小満 Shōman (Lesser ripening)
May 21–25 蚕起食桑 Kaiko okite kuwa o hamu Silkworms start feasting on mulberry leaves
May 26–30 紅花栄 Benibana sakau Safflowers bloom
May 31–June 5 麦秋至 Mugi no toki itaru Wheat ripens and is harvested
The summer heat is starting to be felt now as temperatures rise in Japan. There is a vibrant spurt of growth in the fields.
Safflowers blooms are picked to make natural textile dyes ranging from yellow to red in colour.
Towards the end of this micro season the wheat is harvested. People often forget that wheat is important in Japanese cooking because rice takes the forefront. However we must remember that noodles are made from wheat so we would have no ramen, somen, or udon without it. Also we have the barley to make barley miso or barley tea known as mugi cha, I particularly like this one by Sabo it is an organic roasted barley that is loose instead of in a teabag form.
Of course beer is very popular in the hot summers of Japan with Asahi, Ebisu, Kirin, and Sapporo beer springing to mind. Do you have a favourite Japanese beer brand ?
As the temperatures start to rise cold noodles are enjoyed why not make Hiyashi Chuka a dish of cold ramen with various toppings and a dressing. It’s nice to choose refreshing vegetables for your ramen like cucumber and tomato, bell peppers and sweetcorn maybe. Then a dressing made with soy sauce and vinegar. I have a recipe on my pages with a lovely refreshing dressing. You could also make Tsukemen or dipping ramen. Ramen is dipped into a hot soup. Somen noodles are very much a favourite of summer in Japan
The noodles are very fine and are normally served chilled with ice and condiments for dipping and serving. Again I have a recipe on my pages for somen dishes.
I hope that over the summer you can try making a chilled noodle dish for yourself.