AIUEO - Sa (さ) – Sa, Shi, Su, Se and So - The Basics of Japanese Cooking

Posted by on April 18, 2018 – AIUEO Japanese Learning Blog
Basics of Japanese Cooking

What are the Sa, Shi, Su, Se and So’s of Japanese Cooking?

 

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Hi there! Can you believe it’s already May!? Well, anyways, it’s time for yet another edition of the popular (or so I’d like to believe) AIUEO blog! It is now our third run through the cycle! Today’s theme is a Japanese word that begins with “Sa”… and the word is “Sashisuseso”! And no, I’m not just getting desperate (lol).  These five syllables actually hold the secrets behind the ever so delicious Japanese cuisine!

When you think of seasonings used in Japanese Cooking, you’d probably think of the usual soy sauce and salt. If you were to add both to your pot, which would you add first? The order in which you add these seasonings actually changes the resulting flavor.  The word “Sashisuseso” is used to help you remember the proper order! Now, let’s dive into the meaning behind each syllable to help you unlock the secrets behind cooking great Japanese dishes!  We’ll find out exactly why this order is so important!

Sa: Satou 砂糖 – さとう (Sugar)
Shi: Shio – 塩 – しお (Salt)
Su: Su – 酢 – す (Vinegar)
Se: Seuyu, Shouyu – 醤油 – せうゆ,しょうゆ (Soy Sauce)
So: Miso – みそ- 味噌 (Miso)

 

Sa: Satou 砂糖 – さとう (Sugar)

Sugar grains are large so it takes time for the flavor to fully set in. For sweetened dishes, this is the first thing to go in!

 

Shi: Shio – 塩 – しお (Salt)

Salt grains are on the smaller side so the flavor sets in easily. It also has the effect of drawing moisture out of other ingredients.  This prevents the other ingredients’ flavors from setting in properly, so make sure to put salt in after sugar!

 

Su: Su – 酢 – す (Vinegar)

Vinegar is weak against heat so if it’s added too soon the acidity will disappear. It’s even more guilty of preventing flavors from setting in than salt. Remember to add it after the salt!

 

Se: Seuyu, Shouyu – 醤油 – せうゆ,しょうゆ (Soy Sauce)

First some trivia! In early times of Japanese, “shou” was written as “seu” which is why “se” is used to represent “shouyu” (soy sauce). Soy sauce loses its flavor when exposed to heat so it’s best to add it towards the end.

 

So: Miso – みそ- 味噌 (Miso)

“What happened to the ‘mi’?!” you ask? Don’t panic! Don’t get mad! Everybody, keep calm!  It turns out that in ancient Japanese “miso” was simply called “so”, which is why we use “so” here to represent miso. To those of you who got the answer right, you must be quite the connoisseur of Japanese cuisine!
Miso also tends to lose its flavor when exposed to heat so add it at the very end and enjoy its aroma.
If you usually make your own miso soup, starting today try giving it a taste before it boils!

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