In recent years, chefs across the world have been flying the flag for seasonal cuisine – but in Japan, it’s a practice that’s been followed for centuries. The seasons are keenly felt in Japan, and these four distinct periods are celebrated in authentic Japanese recipes, from the special sakura mochi sweets enjoyed during cherry blossom season to the cool somen noodles of summer and the hearty chanko-nabe stews of winter.
Autumn in Japan has its own collection of traditional recipes and ingredients, known as aki no mikaku. In fact, as the weather cools down across the country, eating becomes a priority – so much so that Japanese people even have an adage for it: shokuyoku no aki, meaning ‘autumn is the season for eating’.
Some of the most popular autumn ingredients in Japan are the Pacific saury fish (simply grilled and salted – try oily mackerel as a substitute), roasted chestnuts, matsutake mushrooms (you could use local pine mushrooms in Australia), sweet potatoes and salmon. Embrace these autumnal ingredients at home or try this authentic recipe idea from the home kitchens of Japan.
Japan’s answer to risotto, kinoko gohan is a soul-warming dish of braised mushrooms and rice. Start by braising mixed fresh mushrooms and dried shiitakes in a pot of soy sauce, sake, mirin, kombu seaweed and water. Once tender, drain and reserve the mushrooms – but don’t discard the stock. Combine 2 /12 cups of the braising liquid with 2 cups Japanese rice in a rice cooker and cook until tender. Allow to stand for 10 minutes, then fold through the mushrooms and season with sesame oil.
For a modern twist, why not try this recipe for barbecued wasabi steaks with mushroom rice? For more seasonal cooking inspiration, try 8 noodle recipes for easy autumn dinners, or read our A to Z guide to autumn produce.
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