Fuyu no aji is the seasonal flavors during the Winter.
Winter foods in Japan focus on warming the body with hotpot type meals and hearty, savory ingredients. The winter vegetables are naturally sweet and flavorful, perfect for these hotpot dishes.
Daikon is a Japanese radish. In the Summer it’s bitter, pungent, and strong, In the Winter, however, it becomes softer and sweeter.
You’ll find it grated and used as a condiment to things like sushi/sashimi still, but you’ll also find it cut into blocks and used in other dishes such as nabemono and oden.
Yuzu is a citrus fruit, often referred to as Chinese lemon. In the hot summer months, the yuzu is used to refresh and cool dishes.
In the Winter you’ll find the peel is used to add flavor to nabemono (hotpots). Or maybe even used in miso soup to create a yuzu-miso base.
Hakusai is Chinese cabbage. You’ll know Winter has arrived when all the Japanese supermarkets bring in hakusai by the truckload.
It’s cheap and large, which makes it a great value — and the main ingredient in nabemono dishes.
It’s also salt-pickled and used for condiments or side dishes. The salty flavor works well with hakusai because of the high water contents inside the plant.
This is anko as in the angler fish — not anko the red bean paste. Anko is one of those fish where everything is consumed, except the head and bones. The skin and everything else is often found in nabemono.
Fugu is a type of pufferfish. It’s is the infamous poisonous fish that must be prepared by a licensed chef.
Fugu is often eaten as sashimi, but in the winter it is found in nabemono too – plus some really potent hot sake drinks.
Kaki is oysters. They are eaten raw at some oyster bars found throughout Tokyo or even grilled to bring out a whole new side of the dish.
And there you have it — a quick look through the various flavors based on the season in Japan. Of course, this chapter isn’t all-encompassing but does give you an idea of how tastes change throughout the year.
Up next we’ll show you some things to avoid in Tokyo.
Next Page: Chapter 5: What To Avoid In Tokyo?