秋 Autumn foods

 

Fall has come to Japan!

Fall means cooler weather, shorter days, and the smell of burning fields.   The trees are just beginning to change their green dress to colors of yellow and reds.    Autumn is so important to the Japanese that everywhere we go we see signs heralding the coming of fall.

The daily special in a little cafe I went to last week was a bento of fall foods: mushrooms,  chestnuts and persimmon.  The tempura was not served with a sauce, as usual,  but a small plate of green wasabi salt to dab in the fried fish and vegetables.

 

The farmers 「nōka 農家」are out in the fields harvesting the rice.   The other day, I bought some newly harvested rice (新米 – shinmai).  

Today Don and I went to our local food store and bought an assortment of ready made okazu (おかず- side dishes)。We bought sweet potatoes, cooked spinach, sweet beans, yaki-tori (chicken kabob) and black stringy sweet things (some kind of seaweed product).  Okazu are intended to accompany the rice, miso and tsukemono (Japanese pickles) and often a hot dish such as grilled fish or chicken.  We bought some very large fresh scallops that we will grill with a dash of lemon and butter and top with a sprinkle of green onions.   A feast!

We will serve newly harvested nashi and kaki for dessert.

Later in the evening we will grill some omochi and dip the little hot round balls in abekawa (a soy flour [kinako] mixed with sugar) and serve it with green tea from my new little red tea pot (急須 – kyusu) made of Tokoname yaki .

Abekawa Mochi

Ingredients

  • 5 mochi balls/squares
  • 2 tbsp kinako (roasted soy flour)
  • 2 1/2 tbsp sugar
  • 1/4 tsp salt
Preparation
  1. Dunk mochi in a bowl of water and grill over a very hot stove OR microwave for 2 1/2 minutes (or until mochi gets soft)
  2. Mix kinako, sugar, and salt in a small bowl
  3. Dredge mochi in mixture, one by one, covering thoroughly
  4. Serve with hot tea
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8 responses to “秋 Autumn foods

  • Judy

    I remember watching two men make mochi in Nara–they were alternately pounding it, rhythmically and had gathered quite a crowd.

    • mbfitzmahan

      Judy, thank you for stopping by. I had a similar experience outside of Tokyo during my first stay in Japan. I remember that I was given a chance to pound the omochi. It took a surprisingly amount of strength. I was happy when someone took the mallet back and did the work for me.

  • Kristen

    As a child, my friend Rosalie & I were invited to go to our friend’s home very early on New Year’s Day while Stella Ishii’s older brothers pounded mochi as you described. I remember the excitement and feeling cold, even on Moloka’i, in the early morning. Later that day we had literally hundreds of friends drop by our house to enjoy the mochi, along with at least a dozen other Japanese dishes my Dad and Grandma had prepared at the restaurant.

    • mbfitzmahan

      Preserving the traditions of Japan in Hawaii! I love that.

      My next blog entry is dedicated to you.

      I look forward to introducing you to your family’s home country.

  • jamisonmichel

    That does taste like autumn. We’ve got a bit of a different experience with two scary pumpkins staring in at us from the fire escape on East 6th, but it is refreshing to know that somewhere out there, probably even farther than Jersey, someone is harvesting rice.

  • Magical Ms. M

    Oooh, I want some mochi and the soy-powder. I love how mindful, as a culture, the Japanese are of the changing seasons. I have been inspired and taken time to rearrange my house in the spirit or honoring the shift in light and energy.

    • mbfitzmahan

      You inspired me. We bought a beautiful new “noren,”(http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Noren) while in Kyoto. We have hung it between our main room and the tatami mat room. I made an ikebana arrangement with kinmokusei flowers found in our yard and changing leaves from a tree in the back. Sitting next to the flowers is a new lacquer dish made in the form of a kaki (persimmon fruit). The room smells of apricot from the kinmokusei and the feeling of quiet and peace pervades.

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