Celebrate Fall With These 5 Japanese Ingredients
Written by Teni Wada (@wadateni)
When it comes to fall in Japan, the phrase, shokuyoku no aki (“Autumn Appetite”), perfectly sums up this delightful season of heartwarming comfort food. Shokuyoku no aki reflects the harmony of the 5 senses and Japanese cuisine. Here are 5 flavorful seasonal ingredients that you can easily incorporate into your meal plan to celebrate fall.
Chestnuts (kuri) make their fall debut in a variety of delicious desserts across Japan. But, chestnuts aren’t just for sweets like mont blanc, marron glace, and the traditional Japanese treat, kuri manju. Chestnuts pair well with confectionary or are extremely versatile and their sweet, nutty flavor are enhanced when roasted. One tried and true staple of the dinner table is kuri gohan, peeled chestnuts cooked alongside rice in a rice cooker.
A cholesterol-free source of protein and fiber that’s also low in calories and cholesterol, mushrooms are packed with nutrients like B vitamins, copper, potassium and selenium.
Popular varieties include eringi, nameko, shiitake, and maitake, but the undisputed king of the fall dinner table in Japan is the aromatic matsutake mushroom. Try matsutake suimono, a soup made with clear dashi broth, tofu, mitsuba herbs, and slices of matsutake mushroom.
Persimmons (kaki) are, small round fruit that are tomato-like in appearance. It’s a wonderful sight to see persimmon trees take on color as fall progresses. When the fruit is ripe, you can eat the flesh raw or make into jams and candies. As fall transitions into winter, it's time to string peeled persimmons from a string to make hoshigaki, dried persimmons that are bursting with the fruit’s natural sugars.
Another hearty starch that makes its way to the Japanese dinner table is the pumpkin, or kabocha. Small and green, Japanese pumpkin certainly don’t look like their western counterparts, but they deliver when it comes to taste. Kabocha work well in soups, in croquettes, and as temputa, but a fuss-free way to prepare them is kabocha no nimo, chunks of kabocha simmered in water, dashi, sugar, mirin, and soy sauce.
Japanese sweet potatoes have a wonderful rich flavor and creamy texture. Try daigaku imo, crunchy candied sweet potatoes topped with sesame seeds, or satsumaimo gohan, diced satsumaimo cooked alongside rice. If you’re in Japan during the colder months, then you must simply try yaki imo, stone-roasted sweet potatoes. They are sold in convenience stores and supermarkets, but for the ultimate Japanese experience, get yours from food trucks blaring the “yaki imo” song on its neighborhood rounds.
Ready to take on shokuyoku no aki? Let us know which of these 5 Japanese fall ingredients are making their way to your dinner table tonight!
Author bio: Teni Wada appreciates the simplicity and versatility of Japanese cooking ingredients and enjoys recreating her mother-in-law's dishes. A foodie at heart, she is always on the lookout for seasonal snacks and drinks to share on Twitter (@wadateni). You can also find Teni Wada on Instagram (@wadateni) and her lifestyle blog, babykaiju.com where she documents motherhood in Japan.