Japan joyously celebrates its seasons, and food is an important element of this tradition. Come winter and Japan warms your soul with its delicious soups and exotic seafood among other fare. If you’re here during this very special time, then make sure you indulge in the specialties of the season.
Crab is a quintessential part of Japanese winter gourmet. The snow crab or Zuwai-gani is an exquisite specialty; having different brand names according to the fishing port where they are unloaded. You have Matsuba-gani in Sanin and Tango, and Echizen-gani in Fukui and Ishikawa. The male snow crab, Echizen-gani, is aptly called “the king of crabs”, with its long proportions and delectable flavour. This is the only crab presented to the Imperial Family every year. The Alaska King Crab or Taraba-gani is another winter delicacy in Japan.
Combine your love for risk-taking and luxurious food to savour this expensive winter fare. The blowfish contains tetrodotoxin, a lethal poison, which chefs are intensively trained to remove when preparing the dish. But despite the high-stakes gamble involved, it continues to remain a much sought after, delicious yet deadly delicacy.
When the mercury dips, you know it’s time for oysters in Japan. Kaki, oysters, can be relished in many different preparations, but traditionally, they’re eaten raw on the half shell or off the grill, with a squeeze of lemon. They’re also celebratory food. Hiroshima offers oysters all through the year, but they’re best enjoyed during the long, cold winters.
Nabe is a simple, yet special treat for those chilly evenings, when family and friends gather around a pot of slowly simmering nabe on the dining table and share camaraderie and a hot meal. Containing various ingredients that are cooked together, this hot pot is a winter staple that warms you from the inside. The common ingredients for nabe include shellfish, oysters, fish, chicken, pork, meat, tofu products, daikon, Chinese cabbage, mushrooms, leafy veggies, sato imo or mountain potatoes, and leeks.
One cannot imagine Japan without miso soup. A traditional favourite, it’s a hearty meal in itself made with miso, tofu, nori and dashi. To this are added vegetables, meats or fish. The perfect miso soup has the ideal balance of ingredients that float and those that sink.
Discover the exotic basashi, a horse sashimi dish. A local specialty from Kyushu’s Kumamoto, try dipping the cold, raw meat in soy sauce and enjoy it with a drink.
Traditional Winter Breakfast
Traditional Japanese breakfasts are simple yet plentiful. Many petite portions make up a colourful and nutritious meal, with small, individual bowls of rice, vegetables, miso soup, tofu, grilled and salted salmon, pickles, nori and a rolled omelette. It’s the perfect start to the day!
Japanese food keenly reflects the intertwining of Japanese tradition with its seasons. Don’t miss this satisfying winter fare to keep you warm and happily satiated during the chilly months!