Every season has its own taste. The flavours of each season should be tried before the season gives its way back to the next. These are some spring specials of Japan. It will be nice enjoying Hanami with seasonal Japanese foods.
Photo: Yuichi Sakuraba on Flickr
Mochi is the Japanese sticky rice cake. Mochi making is associated with almost all important occasions in Japan. There are so many varieties of mochi available here based on the locations, seasons etc. Sakuramochi is the sweet pink coloured mochi of spring. Even though it is pink coloured, there are no ingredients from Sakura used in it other than the leaf used to cover the mochi. Pink colour is provided using some red food colour or jam. Inside this rice roll, there will be sweet red bean paste (anko). As Sakura or the cherry blossoms are the flowers that make the spring of Japan perfect, Sakuramochi is the special taste during this time. Japanese used to eat the Sakuramochi during Hanami (cherry blossom viewing) and while celebrating Hinamatsuri, the girl’s festival on March 3rd.
Nanohana is the rapeseed plants that are common during the beginning of spring season. By February, the tender stems with flower buds at the tip will be available at the supermarkets. Karashiae is the common Japanese dish made with Nanohana. It is cooked Nanohana seasoned with mustard.
3. Ichigo Daifuku
Daifuku are the sweet mochi with Anko(sweet red bean paste) that are usually available. But the spring version of this mochi came with whole Strawberry at the centre. It is a Japanese traditional taste with the mixed sweetness of the mochi, Anko and strawberry.
4. Sakura Taiyaki
Sakura Mochi Taiyaki
Photo: Vanny on Flickr
Taiyaki is a very common sweet of Japan which is a fish shaped cake. Usually this cake contains sweet red bean paste fillings. Some shops have pink coloured sakura flavour of taiyaki during spring.
Kashiwamochi is another type of mochi that is eaten during boy’s festival celebrated on May 5. It is the white sticky rice cake with Anko fillings in it. The speciality of this mochi is in the oak leaf in which it is wrapped. Chimaki is another type of rice dumplings wrapped in bamboo leaves that are consumed during this festival.
6. Young Bamboo Shoots
Young Bamboo shoots are used in cooking during the spring and summer seasons. It is usually served with rice or seasoned with some sauce. Takenoko is the Japanese word for this. People used to go for digging out these seasonal shoots.
7. Seasonal Weeds
Most of the wild leafy vegetables are added in the Japanese diet during spring as they make new shoots and stalks just after the winter. Tsukushi is the horsetail which gives out some stalks during the early spring season. These will be seen aside marshy lands and fields. These stalks are collected and cooked with egg or meat to serve as a special spring dish. Japanese knotweeds are also available in plenty during this time.
Photo: CJ Platinos on Flickr
Strawberry could be seen in most desserts and sweets of spring as it is the main fruit of the season. Sakura flavoured snacks are another main attraction of spring. Most of such items come with a pink colour similar to Sakura flowers which fill an environment reflecting spring and the cherry blossoms in the stores as well.