In Japanese cooking there are 5 basic seasonings ingredients which are essential for making most dishes. Known by the mnemonic “Sa-Shi-Su-Se-So”, they are:
SA - SATO (砂糖) Sugar
SHI - SHIO (塩) Salt
SU - SU (酢) Vinegar
SE - SHOUYU (醤油) Soy Sauce
SO - MISO (味噌) Miso
The order in which these ingredients are used is important. They are listed in order from the lightest through to the strongest flavours. Basically, the ingredients with flavours that are most susceptible to changing when heated are added last, for example soy sauce or miso. The way we remember this is with Sa (さ) Shi (し) Su (す) Se (せ) So (そ), which is the “s” row in the Japanese hiragana and katakana phonetic alphabets.
1. Sa / Sugar: Sugar is said to take longer to be absorbed in cooking, so it should be used early in the cooking process.
2. Shi / Salt: For salt to be absorbed it should also so be used early in the cooking process. However, if you add it before sugar, sugar won't be easily absorbed, so sugar comes first of all.
3. Su / Vinegar: If you add vinegar at an early stage, the acid disappears. So add vinegar at the appropriate time. To avoid vinegar dominating the salt, add it after the salt.
4. Se & So / Soy sauce & Miso: To best enjoy their flavours, add them last to any dish.
“Sa” / Sugar (200g)
Made by the Ueno Sugar Co., which has been making sugar in Osaka for over 100 years, from Kagoshima & Okinawa sugar cane. Contains minerals, and is rich in sugar cane flavours.
“Shi” / Salt (100g)
Made from sea salt from Goshiki-beach in Awaji-island, Hyogo. This salt is carefully made by a salt master to retain as much of the natural minerals as possible. To make the soft, rich flavour, the final evaporation is done by heating the sea salt in cast iron kettles for approximately 48 hours. It has umami as well, and is great with any kind of cooking.
“Su” / Vinegar (360ml)
This organic rice vinegar is a refreshing and versatile seasoning. If you like to add a little bit of Japanese flavour to your dressing, use this vinegar – it will make a real difference. Of course, when cooking Japanese or Asian dishes, it guarantees good quality flavour.
“Se” / Soy sauce (360ml)
Made by the Katagami Soy Co. in Nara, which still uses a natural brewing process in wooden barrels. Soy beans rich in umami are harvested in Nara, and steamed under the eye of a maestro who carefully watches the temperature and humidity to produce the “koji” ferment, then patiently matured to create a superior quality soy sauce. Deep and rich aromas with fine flavours.
“So” / Miso (500g)
I describe Miso as the flavour associated with my grandmother’s dishes. Every house in Japan has at least one kind of miso in the kitchen – she always had more than one she made herself. This is red miso and you can use it for miso soup, dressings, stew, pickles, sauce, and more. Miso contains enzymes which aid digestion and provide a nutritious balance of natural carbohydrates, protein, vitamins and minerals.