Food Vocabulary

Grains, Nuts, Seeds, Fats

buckwheat flour

whole-wheat vs. whole-grain

native pea starch – Socode, a Belgian animal feed ingredient company, produces a native pea starch made from yellow peas.  Per the Socode Web site, they separate and decant the protein (25%), fiber (15%), ash and sugars (8%), and fat (2%) from the starch (50%).  (First the fiber (hull and cell wall) is separated and then the protein is decanted; the page does not mention when or if the ash and sugars and fat get extracted.)  “Pea starch, the starch or flour of the common pea, which is sometimes used in adulterating wheat flour, pepper, etc.” and “a combination of extruded pea starch containing lysozyme could potentially be used as a biodebradable material for packaging with antimicrobial activity” (from

Salep is a flour made from early-purple orchid tubers (orchis mascula).  It was most common in Ottoman Empire beverages and desserts.  In England in the 18th and 19th centuries the drink called saloop was made from orchid flour and then later from sassafras.  In modern Turkey and Azerbaijan, dondurma, a type of ice cream, is thickened and made more resistant to melting with the inclusion of salep.  (The thickest version is eaten with a knife and fork.)


Citrus unshui

Citrus unshui is more commonly known as the Satsuma mandarin in the US, as mikan (or unshu mikan) in Japan, and Wenzhou migan in China.  The States of Texas, Florida, Louisiana, and Alabama all have a town named Satsuma after the fruit; Northern California does not though the fruit has been commercially grown there for decades.  The Fuji Mikan CaDew-FX Promotion Council of Shizuoka, Japan offers sweets that contain Mikkabi mandarin oranges and processed foods flavored with whole, liquified Wenzhou mandarin oranges.  (Mikkabi is a town in the Inasa District, Shizuoka Prefecture, Japan known for its mikan.)

Perry pears are higher in tannin and acid than eating or cooking pears, and are generally smaller.


black garlic = garlic fermented at high temperatures producing sweet and syrupy cloves.

Garlic scapes = tender Spring greens of elephant or hardneck garlic.  (Once the garlic heads (bulbs) mature, the stems (scapes) are dry, inedible stalks.  The removal of the green scapes encourages larger bulb growth.)  Scapes have a milder flavor than the heads and may be eaten raw.  Scapes are curly with a texture similar to asparagus.

okra is also known as ‘lady’s fingers’.

rapunzel = Valerianella locusta, more commonly known as mache (often included in Spring baby greens mixes).

Pandan leaves are used in Southeast Asian cuisine to flavor dishes such as pandan chiffon cake, enhance the aroma of rice dishes, impart a pale green color, and to protect against mold.  Pandan tea is becoming popular in Vietnam.


A ‘drupe’ is a fruit comprised of a seed surrounded by flesh. The ‘stone fruits’ are all drupes; coffee, coconut, mango, olives, and berries are other examples. A berry (such as a blackberry or a raspberry but not a strawberry) is an aggregate fruit: each fruit consists of a soft core surrounded by drupelets (small drupes) and topped with a stem and leaf cap. An ‘acinus’, Latin for berry, is a berry or any cluster of cells that resembles a berry such as the termination of an exocrine gland. The plural is ‘acini’ and the adjective forms are ‘acinar’ and ‘acinous’.
blet – soft or decayed spots in overripe fruit


amazake (‘sweet sake’?) – fermented rice

must – freshly pressed, unfiltered fruit juice – usually grape.  ‘marc’ and ‘pomace’ both refer to the solid remains (unfiltered material) of the pressing of fruit (for oil or juice). The former is French and the latter was first used in English (after the Latin word ‘pomum’ meaning fruit and fruit tree) – though it’s easier to remember the latter in a French context given that the English originally used pomace to refer to the remains of cider production: ‘pomace’ from pressing ‘pommes’, the French word for apples.

matcha – powdered green tea.  The powdered tea leaves are consumed, unlike loose leaf and bagged tea which are disposed of after steeping.

smoothie – and a ‘roughie’ (not in the dictionary definition of a type of fish)

barm – yeasty foam that forms on the surface of a malt liquor during fermentation.

wheat shochu – a Japanese distilled beverage higher in alcohol and less sweet than sake.

kōji is the Japanese name for Aspergillus oryzae, a fungus (mold) used to ferment soy beans, potatoes, rice, and other grains.  kome-kōji is fermented rice malt.  shio-kōji is kōji with extra salt; it is eaten as a condiment or used as a fermentation starter for miso or sake.  (kome = rice; shio = salt)

bohea – a type of black tea.  Chinese.

Dairy and non-Dairy Anologs

beurre échiré (or échiré butter) is a French brand of slow cultured butter with 80% butterfat.

Seafood, Poultry, Mammal

chikuwa is a Japanese processed seafood product formed into a thick-walled tube.  The ingredients include MSG, salt, and sugar.

karasumi is Japanese dehydrated, salted mullet roe.

sundae is a type of Korean blood sausage with noodles in pig’s intestines.

grilse = a young Atlantic salmon on its first return to the sea.

Seasoning Mixes and Sauces

kaeshi (or hon-kaeshi) is a (vegan) mixture of soy sauce, sugar, and mirin used as a flavoring base in dishes such as ramen.  (Ramen broth often has the addition of kombu and/or bonito.)

muhammara is a Turkish combination of roasted red pepper, walnut, pomegranate molasses, cumin, and Aleppo pepper.

romesco is a Catalan sauce typically eaten with fish; it consists of roasted or raw almonds, pine nuts, and/or hazelnuts; roasted garlic; olive or sunflower oil; bitxo peppers (similar to New Mexico chiles), piquillo peppers, paprika (pimentón), and/or nyora peppers (a sun dried variety of red bell pepper).  It may be thickened with flour or ground stale bread.  Romesco sauce may also include roasted tomatoes, red wine vinegar, onions, and fennel or mint.

rouille is a French sauce of olive oil with breadcrumbs, garlic, saffron, and chili peppers.  It is often used as a garnish for fish soup.

Chamoy is a Mexican condiment combining a pickled fruit such as apricot with chilies and lime.  Its consistency ranges from a paste to a thin sauce; it also comes in a powdered form.


shakshouka (North African), huevos rancheros (Mexican), and menemen (Turkish) are spicy egg dishes generally eaten for breakfast.  In shakshouka the eggs are poached in a tomato, onion, and chili sauce; the eggs in huevos rancheros are scrambled and eaten with a tomato-chili sauce in corn tortillas; and in menemen the eggs are scrambled in a tomato, onion, and chili saute.

brose – Scottish oatmeal or pease porridge, sometimes with added fat.

paitan broth is milky due to the long-cooking of bones (usually pork or chicken) which releases collagen.

Urumqi Xinjiang, China kebabs are basted frequently and then when almost done, they are sprinkled with salt, pepper, paprika, and cumin.

Arancini are Italian breaded, stuffed, and deep-fried rice balls.  Most commonly they are stuffed with ragu, cheese, and peas or ham and cheese or béchamel sauce.  Pistachios, mushrooms, or eggplant are other variations.  Similar dishes are Roman suppli (cheese stuffed) and Napalese pall’e riso.


kozuyu is a vegetable soup with clear broth served at ceremonial occasions in Fukushima Japan.  It often includes konnyaku noodles.

yatsuhashi is souvenir sweet made from glutinous rice flour, sugar, and cinnamon in Kyoto.  It may be raw (and wrapped around red bean paste) or baked.

Suikanshuku is hoshigaki (dried persimmon) stuffed with sweetened bean paste.


lees: – residue at the bottom of the fermenting and aging vat.  The Wikipedia article only refers to lees as a residue from making wine (from grapes); the ad copy by the Fuji Mikan CaDew-FX Promotion Council of Shizuoka, Japan refers to lees associated with a fermented mandarin orange beverage.

limewater – An alkaline saturated solution of calcium hydroxide (not related to a diluted citrus solution).  One culinary use is nixtamalization – a process which removes the coating (hulls) from the maize (corn) seeds (kernels) and makes the niacin more bioavailable.  Another is ‘yam noodles’ (shirataki noodles) – which aren’t made from yam but rather from the crom (underground fleshy stem similar to a tuber or bulb) of the konjac (nicknamed ‘elephant yam’) plant.  Pale white shirataki noodles are made by combining konjac flour (glucomannan powder) and limewater; the limewater causes the konjac flour to gel.  Tofu is often added to the noodles available in US markets; in Japanese markets hijiki, a brown sea vegetable, is added for flavor and color.  Glucomannan gel is high in soluble fiber and has no calories.  kansui is a soaking liquid of alkalized lye; it gives noodles a pale yellow color and a firm, springy texture but needs time to deodorize.

smoking, hot or cold – From a Dear North FAQ on the difference between ‘hot-smoked’ and ‘cold-smoked’ (related to smoked salmon): “Hot and cold refer to the smoking temperature. The temperature creates a different texture and flavor. Hot-smoking at high temperatures (about 150° F) creates a flakey, firmly-textured product. Cold-smoking at about 80° F creates a very moist, delicate product known as lox.”

Tourne – turning a potato into multiple potato ‘torpedoes’ (i.e. no sharp edges).

Fish heads and crustacean shells – impart a lot of umami.

Drying of vegetables concentrates their umami, increases their nutritional value, and reduces their grassy odors.



tourne knife = ‘peeling knife’.  Along with a small chef’s knife, as a vegetarian this is the knife that I use most often.  The blade is fairly short – 2.5 to 3″ long – and is shaped somewhat like a crescent moon.  Prior to purchasing this knife I used a small paring knife but I find the sharper point and concave edge of the tourne knife to be superior for tasks such as cutting out stems and blemishes (typically a circular cut) and shaving curved surfaces.  The two types of knives are equally useful for tasks such as cutting the stem ends off of green beans.


medical nutrition, nutraceuticals

functional foods

clean label, simple label



hand-to-mouth platform – In the context of Hershey’s, ‘hand-to-mouth platform’ refers to mini candies such as Reese’s Minis and Hershey’s Drops.  (A Mars example is M&Ms.)


See the Nutrition Books, Food Media, and Food in Fiction posts.

Wikipedia article on Japanese ingredients.

Old Comments to Incorporate

Yakisoba bread (or yakisoba pan) usually refers to a type of hot dog bun filled with yakisoba (usually sauteed wheat noodles topped with some carrot slivers and/or shredded cabbage). Yaki soba bread may also refer to a type of grilled doughnut sold as a convenience item. (The latter form is depicted on the third page of the second chapter (“Lord Uro”) of Volume 5 of the English translation of Kekkaishi a manga by Yellow Tanabe.)

Foods named after people:

Donburi is simmered (basically stewed) savory ingredients over rice in a bowl.
Chaliapin Steak

skordalia is a Greek spread of garlic, olive oil, and a bulky base such as potatoes, walnuts, or soaked stale bread.

(See the review for Food Wars! Volume 2 for more info on the following terms.)
‘chazuke’ a Japanese dish of rice and green tea with savory toppings
poêlé – a French sautéing variation
seer fish = mackerel
chankonabe – a Japanese protein-heavy stew

gougeres (accent ague on the first ‘e’) are baked savory choux pastry with shredded, chewy, white cheese.

suki = Thai variant of hot pot;

glair (or glaire) = egg white; inside-out salad = typical salad toppings wrapped up in a lettuce leaf??; soupcon = a dash or little bit; Kouign-amann = Breton cake (made wi bread dough); garlic scapes = immature (garlic) blossom stalks;

‘amandine’ refers to a garnishing with almonds. Americans often misspell the term ‘almondine’. ‘amande’ is the French word for ‘almond’ – though the Old French word was ‘almande’.

‘Frisuelos’ are the Spanish equivalent of the French ‘crepe’. The two are very similar only the Frisuelos have the addition of lemon (or orange) zest. The frisuelos recipe that I found uses a bit of olive oil; I don’t remember using olive oil when making crepes – and I don’t use any oil when the pan used in a non-stick crepe pan.

11 Replies to “Food Vocabulary”

  1. Taro (dasheen); eddoe – also known as malanga, arvi or arbi, kochur mukhi, chembb or Chembu, cará or inhame

  2. From Food Wars Vol 4: karasumi (dried millet roe). allspice can not only nullify the smelliness of some ingredients but it can also act as a digestive aid.

  3. Per Catherine Coulter in her Regency novels (including “Wizard’s Daughter”), a pork kniver is a “cutlet that’s baked with peonies and thyme until it resembles the leather on the bottom of your slippers. It is a challenge to the all teeth. Quite tasty really.” I can’t find other references to cross-certify. Likewise I can’t find other references to ‘witmas tea’. Also from “Wizard’s Daughter”: “‘Cook requested that I inform you that she has prepared a very fine half calf’s head, tongue, and brains, quite in the French way, although ‘execrable’ springs to mind when one speaks of the Frogs cooking anything.’ The Countess of Northcliffe asked, ‘Is there perhaps something not quite so unambiguous she is also serving?’ ‘Fortunately yes, my lady. Not to be overlooked is her famous boiled bacon-cheek, garnished with spoonfuls of spinach followed by a compote of gooseberries, and cauliflower with cream sauce, all blessedly prepared in the English way.'” “stewed Spanish onions, sweet with a punch of black pepper”

  4. agar – a gelling agent derived from red algae; also called agar-agar, kanten (in Japan), Japanese isinglass, Ceylon moss, and Jaffna moss. It is used as a vegetarian gelatin substitute.

  5. soma – ancient Vedic ritual drink made from a fruit (or fungus) extract, the source of which is not known.

  6. Porgy is the common name in the US for fish in the family Sparidae; bream is another common name. Food fish in this family include common pandora, scup, sheepshead, southern black bream, yellowfin seabream, and Australasian snapper (aka squirefish; not a member of the family which includes red snapper).

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