Japanese Cooking Blog with Asako Nonaka #4
Asako Nonaka ◆ May 2, 2015
Hi! I am Asako. How are you doing? I moved to Japan on April 27th due to my husband’s job. I still retain a lot of precious memories during the 3 years in NY. I was so happy to meet a lot of great people through Japanese cooking. Thanks again to everyone who I met in NY. I am going to continue to spread healthy Japanese cooking and I hope I will visit NY again for my own work in the future. So please wait for me till then.
I am staying at my husband’s parent’s house and I have eaten many delicious Japanese dishes like sushi, hot pot, grilled fish, hamburger, pickled vegetables and miso soup. One of the reasons why I am interested in Japanese food is because the dishes that they cooked were very delicious. I remembered that I wanted to cook like them when I was just a beginner in cooking.
Japanese food doesn’t use high calorie ingredients like butter and oil but it’s very tasty because Japanese cooking uses dashi (soup stock) and fermented seasonings like soy sauce, sake and mirin. When we bite one piece, the umami spreads out on our tongue and fills our heart gently as well. It’s not only delicious but also nutrient rich because of using a lot of vegetables.
Have you ever heard of “Primary food” and “Secondary food”? They are the words that I learned at the Institute for Integrative Nutrition. According to the school, the food that we eat everyday from our mouth into our body is defined as secondary food. So what is primary food? It’s a food for our mind. If the mind is not satisfied, the nutrients don’t work in the body perfectly. On the other hand, if the mind is fulfilled, the bad reactions are less effective to eat un-nutritious food.
Last week I was very busy doing packing and saying good-bye to friends so I had eaten irregularly and slept less hours than usual. But it was a very happy time to spend with my friends so I hadn’t been worried about digestive and skin troubles. Furthermore I had a reunion with my family in Japan and I felt that the nutrients had more effects on my body. How we eat is more important than what we eat. I recommend focusing and adjusting our mind in a good way. Then when we add nutritious foods into our body, we will become healthy. I am going to explain the method to bring our mind towards a good mood in further blogs.
Let’s talk about the 24 Sekki, the old almanac representing the changing seasons in Japan. In my last blog, I introduced Kokuu and this time I will explain “立夏 Rikka” which literally means “beginning of summer” and the period is from May 6th to May 20th. In this almanac, the summer starts from the day of rikka to the previous day of risshu. In rikka the temperature is not hot usually but the temperature on April 27th when I moved to Japan was 78°F, so I felt like it was summer already.
I want to introduce one Japanese seasonal event on May 5th called “Tango no sekku”, which is a festival for boys since the old days in Japan. It is still a boy’s festival but since the Edo period May 5th has become a national holiday for children called “Kodomo no hi” as well. People pray for good health and drive away evil spirits. They put a “shobu” leaf in the bathtub and clean their body, and eat “Kashiwa-mochi” which is rice cake wrapped with the leaf of oak (“kashiwa”) because oak never dies until the next seed grows so it means the child will live longer than its parents. They put a carp streamer (“Koinobori”) in the yard and pray for their children’s growth and thank their mother as well.
Kashiwamochi is made from rice flour and red bean paste. It’s very tasty and the oak leaf smells great.
If you want to buy this sweet, I recommend the Japanese confectionery store “Minamoto Kicho-an” in NY, San Francisco, London, Singapore, Shanghai and Ginza.
(Minamoto Kicho-an Website: http://www.kitchoan.com)
Have a good beginning of summer!