Japan is legendary for its otsumami, that means ‘the nibbles you’ve whereas ingesting’, which are available many varieties: scorching or chilly, uncooked or cooked, meat, fish or plant-based, with totally different varieties discovered throughout the nation. Whereas Osaka’s Dotonbori district is the place to hunt out takoyaki octopus balls and okonomiyaki pancakes, town of Fukuoka, on Kyushu, my native island, is the house of yakitori (skewered hen) and yatai (avenue meals stalls) serving an array of different snacks.
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Japan’s third-largest island, Kyushu, is named ‘meals island’, due to its plentiful produce. Kyushu has fertile soil and a local weather that’s good for rising fruit and greens. It’s additionally recognized for its wonderful seafood. Seasonality is on the core of Japanese delicacies and meals tradition, too. We actually have a particular phrase, ‘shun’, which describes the precise second when a vegetable is at its finest, a fruit at its sweetest or a fish at its most flavourful.
In springtime throughout Japan, we’ll eat loads of greens like cauliflower and watercress and many scrumptious seafood like sake-steamed clams. It’s additionally the time of 12 months once we have fun hanami — the act of viewing the cherry blossom — which is all about assembly pals, consuming bento and having a couple of drinks.
Summer season in Japan is scorching and humid, so we gorge on thirst-quenching greens like cucumber, edamame beans or tomatoes. Chilly or chilled dishes like chilly noodle soup are common for serving to individuals beat the warmth, too. It’s matsuri (festivals) season, too, the place yatai stalls serve seasonal specialities.
Autumn is the season of hearty appetites — there’s a feast of riches from the land, resembling mushrooms and aubergine, but in addition from the ocean (mackerel and salmon) and the sky (duck). Winters are chilly, so we depend on hardy greens like potatoes and cabbages to maintain us nourished, together with onions and garlic, that are stated to warmth our our bodies, to not point out crabs and oysters, in season all through the winter.
That is an edited extract from Otsumami, by Atsuko Ikeda, printed by Ryland Peters & Small, £20.