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Shimeji

Autumn Food, Blog

菊の節句 Chrysanthemum Day


Chrysanthemum Day 
菊の節句 Kiku no Sekku also known as Chōyō no sekku (重陽の節句is the last of the five ancient sacred festivals of Japan (Gosekku 五節句).

The 9th of the 9th is said to be very auspicious in Japanese culture . It coincides with the blooming of the chrysanthemum and is a time when festivals took place at the Japanese imperial court.

The chrysanthemum is the symbol of the emperor of Japan and is the official flower of Japan.. You will see it on the imperial seal, you will find it on the Japanese passport, the 50 yen coin, and you may see the emblem at shrines like the one on the gates at the Yasukuni shrine in Tokyo.

Chrysanthemum growing is a much practiced hobby with people entering contests for the best blooms. It takes lots of love and care to grow the perfect flower.

Chrysanthemum Day is observed by drinking chrysanthemum sake sprinkled with chrysanthemum petals. This is known as Kikuzake. These flowers were said to bring longevity, so drinking the sake was a symbol of a long and happy life. I have served the sake here with some chestnut wagashi ( recipe for this can be found on my autumn recipe pages.

Other things  for this day we’re bathing with chrysanthemum flowers much like the bathing with Yuzu for the winter solstice  A practice of covering the flowers over with a cloth over night outside and wiping your face with the dewy cloth in the morning for young looking skin was also observed.

On this day it is tradition for people to eat chestnut rice “Kurigohan”. In order to celebrate the harvest, people will cook the kuri (chestnut) and Japanese rice with dashi, and then enjoy such kurigohan as a traditional food, other foods eaten today could be eggplant and In some regions, soba and amazake are also enjoyed.

I thought it would be nice to make Gomoku Gohan a five ingredient rice which included chestnuts to celebrate the last of the five seasonal festivals. There are also recipes for this and takikomi Gohan (mixed rice ) on my recipe pages. For this I added chestnuts, aburaage,carrots, kiriboshi daikon and shimeji mushrooms. I soaked the rice in a kombu shiitake dashi including some of the water from reconstituting the dried daikon adding tamari and mirin to the soaking water. Just add the ingredients on top of the rice but do not mix. Cook the rice and when done gently fold in the ingredients then put the lid on to steam for a further ten minutes. Serve with a sprinkle of sesame seeds.
Another food to eat on the auspicious day is eggplant so to go with the rice I simply steamed a whole peeled eggplant and made a delicious sesame miso dressing for it. Served as a Teishoku set meal on a tray with chilled tofu and a simple broth with vegetables, pickles, chilled tofu and for dessert the September seasonal  star figs with a sweet miso glaze.



As they are such auspicious flowers, chrysanthemums often appear as a motif on pottery So why not use this pottery today to serve your food. 

I have spoken before in previous posts about the Japanese word Fu-bu-tsu-shi the little things that signal the changing seasons. The key part of focusing on the here and now and celebrating the passing of time. I think this micro season is one of my favourites, already there is a mist across the fields in the early morning the name of this micro season (Hakuro meaning white dew breaks).  The sky is dappled with altocumulus clouds ( also known as mackerel sky) they are a sign of changing weather.

With the arrival of the autumn equinox and the moon viewing festival Tsukimi, it will be time to make Ohagi and Dango once again. So much to enjoy this month. Celebrating the abundance of nature’s harvest with late summer early autumn vegetables and fruit. In Japan the rice fields will begin to turn gold and the spider lilies will bloom once more.

Winter Food

The Perfect Miso Soup

Miso

For centuries Japanese artisans have been fermenting grains and soybeans with koji to make what’s considered a super food. An essential ingredient in many dishes but who can forget the humblest of them all miso soup.

white miso with silken tofu, komatsuna, maitake and enoki mushrooms and chopped green onion.

Miso soup, rice and pickles are the main components of any ichiju-sansai or ichiju-Issai zen Buddhist meal or a kenchin-Jiru soup, a root vegetable and tofu soup with miso.

miso soup with shimeji mushrooms, mizuna,daikon, aburaage and Japanese sweet potato.

Miso is a source of essential amino acids, vitamins and minerals from iron and B vitamins to calcium and protein. This ingredient is often used to restore health and prevent illness and many people in Japan have miso everyday. There are many different types of miso depending on what has been used to make it. The cooked grains or beans are mixed with koji aspergillus culture water and salt and left to naturally ferment at room temperature for up to two years. Gradually the enzymes supplied by the koji breaks down the beans or grains into fatty acids, amino acids and simple sugars.
When you go shopping for miso there is a wide variety to choose from some are white and sweet and some are dark and earthy, choose ones that are made naturally preferably organic and unpasteurised.

Miso soup with mushrooms,cabbage,tofu and watercress.

When making miso soup start with dashi, in Japan this is often made with fish flakes called bonito,but a simple kombu dashi will work fine for vegans. Just soak a piece of kombu over night in water and gently simmer for 10 mins then remove.

why not try adding some Yuzu rind to your kombu dashi for a touch of citrus flavour.

You can experiment with different ingredients from carrots, mushrooms,radish,seaweed and tofu along with different kinds of miso to find your favourite but here is some inspiration for you. Cook your veggies first before adding your miso. Never boil your miso as this will destroy the natural beneficial enzymes. The best thing is to take a little warm cooking liquid and ladle some into a bowl, add your miso and dissolve then put this into your pan.

I normally use 1/2 litre of kombu dashi with two tablespoons of miso but you might like it stronger or weaker depending on the miso your using. Who would of thought a simple miso soup could have so many possibilities. You could even experiment with combining different miso together.

Leeks, mushrooms and vegetables

In Japan on New Year’s Day there is a special soup called Ozoni which is eaten for breakfast as part of Osechi Ryori ( New Years food) with a Mochi rice cake. The kansai style uses sweet white miso why not try having this and follow the Japanese traditions even if you can’t be in Japan right now.

Ozoni

Autumn Food, Blog

Tonyu & Miso Nabe

Tonyu means soy milk in Japanese and nabe is a kind of one pot dish.

This thick and creamy nabe is full of vegetables and tofu it is comforting and filling but also healthy.

Its so quick to make all you need to do is prepare what vegetables you want to use.

I used napa cabbage,kale,leek,broccoli,carrot,pumpkin,tofu and a selection of Japanese mushrooms.

Start by steaming the vegetables first that take the longest so the carrot and the pumpkin and leave things like the kale and broccoli until the last minute.

In a pan add two cups of kombu dashi (leave a piece of kombu submerged in water over night or simmer for 15 mins) and two cups of soy milk,add one tablespoon of mirin and bring to a gentle simmer. Add your miso about two tablespoons and gently stir in.

Pour your broth into a large pot and add your vegetables and tofu. Serve with rice. (If you have a donabe pot like this one you can cook them all together in the same pot, just add your broth and vegetables pop on the lid and simmer )

A perfect meal for a cold day but so easy to make.

Autumn Food, Blog

Tofu Baked With Kabocha & Miso And A Simple Oden

This was a perfect autumn Teishoku meal.

First cut a piece of firm tofu in half and wrap in a paper towel to soak up any moisture. In a bowl add two tablespoons of steamed and mashed kabocha then add a tablespoon of sweet white miso and mix together. Remove the towel from the tofu and place on some parchment paper on a baking sheet. Coat all sides with the pumpkin mash except the bottom. Sprinkle with sesame seeds and bake until the coating is crispy. This will be crispy on the top but fluffy inside.

I served the tofu with sautéed purple sweet potato pieces and steamed kale in a sesame sauce. The sauce was white sesame paste,mirin and tamari.

With this I also made an oden style one pot soup. You can read more about this in one of my winter recipes just search Oden.

This one was made by soaking kombu and a shiitake to make a dashi,for a few hours. I then removed and discarded the kombu and sliced the shiitake. Added the shiitake back into the pot along with tamari,mirin,shimeji,aburaage,chunks of daikon and leaf shape carrots .I also added a few pieces of Yuzu rind I think this makes such a difference to the flavour. Yuzu is hard to come by in the UK. If we manage to ever get it it’s imported over from Japan and is very expensive. Normally sold at the Japan centre in London. If I’m lucky enough I buy one and take off the rind and slice the rind into pieces,I then freeze it to be dropped into stews when ever I choose. So because it’s frozen it’s well worth the investment. Everything is then simmered on a low heat until the daikon is tender,and everything and soaked up the lovely favours.

Serve with mixed grain rice and salad . There was also a warm amazake and roasted tiny satsuma orange. I had never thought of roasting an orange until I was watching a program about fire festivals in Japan at which they roast Mikan in the fires. I just popped mine in the oven with the skin still on and then peeled it after. The orange was small just enough for one mouthful but how sweet and warm the orange became . Give it a try.

Now the weather is getting colder why not make a Japanese oden to warm you up on an evening. Just simple ingredients but you will be surprised how flavoursome this dish is.

Autumn Food, Blog

Takikomi Gohan

It’s starting to feel like a touch of autumn here in the UK. Berries on the trees are already ripe and the birds are loving it. Everything is starting to turn a gold hue and the mornings are a little cooler.

With that said I know Japan is still very hot but I wanted to make a traditional autumn dish called takikomi gohan as I had a lovely mixed punnet of Japanese mushrooms I wanted to use up. The rice dish is about the seasoning in the rice. You can use what ever you like in this dish traditionally it would be meat or fish but I am obviously making this vegan. If you use five ingredients in this dish it would be known as Gomoku Gohan. A similar dish called Maze Gohan does not have the vegetables cooked with the rice they are simply mixed in after the rice is cooked. This mixed rice recipe starts with making the dashi stock. I soaked two dried shiitake and some kombu in water over night. Then took out the mushrooms and sliced them to add to the rice ingredients. I washed one cup of Japanese rice and put this in my rice cooker. (when I say one cup it is the cup that comes with your rice cooker)To this I added 1 1/2 cups of dashi and 1/2 cup water. Then I added 11/2 tablespoons of Mirin and the same in tamari. Tamari is gluten free but you can add soy sauce if you wish. I also added about 1 inch of grated ginger. Also I like to use the small packets of mixed grains you can buy they have a mixture of brown,red,green and black rice,millet and Job’s tears. Add this if you have some .

I let the rice soak while I prepared my mushrooms. I used a mixture of shiitake,shimeji,enoki,maitake and eryngii. I also sliced thinly some carrot and aburaage. Gobo ( burdock root ) sliced thinly is also a traditional ingredient in this dish. Now place your ingredients on top of the rice but do not mix in. Now put your rice on cook.

When it is done mix the vegetables and rice together and serve. It makes a lovely dish just on its own or it can accompany any meal.

Cooking the rice and vegetables together gives the rice a lovely rich flavour. If you want something more delicate then remember to add vegetables that have been cooked separate to the rice and mix them after.

 

Blog

Wafu Pasta

Wafu means Japanese style,so basically any non Japanese meal that is made with Japanese ingredients and given a Japanese twist is Wafu. One of the most well know wafu pasta is Naporitan or Napolitan. In one of my other posts I have explained about this meal and I have given an alternative to using the traditional sausages. Normally the ingredients are tomato ketchup sausages,onion,mushrooms and green bell pepper .

Other well know pasta dishes are Mentaiko, a sauce made with mayonnaise or butter with added fish like cod or shrimp.

Another is Ume shiso, this is made with olive oil,salted pickled plums and shimeji mushrooms, topped with shiso . I used toasted sesame oil with pickled shiso and Umeboshi.

This one is miso pasta. Interesting to know that miso pasta ingredients include bacon,scallops and potato in a miso sauce. I used eringii for the scallops and coconut bacon with sautéed potato.

Blog, Winter Food

Hayashi -rice

  • I brought back some dried maitake mushrooms from Japan and couldn’t wait to try them.
  • For this dish you could just as easily use fresh maitake .
  • Did you know that maitake is a good source of vitamin D ? Which makes it a good winter dish .
    Inspired by a meal I had at ain soph journey I made  this vegan hayashi-rice . Using a selection of  maitake and shimeji,enoki and eryngii mushrooms I sautéed them with onion .
  • Add a tablespoon of tomato purée and Worcestershire sauce each to a separate pan and warm through . To thicken the sauce I use  Kuzu powder. Just add a teaspoon to a little cold water to make a slurry before adding to your sauce .
  • Mix the sauce into your mushrooms .
  • Serve with rice and maybe a miso soup .

ビーガン
ハヤシライス
漬物
みそ汁