<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 ...

Sweet dreams of a childhood winter warmer

| Nov 25, 2011

Sweet dreams of a childhood winter warmer

The mournful chant of the ishi-yakiimo-ya or stone-roasted sweet-potato seller advertising his wares is a cherished part of the late fall and winter landscape in Japan. The sing-song chant is often accompanied by the thin, penetrating tone of a whistle, which seems to echo ...

Pig in Japan: the nation's most popular meat

| Oct 28, 2011

Pig in Japan: the nation's most popular meat

The most popular type of meat by far in Japan is pork. Nearly as much pork is consumed as chicken and beef combined. It is particularly popular in Okinawa, Kyushu, and the Kanto area. My mother was born in Saitama Prefecture in the 1940s, ...

Forage your way into mushroom season

| Sep 23, 2011

Forage your way into mushroom season

Edible mushrooms are a feature of the fall season in temperate climates worldwide, and Japan is no exception. The humid climate lends itself to the growth of all kinds of fungi, so it’s easy to assume that mushrooms (or kinoko in Japanese) of all ...

Curry — it's more 'Japanese' than you think

| Aug 26, 2011

Curry — it's more 'Japanese' than you think

To many people in Japan, summertime is synonymous with hot and spicy food. Spices are believed to cool you down by making you perspire, as well as stimulating an appetite dulled by the sweltering weather. The quintessential spicy dish in Japan is curry, which ...

The nostalgic and sweet life of Kyoto

Jul 22, 2011

The nostalgic and sweet life of Kyoto

The world of wagashi, traditional Japanese confectionery, can be a little difficult to decipher. Not a few people are rather underwhelmed by their first taste of a typical wagashi such as daifuku, a sticky rice dumpling filled with an, sweet adzuki bean paste. Even ...

Serving green tea in your own home

| Jul 22, 2011

Serving green tea in your own home

It’s impossible to write out a recipe for wagashi in such a limited space, and just as impossible to acquire the skills you need to make them! So here is a recipe for making a proper glass of iced matcha tea, the perfect summertime ...

Keep a low-power kitchen this summer

| Jun 24, 2011

Keep a low-power kitchen this summer

Now that we are entering the hottest part of the Japanese summer, it’s time to get really serious about saving electricity — in the kitchen as much as anywhere. The power shortages caused by failed or closed power plants (nuclear and otherwise) will affect ...

Farming without chemicals — or radiation

| May 27, 2011

Farming without chemicals — or radiation

Yasunori Toyoguchi peers under the netting protecting a small rice paddy. “See,” he says, pointing to some grassy shoots, “here’s this year’s crop, just starting to emerge.” He scoops up a little of the water trickling over the mud with one hand. “See how ...