking Sake / Rice Wine (different from rice wine vinegar!)
Sesame Seeds

Now you have your seasonings down, it is time to start with the substance – fresh or dried produce, noodles, and rice are all staples in Japanese Cuisine. From making a fresh miso soup to a bowl of hearty ramen, these are some of the substance staples to have in your pantry that can help you create an authentic Japanese dish.

Rice (both sushi rice, and plain white rice)
Noodles (dried are great for longevity, but aim to get some fresh ones if you can – soba, udon, and ramen are popular varieties)
Panko Crumbs
Tofu – firm tofu is great for crumbling, or for stirfry dishes
Dried Shitake Mushrooms
Bean Sprouts (great for toppings for an additional crunch)
Spring Onions
Daikon Radish
 Edamame Soy-Bean
Enoki Mushrooms
Anko (Red Bean Paste – great for desserts)

What is your favourite Japanese condiments and items to use when cooking? Let us know in the comments!

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