Japanese seasonings
Japanese culture

Is soy sauce or Miso halal? Things Muslims have to know about Japanese seasonings.

To enjoy comfortable food journey

We are sure that you all agree Japanese food is so tasty! Japanese food is very unique, and so many seasonings that are not familiar with tourists are used. Did you know that we put seasonings that contain alcohol?

Now many of our Muslim readers may have concerns for their food in Japan. If you do not know about our seasonings, you might be adding haram seasonings without knowing the fact, even though you pay extra attention on the menu.

To help you spend more comfortable food journey in Japan, we are going to tell you about the knowledge of our basic seasonings.

Seasonings made from Alcohol, why do we use them?

Let’s start from alcoholic seasonings. Just like French cuisine, we use alcohol to cook food. Aims of adding these seasonings are as follows:

  • To remove the smell of meat or fish.
  • To make the meat softer and to let it absorb the sauce and Umami savories.
  • To help meat stay intact.

These alcohols are usually added into food when it is still being cooked, so the alcohol will be burnt off. Most of the religious authorities say that if the percentage of the alcohol in the dish is less than 0.5% and it is not used to intoxicate someone, it should be considered as Halal.

Still, if you wish to avoid any form of alcohol, then the following seasonings should be avoided in Japan.

  • Sake (酒)
  • Mirin (みりん)

Sake literally means “alcohol” in Japanese. There are two types of Sakes in Japan, one is for drinking, and another is as seasoning. Or we can even substitute drinking Sake for cooking, when we do not find seasoning in the kitchen.

Mirin is made from Shochu, a type of Japanese alcoholic beverage. It is used as a sweetener, or sometimes it is added on the surface of rice cracker to give a nice color after baking.

These two alcoholic seasonings are widely used for traditional Japanese cuisine, such as Nimono simmered dish, fish products, rice crackers and even some sweets.

Seasonings that may have residual alcohol.

Apart from alcoholic seasonings, we still have some more seasonings that you should be aware of. These seasonings are not made from alcohol; however, they could have residual alcohol inside.

  • Soy sauce
  • Miso
  • Vinegar
  • Mayonnaise
  • Ketchup
  • Flavoring
  • Enzyme

There are some reasons why they can have small portion of alcohol inside.

The first reason is because of natural fermentation. Some of the seasonings have sugar inside, so that there occurs a fermentation, which produces a small percentage of alcohol.

The second reason some manufactures put a little bit of alcohol for preservation purpose. By adding alcohol, it stops natural fermentation, which causes the product getting deteriorated faster.

The third reason is because it is extracted from alcohol. Flavoring can be made from alcohol, and it cannot be accepted by some people.

Whatever the reason it is, the percentage of alcohol is quite low. This percentage is usually lower than 0.5%, a percentage stated by some religious organizations that give Halal certification, so it is widely considered as Halal by many Muslims.

How can Muslims avoid these seasonings?

Unfortunately, because the introduced seasonings are the most basic part of Japanese food, it is extremely difficult to avoid them completely. Although choices will be limited, we strongly recommend you to go to Halal certified or at least Muslim-friendly restaurants where there is a chef who has learnt what is acceptable for Muslims.

The important thing is that there are many Japanese people who know that Muslims cannot eat pork meat, but they do not know that even seasonings should be considered. So, going to a normal restaurant and simply ask them to serve a food that does not contain pork may be very risky.

Each of you may have different ideas for “Halal”, but what is the most important thing is that you all know about this fact.

We can help you get your preferred Japanese Halal meals during your vacation. It can be delivered to your location with a small service fee, so feel free to ask us at any time!

Read this article if you want to know the easiest way to find Halal soy sauce in Japan.