Fresh soba flour is fall's precious prize

| Nov 23, 2012

Fresh soba flour is fall's precious prize

The obsession with fresh, seasonal food in Japan extends to things that you may not even think of as having seasons, such as dried flour. Shin-soba-ko (new fall-harvest buckwheat flour, used in soba noodles) is eagerly anticipated every year by Japanese gourmets. While soba ...

The bittersweet taste of Japanese words

| Aug 27, 2012

The bittersweet taste of Japanese words

A little while ago a friend of mine who’s been living in Japan for few weeks texted me in a bit of a dither, saying, “This guy I barely know said I was sweet! Is he coming on to me?” It turns out the ...

<em>Umeboshi</em>: perfect in any culinary pickle

May 25, 2012

Umeboshi: perfect in any culinary pickle

Japanese cuisine has more than its share of acquired tastes, and umeboshi are near the top of the list. Intensely sour and salty, these traditional tsukemono (pickles) are prepared over several weeks, starting in June when the fruits of the ume tree are ripe, ...

What to eat when you can't stand the heat

Apr 27, 2012

What to eat when you can't stand the heat

As the weather gets warmer, foods that are served cold and require little to no cooking become more appealing. In Japan the choice of such dishes goes way beyond a plain green salad. One of these is sashimi, a food that defines Japanese cuisine. ...

Cherry blossom captures the flavor of spring

Mar 23, 2012

Cherry blossom captures the flavor of spring

The Japanese love affair with the cherry tree and its pink, fragile sakura blossoms is world renowned. Every spring, the nation eagerly awaits for the first pink buds to appear on bare branches. The sakura zensen, or cherry-blossom opening front tracked by Japan’s meteorological ...

<em>Kōji</em> — Japan's vital hidden ingredient

Feb 24, 2012

Kōji — Japan's vital hidden ingredient

The development of Japanese cuisine owes much to the humble kōji or kōji-kin. A type of fungus or mold, it is used in all kinds of foods and beverages. It’s as important in Japan as the fungi, bacteria and yeast that give character to ...

Rice takes prized, symbolic yearend form

Dec 30, 2011

Rice takes prized, symbolic yearend form

Shōgatsu (New Year’s) is the most important holiday on the Japanese calendar, and the dishes associated with it are laden with symbolic meaning. While the colorful foods of osechi, packed attractively in jūbako (stacking bento boxes), are the flamboyant attention-catchers of the New Year’s ...