BEAUTY OF THE SEASONS WINTER FOOD
In Japan, winter temperatures often get down to below freezing. On these chilly days, people are in the mood for hot pot, which is a dish similar to steamboat in Malaysia. There are various types and flavours of hot pot, some use special local regional ingredients and others blend soups, sauces and spices, to create countless different flavours. Among the various types of hot pot, Shabu-shabu and Sukiyaki are most popular in Japan and you can also find halal restaurants that serve these. Oden is another popular type of hot pot in winter and is easily found in convenience stores. As hot pot is eaten from a hot plate placed in the middle of the dining table, it is a great way to gather around with your friends and family to have warm and friendly conversation while eating.
There are also many winter seasonal fruits such as the Yuzu, a Japanese citrus fruit. Although it can’t be eaten whole, its juice and peel is widely used in cooking and for making fresh juice and gelato, similar to the way coconuts are used in Malaysia. The New Year’s holiday time also brings with it a number of seasonal dishes. Some include Toshikoshi-Soba, Japanese long noodles made from buckwheat flour which, when eaten on New Year’s eve, represent a long and prosperous year, and the colourful Osechi Japanese traditional New Year’s dishes. Each of the ingredients and dishes in Osechi has an auspicious meaning and it usually comprises of many varieties of small portions, so that you can enjoy not only many different tastes but also the beautiful colours and arrangements.
RECOMMENDED WINTER SEASONAL FOOD MENU
Sukiyaki & Shabu-shabu
Sukiyaki is a popular hot pot dish in Japan. Thin-slices of beef, cooked with various ingredients and vegetables such as Japanese leek, tofu and noodles made from Konnyaku jelly are boiled together in a special broth of soy sauce, sugar and sake, in a table-top cast-iron pan. The food is often dipped and eaten with raw egg. Another popular hot pot dish is Shabu-shabu where thin sliced beef is cooked quickly in boiling water or hot flavoured stock.
Oden is similar to Yang Tau Foo in which vegetables, eggs, and fish balls are stewed in special soup made with soy sauce. It is a popular dish to be made at home, but you can also find it in convenience stores, roadside stalls, restaurants and specialty shops.
Winter seasonal fruits
In Japan, each season harvests different seasonal fruits. You can enjoy various fruits in winter such as Yuzu, which is a citrus fruit which resembles an orange (see picture), and strawberries. In December, especially around Christmas time, you can see a lot of strawberry cakes for sale in many places.