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While it’s one of my favorite things to do, cooking in Japan used to be a pain. I couldn’t find the 材料 (zairyō, ingredients) or 調味料 (chōmiryō, seasonings) for any of my favorite レシピ (reshipi, recipes): tortillas, deli-cut turkey, pesto, jalapeno peppers, black beans, hummus, you get the idea.

No, I was stuck making half-formed 炒め (itame, stir-fries) with 玉ねぎ (tamanegi, onion), ピーマン (pīman, bell pepper) and ひき肉 (hikiniku, ground meat), lightly seasoned with 醤油 (shōyu, soy sauce) and ごま油 (goma abura, sesame oil). It wasn’t bad, but I didn’t really understand or make the most of the available 材料.

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