Grilled as you like it

Early summer’s bounty June 24, 2009

Filed under: Eating,Four seasons in Japan,Japan,Maebashi — laurel @ 10:27 pm
Tags: , , , ,

shoku-no-eki june

June in Japan: spring turns to summer. The winter wheat turns golden and bows under the weight of the plump heads of grain. The harvested fields are replaced by new-grass-green rice seedlings. The glorious pink azaeleas spill their blossoms onto the pavement below shopfront window boxes. Ajisai (hydrangea), possibly my favorite Japanese blossom, unfurls it’s cheerful pom-poms of color. And welcome too to the rainy season. Everywhere there is color along the ground, but the sky is mostly grey.

The bounty of early summer provides a much needed contrast to June’s drizzly grey skies. In June we say goodbye to the last of the spring vegetables and welcome the early fruits of summer. So what’s in season now? Here’s a sampling of what I bought on the first weekend of June. Almost everything was grown in the city of Maebashi or in Gunma prefecture (except for the citrus, which is from Wakayama prefecture, and the biwa (loquats) from Nagasaki).

Spring fruits and vegetables:
kara oranges
ama-natsu oranges
biwa (loquats)
gyouja ninniku (I think these are ramps)

Summer vegetables:
baby corn
green beans

By last weekend, the citrus and strawberries were finished but the cherries, melons, and eggplants have come into season now. I’ve especially been enjoying delicious watermelons from Ota city in Gunma. I also have some onions, carrots, new potatoes, and daikon that I harvested from the Kobayashi’s organic garden at the sweet potato farm that I’m looking forward to.


2 Responses to “Early summer’s bounty”

  1. Malia Says:

    Your posts and photos all make me so homesick for Japan, but it’s the food and fresh produce I miss most (okay, and shopping in general). It’s so great how the more local foods are often far less expensive there.

    Have you tried making sea asparagus yet? Got some from the Japanese market here in Vancouver. So good.

    Are you making your own umeboshi this year? I really want to, but can’t find the right type of ume.

    • laurel Says:

      Hi Malia, it’s good to hear from you. I do really love the produce here. I’ll miss a lot of the delicious fresh things that I can’t get in Colorado when we go home (but we’ve still got one more year, yeah!)

      We don’t have sea asparagus in Maebashi: I hadn’t heard that name before but I think it’s the same vegetable as sea beans, samphire, and salicornia. We used to get them every once in a while at a sushi bar that I worked at in Lafayette. I liked them in a shiromi tartare. Yummy 🙂 We do have a type of iceplant here called “barafu” that has that same kind of crunchy and naturally salty thing going on though. Apparently it’s also know as “ficoide glacial,” and while I was looking that up, I found out that the Japanese name probably comes from the Swahili word for ice… I guess it’s true that you learn something every day.

      Funny that you should mention ume, I just got some from the same teacher that I got them from last year. He said that the harvest was really bad this year (he usually gets 300 kg, but this year he finished harvesting in just 10 minutes). So those ume only made one jar of jam and I’ve been on a desperate search this afternoon to find enough green ones to make ume-shu and some more jam… I finally found them at a local Fressay. So ume-shu and jam will be my big project for tonight.

      I’ve been linked to a few times from various American food blogs, so it sounds like they’re starting to sell ume at farmers’ markets in LA and maybe NYC. I heard that they have them at Uwajimaya on the west coast sometimes too. I’m totally building a plan in my mind that after I get home I’ll invest in some ume trees so I can keep myself in ume-shu and ume jam for the rest of my life (Apparently you can buy the trees, they’re called Japanese fragrant plums). Anyways, good luck in your search for real ume. I’m off to start jamming.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s