i pretty much always sound like i cry for the moon. for foods in particular. i am envious of foreign countries where there are so many varieties of produce, while we have only several over here in japan. i miss english cox and granny smith very much. as for green apples, we have just two different kinds as far as i know. besides, they look almost the same and their tastes are not so different from one another. so i ask myself: do i have anything i can’t get easily over there? absolutely yes. i should stop complaining about my country then.
梨 nashi (japanese pears) for example, our pears are not in “pear shape”, they are all round like a full moon. and sizes are quite big. even though we have no stylish farmers’ markets, we have a long history of making direct-from-the-farm arrangements. it is often used as a seasonal gift and there must be someone kind enough to do so in the circle of families and friends. in fact, my mother received it from her sister-in-law. the gift arrived in a box and each pear was exquisitely wrapped. never mind english cox. i love local stuff, too.
i shouldn’t forget “proper” persimmons, 柿 kaki. they have crunchy firm texture unlike soft ones i had in london. recently, i tried my old recipe of autumn salad with persimmon and 大根 daikon (japanese radish) for the first time in a long while. also, we have “real” sweet potatoes and purple ones are fashionable. i relish cooked sweet potatoes with apple and raisins or prunes, which is my stable. i like having it with mayonnaise and its surface browned. no sugar is needed when boiled. it’s naturally sweet.
meanwhile, 蓮根 renkon (lotus roots/rhizomes) sprang to my mind when i was reading a thick book about nelumbo nucifera, the sacred lotus. then, fancying hot lotus root tempura made my mouth watering. but this time, i wanted to try an old recipe, which was also among my long-forgotten japanese tastes. that’s how 金平蓮根 kinpira-renkon made a comeback on my table this season.
japanese pears: when delivered they are tightly protected just like “being wrapped in cotton wool”? also, wrappers are normally pretty. it’s hard for me to throw them away.
did you know that we japanese always peel round fruits like this?
a typical fruit bowl on my autumn table. by the way, we have only one western variety of pear, ラフランス la france. our infamous “chow-chow language” coined the name.
this is 王林 orin: one of the two green apples in japan. another one is トキ toki, a new comer, which i am going to taste it. the two look too much alike, though.
富有柿 fuyu-gaki: seedless ones are popular and common now. we have quite many different varieties of persimmon in comparison with other countries.
kaki & daikon salad: my kind of autumnal fruit salad. slice radish and persimmon as thinly as possible. i added some grated onion to my soy-sauce-base vinaigrette.
chunky sweet potato casserole: cut sweet potatoes and apples into bite-size chunks. add raisins or prunes and boil them together in water with a pinch of salt. squeeze mayonnaise (every ready-made mayo comes in a tube in japan) onto the boiled sweet potatoes and put under the grill to brown. if i liked it rich, i’d add butter, cream, cheese and even sugar to this. but rather, i prefer to cook this way so that i can taste the natural flavour and sweetness of sweet potato and apple.
金平蓮根 kinpira renkon: slice lotus roots as thinly as possible. sauté them in sesame oil. add sugar, soy-sauce and 味醂 mirin. 胡麻 goma (sesame seeds) are pretty essential for a better flavour. i like sprinkle 鷹の爪 takano-tsume (chilli pepper) over it to spice up.
enjoy your autumn harvest this weekend, too!