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Sushi

Blog, Spring Food, Winter Food

Setsubun & Risshun 2021

Setsubun on February 2nd marks again the changing micro seasons. It is said to be the New Years Eve of old, welcoming in Risshun the beginning of Spring. Wait isn’t Setsubun normally on the 3rd ? Astrologically it moves this year for the first time in 124 years. In fact over the next few it will flit back and forth. Next year going back to the 3rd then back to the 2nd in 2025 then every four years there on.

This is midway between the winter solstice and the spring equinox. Even though we are in the coldest days, in Japan you will start to see those signs that spring is near by. The days are just getting slightly longer and you can see the start of life emerging from the earth. Ume blossom is starting to bloom, giving those well needed splashes of colour to the brown landscape and maybe you might see  flashes of a little green bird known as Uguisu (bush warbler or the Japanese nightingale) another symbol of spring.
It is a good time to find comfort in the seasonal bounty of root vegetables, creating positive energy by cooking up stews and soups to warm the body.

Another thing I like to do is make warming comforting drinks, one of my favourite being a Houjicha soymilk latte. Houjicha or ( Hojicha ) is Japanese green tea that has been roasted rather than steamed. This alters the colour from green to brown and tastes earthy and nutty, it also makes this tea very low in caffeine. I like the Dark roast or Gold Houjicha both from Kyoto Obubu tea farms and would definitely recommend trying out their tea selection.

Why not make this on a cold afternoon, perfect for a snow day relaxing at home. Just use around one – two heaped tablespoons of Houjicha in a pan and simmer on a low heat with a cup of soy milk adding a little sweetener if you like ( rice malt syrup is especially nice ). Let the soymilk simmer slowly for around ten minutes do not boil.


Then transfer to a milk frother or blender. I like to sprinkle a little powdered Houjicha on top.

It is custom on Setsubun to make a long sushi roll known as Eho-Maki and eat it in silence facing the years lucky direction (this year being south-south east) and make your wish for the year ahead.


Maybe if we all wished for the same thing it may come true! I think we all want the world to heal so we can get back to normal. I’m definitely missing my travels to Japan like many of you.

The fat sushi roll must include 7 ingredients after the seven lucky gods (shichifukuji) This year I decided to use atsuage, violet cabbage, komatsuna, daikon tsukemono, baby corn, asparagus and carrot.     If you want to know more about Setsubun customs just search Setsubun for more information. Let’s welcome in the Spring.

 

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Oroshi-Soba And Hanami Meal

This year many of us will not be able to have hanami parties outside with friends and will be celebrating at home . Just as the Sakura blooms and falls let’s hope that the world situation will pass in time . I decided to make a spring meal although the weather turned today from warm to windy and quite chilly, however I’m lucky enough to have a cherry tree in my garden and do not have to go outside for hanami and the warmth of the last few days had started to open the blooms.
My meal consisted of vinegared cucumber and vegan crab salad, Temari sushi with vegan sashimi, Oroshi soba and sake sakura kanten jelly.

I prepared the cucumber by salting first, after I had washed the salt off after about 15 mins I  then added this to a bowl with jackfruit, lime juice, brown rice vinegar, chopped red chilli and sesame seeds. You can also see the vegan crab meat recipe on my recipe for Vegan crab sushi salad. Having vinegared cucumber always reminds me of a child when I would go round to my grandmothers house for Sunday tea. It would take her all afternoon to prepare a massive Sunday spread for the family. My mother would help my grandmother while my father and grandfather would go for a drink at the local pub. I would play outside in my grand parents garden often sneaking in to their greenhouse to pick a ripe tomato directly off the vine (nothing better).

I also made bite sized sushi balls known as Temari sushi. With seasoned sushi rice and mock tuna sashimi. You can find Temari sushi recipes on my recipe page plus how to make the vegan tuna on my recipe for tekka don ( tuna rice bowl ).

Oroshi Soba is a chilled minimalist dish, ideal for summer. It consists of chilled soba noodles in a dashi broth. Oroshi refers to the grated daikon. By adding this and a few simple ingredients like chopped green onion it makes a refreshing filling meal.

This was the last of my daikon I had brought back from London a few weeks ago when I went to see the kimono exhibition at the V&A.

Now we are all confined to our homes and getting ingredients is becoming increasingly harder, so for me not only was this meal special because of the daikon but the soba noodles had been sent to me from Japan . I’m already running low on Japanese food supplies as I was expecting to be in Japan in a few weeks but now that’s not the case and on line ordering is mostly sold out. Each meal is going to be precious as I use up the last of my ingredients. When all this is over I’m going to seriously stock up ! Probably taking empty suitcases to bring back food from Japan. I’m also really going to appreciate all the more my next trip to Japan and I think any of us will appreciate our travels and holidays a lot more from now on. For me even something so simple as going to the supermarket which was something I actually enjoyed is now full of anxiety.
It was with great joy I managed to add a veg box into my basket in my online delivery which had been out of stock all week. So many things we take for granted.
With the last of the sake in the fridge I added it to a pan with a little fruit tea ( you could use fruit juice ) and made a jelly with kanten flakes. Adding a salted Sakura into the jelly mould .

As I sit safe at home, I give thanks to all the hospital staff, doctors, nurses and people in the community, police, delivery drivers, super market workers and online shops, that are helping us all get through these trying times. Thank you to you all . I wish you all now more than ever health and safety, we can get through this in time. It’s going to be hard but we must remain strong. Now is the time to maybe start up a new hobby or rekindle an old one. Cherish loved ones and turn to simpler times. Hopefully as we go through the year things will get easier and more back to normal, but let’s not forget this and how we may often take things for granted. Like the Sakura life is fleeting.

Blog, Spring Food

Japanese Micro Season Part 24 大寒 Daikan Greater cold

January 20–24  冬華   Fuki no hana saku  Butterburs bud

January 25-29 水沢腹堅  Kiwamizu kōri tsumeru Ice thickens on streams

January 30- February 3 鶏始乳 Niwatori hajimete toya ni tusku hens start laying eggs

I actually want to talk a bit about what happens right at the end of this micro season on February 3rd. This day is regarded as particularly important as it is the transition from winter to spring. The day before the first day of spring on February 3rd is called Setsubun. On this day there are a few customs in Japan one of them is to eat an uncut makizushi called (eho-maki ) while you sit in silence facing the years lucky direction, 2020 being west south west and make a wish for the rest of the coming year. The eho-maki must have seven ingredients, these relate to the seven lucky gods Shichifukujin.

Another Setsubun custom is for the male person of the house to wear a demon mask called ( oni ) and then throw roasted soy beans at other family members and out of the door while shouting “ Oniwa soto Futuwa uchi ! ” meaning demons out luck in. This ritual is called Mamemaki or bean scattering and as well as doing it at home shrines and temples hold this ritual also and many people go to partake in the Oni oi-Shiki ceremony. Women may sometimes wear the otafuku mask which is Lady Luck.


As well as the roasted soybean scattering it is custom to eat as many soybeans as your age plus one for the year to come to insure a year of good health.
Why not try making a long sushi roll for yourself this year. Fillings can be anything you like . Try asparagus, cucumber, tofu, kanpyo, shiitake, carrot or a vegan style cutlet.
I always like to celebrate Setsubun to welcome in the new spring season, although spring still feels a very long way off at the moment but the small signs are there if care to take a look.

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Sushi Lunch

A sushi lunch to day.
Mini cucumber sushi rolls and Gunkan maki sushi .
Gunkan actually translates as warship .
This is super easy just seasoned sushi rice wrapped in nori with various toppings . Just make sure you cut your nori a little higher than your rice to hold your toppings.
My toppings included maitake mushrooms with bamboo shoots,avocado and pickled red cabbage, broccoli and asparagus,umeboshi,Sakura,hijiki and sushi ginger.

軍艦巻寿司

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Pink Sushi

Again in celebration of the Sakura blooming in Japan and my own Sakura .
I made pink sushi for lunch . Also having this with a Sakura scone .
ピンクの寿司とサクラスコーン
幸せな花見季節
?????

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Asparagus Sushi Rolls

Spring time asparagus sushi rolls with ponzu dipping sauce to day for lunch . A yuzu green tea and azuki bean chocolate brownie with matcha .
春の時間アスパラガス、寿司、ポンズとポン酢.
ゆず茶
小豆チョコレートブラウニー