Spring – Seasonal Food of Japan
Every season has its own taste. The flavours of each season should be tried before the season gives way to the next. These are some of the best spring specials of Japan. Enjoy your next Hanami (flower-viewing) party with these seasonal Japanese foods!
1. Sakura Mochi
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
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 filling. Some shops sell pink sakura flavoured taiyaki in spring.
5. Kashiwa Mochi
Kashiwa mochi is another type of mochi that is eaten during the Children’s Day festival celebrated on May 5. It is a white sticky rice cake with anko (adzuki bean) filling. The speciality of this mochi is in the oak leaf in which it is wrapped. Chimaki is another type of rice dumpling, wrapped in bamboo leaves, that is 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 a sauce. Takenoko is the Japanese word for this. People used to go out digging 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 eggs or meat to serve as a special spring dish. Japanese knotweeds are also available in plenty during this time.
Photo: CJ Platinos on Flickr
Strawberries can also 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 these foods come with a pink colour similar to Sakura flowers , which give the shops and food stalls a festive spring atmosphere.