From my table to yours. I hope you enjoy this collection of seasonal recipes showcasing the flavors I return to year after year here in the countryside of Japan.
A few were learned from cooking with my mother-in-law, Kuniko. She rarely had time to explain so I watched and learned. I stood at her elbow or peered over her shoulder. I hastily scribbled notes on scraps of paper stained with dashi and soy and only later properly dictated them into a homemade collection of loose recipes. I never saw Kuniko use a standard measure; she doled out spoonfuls of vinegar and capfuls of soy. If I ever asked for a measurement she would respond tekitou which means a suitable amount. It took me years to learn that tekitou is the only reasonable answer.
I too now season my dishes with suitable pinches and splashes. It takes a while to train the eye and instinct to gauge amounts but it’s truly the only effective and efficient way to cook from scratch day after day and night after night.
The following recipes – or receipts as they were once more appropriately called – employ general measurements to get you started. But they are all tekitou, what seemed suitable to me at the time. Over time you will craft your own versions of these dishes and adjust them to your liking. Recipes are a useful platform from which to leap, but they are rarely useful for very long. What salt to sweet ratio you like evolves with your physiology. What you crave will change as quickly as your mood. My tastes vary day to day and yours will too, as will those of the family and friends at your table. It’s important to stay flexible.
Many recipes will offer you variations and suggest substitutions but I want to preserve the dishes I learned from Kuniko just as she taught me and share them with you in their original form. Plus I don’t know where you live and what’s in season there. So if you can’t get your hands on one of the ingredients, just imagine what might be a suitable replacement. Get creative and be adventurous – it’s the only real way to learn.
Join me in a five-day feast for the senses. We’ll dive deep into the beauty of Japan's landscape and local culinary and craft traditions. We’ll visit markets and ateliers, forage, cook, and share the flavors of the season.
come to mirukashi