Kitchen Culture

Tasty tidbits from the old-fashioned Japanese kitchen
Junsai, a summertime delicacy

Junsai, a summertime delicacy

JUNSAI (water shield; Brasenia schreberi) grows naturally in lakes, ponds and slow streams in many parts of the world but only Japan and China have a long history of cultivating the plant as a food. The Japanese especially love foods with a tsuru tsuru (slippery,...

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Kashiwa Mochi

Kashiwa Mochi

So named because this sweet is wrapped in kashiwa (oak) leaves, kashiwa mochi 柏餅 is enjoyed during the Golden Week holidays, early in May. Historically this sweet is associated with Tango no Sekku (also known as Kodomo no Hi or Children's Day). What's the connection?...

Fresh Bamboo Shoots

Fresh Bamboo Shoots

The moment in the culinary calendar when a food is at its seasonal peak of flavor is referred to as shün, and it is the driving force in most Japanese kitchens. Indeed, entire menus are planned around shün ingredients. In the spring, as tender bamboo buds begin to...

Kiriboshi Daikon

Kiriboshi Daikon

Before refrigeration became widely available, pre-modern societies struggled with keeping fresh food from spoiling. A variety of ingenious techniques were developed throughout the world, including drying fresh foods in well-ventilated shade. In Japan, the resulting...

Funky Fish Sauces

Funky Fish Sauces

Fermented fish sauces can be found in many parts of the world, most having been produced for thousands of years. It is unclear whether each was an independent "discovery" or whether they influenced each other by way of shared ancient trade routes and/or political...

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