The temperatures are getting lower and soon we will hopefully get to see the first snowflakes falling down, rinsing down as water from our windows. In these times, where we spend most of our time indoors anyway, the otherwise so refreshing season of winter might seem a little depressing and dull. That’s why I present you these Japanese Winter Foods I selected to maybe lighten up your day a little!
After coming inside from the cold there is nothing better to warm you up than a warm one-pot dish. In Japan these are called “Nabemono”, a combination of the words “nabe” (hot pot) and “mono” (thing). One type of these classic, refreshing dishes is Shabu-Shabu, a simple hot pot dish with a broth of just water and kombu (edible kelp). Other ingredients used are tofu, onions, carrots, mushrooms and other vegetables. The star of this dish are the thinly sliced meat slices, these are commonly beef parts like rib eye or top sirloin, and if you want to go all out wagyu is your way to go!
Kaki, also called Japanese Persimmons, are sweet fruit the size of an apple. They can be eaten as-is or made into dessert, salad or even to add more flavour to your main course. Ranging from yellow to a vibrant orange they can also bring more color into your dishes. While commonly grown in Eastern Asia, they can also be found in South America or even around Valencia in Spain. Be careful to eat them ripe though or you will maybe find yourself running to the nearest sink!
Probably one of the most commonly known Japanese dishes, sukiyaki, is another Nabemono. This time the broth is more complex, consisting of soy sauce, sugar and “mirin”, a sweet rice wine for cooking. This Nabemono also comes with thinly slices meat slices and various other vegetables like scallions, shiitake mushrooms and Chinese cabbage combined with tofu and rice noodles. Together these make a hearty warm dish perfect for a lunch on a cold day.
Leonardo Da Vinci allegedly once said: “Simplicity is the ultimate sophistication.” I think this applies to foods too, very simple meals allow your senses to fully concentrate on the individuality of the food and expose the hidden complexity in their taste. A great example for this is Yakiimo or roasted sweet potatoes. By putting a sweet potato on the embers of a campfire this dish will slowly cook itself to creamy perfection. And what is better proof of the exquisite taste of this dish than Saber approving of it?
Mochi, an outside of Japan also very popular dessert, is a soft rice ball with different fillings and flavors. There are many varieties of mochi eaten in different regions and at different occasions, but in the west commonly available varieties include strawberry, chocolate, mango and green tea. Almost synonymous with mochi are also the in the western world even more popular mochi ice creams, which combine the traditional rice ball with a cold filling of ice cream which often come in the same flavors as named before.
Although this time of the year might not be everyone’s favourite, I hope I could give some inspirations for food too lighten up your mood. If the ingredients aren’t available in your grocery store, be sure to check out your nearest asian supermarket, most of the typically japanese ingredients can be found there.