MACROBIOTIC FOOD GLOSSARY

Agar-agar
A white gelatin derived from a sea vegetable, used in making aspics and jelly.

Amazake (or amasake)
A sweetener or refreshing drink made from sweet rice, millet or oats and koji starter that is allowed to ferment into a thick liquid. Hot amazake is a delicious sweet beverage.

Arrowroot
A starch flour processed from the root of an American native plant. It is used as a thickening agent, similar to cornstarch or kuzu, for making sauces, stews gravies and desserts.

Azuki bean
A small, dark, red bean imported from Japan, but also grown in the United States. Good when cooked with kombu (sea vegetable).

Bancha tea
Correctly named kukicha, bancha tea is made by steeping the stems and leaves from mature Japanese tea bushes. This tea aids in digestion and contains no chemical dyes. Bancha makes a great breakfast or after-dinner tea.

Black sesame seeds
Small black seeds, occasionally used as a garnish or in black gomashio, a condiment. A different variety of seed from the common tan sesame seed.

Brown rice
Whole, unpolished rice. It is available in three varieties: short, medium and long-grain, and contains an ideal balance of minerals, protein and carbohydrates.

Burdock
A hardy plant that grows wild in the United Kingdom. The long, dark burdock root is delicious in soups, stews and sea vegetable dishes or sautéed with carrots. It is highly valued in macrobiotic cooking for its strengthening qualities.

Daikon
A long, white radish. Besides making a delicious side dish, daikon is a specific aid in dissolving fat and mucus deposits that have accumulated as a result of past animal food in take. Grated daikon aids in the digestion of oily foods.

Gomashio
A condiment made from roasted, ground sesame seeds and sea salt. Gomashio is a rich source of minerals and whole oil and can be sprinkled lightly on rice and other grains.

Hijiki
A dark brown sea vegetable that turns black when dried. It has a wiry consistency, may be strong-tasting and is high in calcium and protein.

Hokkaido pumpkin
There are two varieties: One is a deep orange color, the other has a light green skin. Hokkaido pumpkins have a tough outer skin and are very sweet inside.

Kombu
A wide, thick, dark green sea vegetable that grows in deep ocean water. Often cooked with vegetables and beans; and used in making condiments and soup stocks. Kombu is rich in essential minerals.

Kuzu
A white starch made from the root of the wild kuzu plants. Used in making soups, sauces, gravies, desserts and for medicinal purposes.

Lotus root
The root and seeds of a water lily that is brown-skinned with a hollow, chambered with white inside. Very good for the respiratory organs.

Mirin
A wine made from whole grain sweet rice. Used occasionally as a seasoning in vegetable or sea-vegetable dishes.

Miso
A fermented grain or bean paste made from ingredients such as soybeans, barley and rice. Many varieties of miso are available. Barley (mugi) or soybean (hatcho) miso is usually recommended for daily use. Miso is especially for the circulatory and digestive organs. It is high in protein and Vitamin B12.

Mochi
A rice cake or dumpling made from cooked, pounded sweet rice.

Nori
Thin sheets, of dried sea vegetable that are black or dark purple when dried. Nori is often roasted over a flame until green. It is used as a garnish, wrapped around rice balls in making sushi or cooked with tamari as a condiment. Rich in Vitamin A and protein, nori also contains calcium, iron, Vitamins B1, B2, C and D.

Rice balls
Rice shaped into balls or triangles , usually with a piece of umeboshi in the center, and wrapped in toasted nori shiso leaves to completely cover. Pickles, seeds, vegetables, fried tofu, and other ingredients can be placed in the centre to create a variety of tastes. Rice balls can also be coated with whole or ground sesame seeds.

Seitan
Wheat gluten cooked in tamari, kombu and water. Seitan can be made at home or purchased ready-made at many natural food stores. Many people use it as a meat substitute.

Shittake mushrooms
Fresh shiitake can be used in soup stocks or vegetable dishes, and dried shiitake are used in medicinal preparations. These mushrooms are effective in helping the body to discharge excess salt and animal fats.

Takka
A condiment made from hatcho miso, sesame oil, burdock, lotus root, carrot and ginger root, sautéed on a low flame for several hours.

Tempeh
A dish made from split soybeans, water and a special bacteria that is allowed to ferment for several hours. Tempeh is eaten in Indonesia and Sir Lanka as a staple food. It is available pre-packed, ready to prepare, in some natural-food stores.

Umeboshi
Salty, pickled plums. Umeboshi plums stimulate the appetite and aid in maintaining an alkaline blood quality. Shiso leaves are usually added to the plums during pickling to impart a reddish colour and natural flavouring.

Wakame
A long thin green sea vegetable used in soups, salads and vegetable dishes. High in protein, iron and magnesium, wakame has a sweet taste and delicate texture and is especially good in miso soup.

For a better understanding about many more ingredients used in macrobiotic cooking (or to learn what they are!), please visit my friend Christina Pirello’s wonderful and extensive site for a helpful Glossary and Resource Guide.