Contributor: Elizabeth Andoh

Sept.12

A Taste of Culture – NANBAN-ZUKÉ: Southern Barbarian Cookery

Sept.12 Elizabeth Andoh

The Portuguese missionaries and merchants who came to Japan late in the 16th century arrived by way of southern waterways, settling in the port of Nagasaki, Kyushu. The Japanese referred to them as nanban jin or the “southern barbarians.” In addition to Christianity and trade, these early Portuguese visitors brought with them escabeche, a fried…

Sept.08

A Taste of Culture – Domburi Big Bowls

Sept.08 Elizabeth Andoh

The word DOMBURI refers to both the deep ceramic dish and the food served in it. Typically a generous portion of rice is topped with sauced meat, fish, and /or vegetables to make a filling, satisfying meal. Often left-overs are re-purposed in making the topping — a frugal and quick way to get dinner on…

June.10

A Taste of Culture – Kitchen Strategies

June.10 Elizabeth Andoh

TSUYU (literally, “plum rain”) arrives in Japan every year as spring turns to summer. Weather is newsworthy in the Japanese media, and a welcome respite this year from corona virus-related coverage. Just as the blooming of cherry blossoms is reported in detail, so TSUYU IRI (“entering the rainy season”) is also rigorously tracked. The average…

May.11

A Taste of Culture – TSUDOI PROJECT

May.11 Elizabeth Andoh

TSUDOI 集 means “get-together” in Japanese… it is the opposite of social distancing. Here in Japan, the mandate for social distancing is worded differently. We are cautioned to avoid MITSU no MITSU (三つの密) or 3 kinds of situations (that begin with the same calligraphy, MI ) : MIPPEI (密閉)– poorly ventilated spaces, MISSHU(密集)– crowds of…

Apr.13

A Taste of Culture – RICE BUNDLES by Elizabeth Andoh

Apr.13 Elizabeth Andoh

Some people call them OMUSUBI, others call them ONIGIRI, the Japanese language today has two words for pressed rice bundles. Both begin with an honorific “o,” showing that rice, no matter what you call it, is a food to be honored. Each of the words, onigiri and omusubi, derive from verbs that describe the compressing…

Oct.09

A Taste of Culture – UMÉ SHIGOTO

Oct.09 Elizabeth Andoh

Incessant tsuyu rain is soon to be supplanted by sultry summer days. That’s when the emphasis in the kitchen, shifts to sawayaka “refreshing” foods, and sappari “clean” tastes. By the way, these words can also describe someone’s outlook or attitude to life, in general: sawayaka na kibun (a bright, buoyant mood) and sappari shita hito…

May.14

A Taste of Culture SORA MAMÉ

May.14 Elizabeth Andoh

SORA MAMÉ Fava Beans Fava beans have been part of the eastern Mediterranean diet (Egypt, Greece, Italy) for at least 4000 years. There are stories of monks from India traveling through China bringing favas to Japan in the Nara Period (710-794 AD). However, the first written evidence they were consumed in Japan is mention in…

Mar.08

A Taste of Culture SETSUBUN

Mar.08 Elizabeth Andoh

節分 setsu (season) + bun (break) Setsubun is literally a break between seasons and occurs several times during the year. But the setsubun that is noted on calendars today in Japan is on February 3. In China and many other places in Asia it corresponds to the start of the lunar New Year. In Japan…

Dec.09

A Taste of Culture ODEN

Dec.09 Elizabeth Andoh

by Elizabeth Andoh ODEN おでん Japan’s iconic ODEN is a slow-simmered, hodgepodge: fish sausages, daikon radishes, octopus, potatoes, boiled eggs, konnyaku (a broth-absorbing, speckled aspic processed from a tuber vegetable), and all sorts of tōfu. On the first chilly nights of autumn, oden is welcomed back to the family dinner table, pub-like izakaya menus and…

Sept.12

Autumnal Eggplant 秋茄子 “aki nasu”

Sept.12 Elizabeth Andoh

by Elizabeth Andoh Botanically a fruit, not a vegetable, eggplant (Solanum melongena) is a member of the nightshade family (as is the tomato and potato). Thought to have originated in India thousands of years ago, the Chinese were probably the first to make use of eggplant in a culinary manner. Widely known throughout Asia, eggplant…


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