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Japanese Food Onomatopoeia: Shuwa Shuwa and Tamarind Lemonade

June 30, 2011 · 21 comments

in Drinks,Gluten Free,Japanese Food Onomatopoeia,New Zealand Story,Vegetarian

tamarind lemonade image sasasunakkuI’m home! It feels like a warm bath on a cold day to go eat Korean wild sesame steamboat with my friends and then call Peppermint Patty, an ice-cream parlour (and I do mean parlour) to ask them if they’ll stay open just a few more minutes so we can come in and squeeze ten of us in a booth while we eat poisonously green and orange ice-creams, make off-colour jokes laughing uproariously and watch Iain win a hideously ugly stuffed turkey for Anna in one of those pick -up-a-toy-with-a-claw machines. Even if it is winter. Even if I miss F.

It’s beautiful here today and if you have the heater on you could drink this tamarind lemonade and pretend you are in the tropics. Or, you lucky devils in the northern hemisphere, you can just drink it and not pretend anything.

“Shuwa shuwa” means fizzy. This tamarind lemonade and also Hugo cocktails are shuwa shuwa. When I was in San Francisco I was told the various American names for what Kiwis call “fizzy drinks”: pop, soda, even “coke” as applied to all fizzy drinks.

Audioscript: “Shuwa shuwa na nomimono” (A fizzy drink).

NB: If you click the little arrow below, the audio will play. I just got over the flu so I sound a bit nasal I’m afraid.


What do you call fizzy drinks?

Tamarind Lemonade

I had something like this a long time ago in a cafe in Bern in Switzerland and it was so easy to recreate. It makes the Sprite less fizzy and a tiny bit more sourly refreshing; I can imagine that it would mix well with a white spirit and a twist of lime but what does not, I suppose.

500 ml Sprite or 7Up (I call that lemonade but I know Americans don’t so I’m trying to avoid confusion, obviously you can use any brand you like)

2 or 3 heaped tablespoons tamarind paste

Mix the tamarind paste with a few tablespoons of hot water and mix around to melt. Sieve into a bowl and discard the seeds.

Mix the paste with lemonade to taste.

Pour over plenty of ice to serve, with lemon, if you like.

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amber June 30, 2011 at 3:19 pm

I call fizzy drinks fizzy drinks. I don’t often drink fizzy drinks except for fizzy water. Which I call fizzy water. Waitresses look at me blankly when I order this way at cafes and restaurants. What should it be called?

I love “shuwa shuwa”. It sounds like the cap being removed from a bottle of fizzy drink.

Sasa, why are these onomatopoeic Japanese phrases always in doublets?

PS Get well soon/ Güte Besserung.

Sasa June 30, 2011 at 9:57 pm

No idea, was there an answer in that paper?
I think it’s called sparkling mineral water… I always think of it as being ohne or mit (Kohlensäure).

Alessandra June 30, 2011 at 3:26 pm

Funny enough tamarind is used as a summer drink in Italy too, you get a tamarind syrup and add water (still or sparkling) :-). I didn’t know the term shuwa shuwa :-).

When you are in well, I’ll buy you dinner at Nishiki if you speak Japanese with us at the table :-). We need a good “table lesson!!” What do you say???


Sasa June 30, 2011 at 3:28 pm

You’re on!

Kocinera June 30, 2011 at 3:48 pm

I love that it’s winter in New Zealand right now! It’s so nice to know that there still exists a place where it’s not 100+ degrees. :D

Hmmm, down in Texas-y parts of the U.S. I hear a lot of people refer to shuwa shuwa beverages as “Coke.” However, I’m a stickler for precise adjectives (read: I’m a geek) and call it “soda,” although I usually just say whatever brand it is. I’ve heard a lot of 50+ year-olds call it “soda water,” too.

Sasa June 30, 2011 at 4:16 pm

Soda water!? That’s what I call plain (not mineral) bubbly water to use in vodka, lime and soda etc. Madness!

Janae June 30, 2011 at 7:31 pm

I literally just sat here for five minutes trying to say “Shuwa shuwa na nomimono” and I just can’t do it. Tongue twister. You say it so fast; I’m jealous. Here in California, I’ve always heard fizzy, syrupy drinks in general referred to as “soda” which is I what I call them too, but specific drinks are always referred to by their proper name (i.e. “Coke” or “Sprite”). I once had a friend when I was young whose mom called soda “pop” and back then I thought it sounded so funny, but now I get that it’s a regional thing (I forget where she was from).

Glad you made it home safely and are having fun, and I hope you’re feeling better!

Reena/ Coconut Raita June 30, 2011 at 8:39 pm

Okay I think my world has just tilted off it’s axis. I lurve tamarind. I can’t believe I didn’t know about tamarind lemonade. Off to by some sprite and give it a go now. Too excited…

Suz July 1, 2011 at 12:30 am

Tamarind lemonade sounds lovely! I usually just call them fizzy drinks, though I know people who called them fizzy juice. That always makes me laugh for some reason.

Glad you’re having fun! Did you get the flat you had your eye on?

Kimberley July 1, 2011 at 5:40 am

Seems like friends and the comforts of home are exactly what was needed to mitigate the distance from F. And I LOVE this recipe. But I’m going to make it with real lemonade. Lemons + tamarind together sounds delish.

Sasa July 5, 2011 at 11:25 am

That sounds great! Let me know when the recipe is perfected ^_^

Anna Johnston July 1, 2011 at 5:53 pm

Fizzy or soft drink. Those are the only 2 names I use. :) Nom Nom NOM… I love tamarind and this here sounds like a beauty. Hope you feel better sweets. Have a brilliant weekend. :)

Emily July 1, 2011 at 8:05 pm

Glad to know you’re settling in back home and don’t mind the NZ winter too much. Here I’m enjoying an English summer and it’s lovely to sleep well at night without a heatwave. I’ve only ever said fizzy drinks or pop. Once in Switzerland though I saw sparkling water or Sprudelwasser labelled as Wasser mit Sauerstoff or oxygen which was funny. Great recipe.

sakura July 1, 2011 at 10:04 pm

I think I had a tamarind drink when I used to live in Bangkok. But not shuwa shuwa though. It looks cho oishiso:) Looks like you are having fun settling back in NZ. Karada ni ki wo tsukete ne.

Sasa July 5, 2011 at 8:37 pm


SMITH BITES July 1, 2011 at 11:53 pm

I’ve missed you Sasa!!!! I’m happy you’re home although I didn’t know you weren’t feeling well which is a bummer BUT am happy to read you’re on the mend. Now on to the fizzy stuff . . . When I drank it, I called it ‘pop’ – Pepsi, Coke, Sprite – whatever fizzy back in the day, was called ‘pop’; occasionally I’ll have a ‘sparkling or fizzy’ water these days but mostly we drink plain water w/a bit of lemon or duke added. Hugs to you Sasa!!!

Aiman July 3, 2011 at 5:55 pm

Sounds so refreshing, i make mine with sprite or 7 up with raw mango or ripened mango, and pinch of black salt.

hungryandfrozen July 4, 2011 at 9:35 pm

Tamarind lemonade sounds just wonderful. I tend to call fizzy drinks just that, fizzy drinks. Because I like to drink vodka and soda water, when I was traveling round Europe I would try to suss out what they called soda water/sparkling water in advance…I mostly got it right, got the occasional lemonade instead!

catty July 5, 2011 at 8:14 am

I’d drink tamarind lemonade any time of the year! Besides, summer in London is not THAT warm. Can’t wait to be back down south with ya!

Suzy July 7, 2011 at 6:18 pm

Hey! You’re there!
My sister and I would always go to a Mexican in Notting Hill. She would get the tamarind water, I would get the almond milk. It was a tradition.

Yuki October 20, 2011 at 11:54 pm


Yes, I love the way Japanese words can be used twice! Do you know Shabu Shabu it is a beautiful way to cook fresh beef. I am thinking of doing it for a pop-up dinner soon here in London. Please keep in touch, i am a chef teaching Japanese cooking lessons in the UK.

Best wishes,


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