The Japanese condiments Yakumi: 薬味

Tokyo Food Shichimi 2019.08.23
Here we will explain three different kinds of Yakumi that you will find generally in many restaurants in Japan. Especially the Japanese spices.
What are some of the common seasonings/ condiments in Japan?
First of all, what is Yakumi 【薬味:やくみ】?
The two words used here are 'medicine' and 'flavour'.
So what do they mean by that? It just doesn't sound right, does it?

The reason why the Japanese condiments are written this way is that they are based on the belief that food carries medicinal properties, and each condiment have different properties. Some help you with digestion, some help to get rid of smells from different ingredients. Yakumi is normally used in small portions to add flavour, give the dish more depth and to make it more complex.

So, what kind of Yakumi are there?
Sensational Refreshment, Wasabi
Wasabi is a plant, almost like horseradish (interestingly this is called western wasabi in Japan) or mustard. 
As many of you may know, the colour is green and has a distinctive strong smell to it. It is used as a condiment in many dishes in Japan but mostly related to seafood. If you use the right amount, it helps you with your digestion and gets rid of the greasiness of the food as well.

The most common dish using Wasabi

This as you all may already know, would have to be Sushi and Sashimi.
  • Sushi with wasabi.
Have a look at what other people use their wasabi for. (← Link to Instagram Posts)
The Spicy Hot Shichimi!
【七味:しちみ】Shichimi, one of the most famous condiments in Japan after wasabi.
This is a spice mix of seven different ingredients, just as the name goes. 【七】 meaning the number 7 and 【味】 meaning flavours, and in this case ingredients. 
The base of this spice mix is chilli. Other spices are mixed in to give the blend a complex flavour.
  • Some places even let you make your own shichimi like the picture above.
What's Shichimi used for?
Shichimi can be used for pretty much everything if you like hot chili.
  • You can add it to your Gyudon (beef bowl)
  • or even to your Nabe (hotpot) dishes.
See what other people use their shichimi for.
Spring Onion
  • A spring onion on top of a bowl of Soba noodles.
    In this case, the onion is used as a utensil instead of the chopsticks but can be eaten as a condiment as well.
    (Read about it here)
Spring onions are commonly used in Japanese cooking. In many cases, you will also see a lot of it being used as a condiment as well. Spring onion, when used as a condiment, the health benefits differ depending on which part of the spring onion you use.
The green part contains Calcium, vitamin A and vitamin C, whereas the white part helps to increase apatite and support the digestive system.

What are spring onions used for as a condiment?

What are spring onions used for?

Spring onions are used in many dishes to add a slight flavour to it or to add colour to the dish.
Spring onion is very versatile in Japanese food! It can be used cooked or raw.
Dishes like udon and soba noodles would be a common dish to see spring onion with it.
  • Spring onion in a bowl of udon noodles
  • A bowl of seafood on rice, topped with spring onion, wasabi and other condiments.
Just don't overdo it...😅
That's it for the first series of this article on condiments. We hope you enjoyed it.

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See you again in the next Japankuru article!
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