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  • Shona McCarthy

Top 5 Japanese Dishes for Autumn

Updated: Mar 16


While I had been missing the Japanese spring very much, it occurred to me that I should try to learn ways to better enjoy the Autumn time in my own country. After all, it is Autumn in Australia. With that in mind, I decided to find out what foods are usually eaten in Japan during the Autumn time and recipes to go with them in case you'd like to try them for yourself.


Sanma Sanma is a specific species of fish found in the seas around Asia, Alaska and Mexico. It is long and thin, with a small mouth and silver skin. In Japan they are literally called "Autumn Knife Fish" and is served many ways and with many seasonings around that time of year. But the most popular and well-known method is grilling. So, I have included a recipe on how to grill sanma. It is said that sanma is a relatively sustainable fish. Before I became I vegetarian, I had this dish once in Kansai airport. It was a very umami, savoury taste. Though I was warned to stay away from the dark meat, since some find that part too strong or gamey.

(Image borrowed from https://www.lowcarbingasian.com/)


BBQ Grilled Pacific Saury – Sanma


Chestnuts


While visiting Yokohama Chinatown, I saw many vendors roasting chestnuts on the street. What I later learned is that chestnuts are absolutely essential to the experience of the Japanese autumn. The species of chestnut most commonly eating in Japan is distinct from that of Europe since it originates specifically in Japan and Korea. However, there are recipes involving chestnuts you can do at home with whatever chestnuts you have.


Chestnut Rice (Kuri Gohan)


Persimmons


The same species of persimmon one can find in China is also available in Korea and Japan. Persimmons hold a significant position in Japanese culture, partly due to an ancient poetry location called "Rakushisha" in Arashiyama. I had the blessing of seeing Rakushisha for myself. It is indeed an ancient straw-thatched hut which got its name from a persimmon tree that once stood in its yard. It is unknown whether or not the persimmon tree that currently grows there is the same tree the famous poets saw there. But it is nice to imagine.

(Image borrowed from thespruceeats.com.) Hoshigaki (Japanese Dried Persimmons)


Matsutake Mushrooms


Matsutake mushroooms can often be a very expensive food to obtain. The trees that the matsutake likes to grow under have become sadly very rare since they have been attacked by disease. So, when you can have a matsutake mushroom, you should make the most of it! They have a strong earthy smell and taste.

Matsutake Gohan (Wild Pine Mushroom Rice)


Japanese Pumpkins


Japanese pumpkins might be one of the easiest traditional Japanese foods to obtain, since they are common in supermarkets around the world and are often quite affordable. Interestingly, they didn't originate from Japan itself but rather were introduced by the Portuguese who brought them over from Cambodia. You could do everything with a Japanese pumpkin that you would do with any other kind. But I wanted to find a recipe that is particularly traditional and well-liked.

Simmered Kabocha Squash (Japanese Pumpkin)


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