Kotatsu

Warm kotatsu
Warm kotatsu

The only good thing about chilly weather in Japan, in my opinion, is the kotatsu. It’s an iconic piece of Japanese furniture, consisting of a low table with a heater in the top. A blanket is draped over to keep the heat trapped inside, and it is immensely warm and cozy.

Y had yearned for a kotatsu when we lived in Canada, and in Australia, too, as we lacked a heater and winter nights were chilly. So, on moving to Japan, one of his first items of business was to acquire a kotatsu. This month we also got a new blanket, and so now he is almost permanently installed in the kotatsu when he’s home. (Yes, he dozes there, too, a tendency he’s had his whole life.)

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Chrysanthemums

Did you know you could eat chrysanthemums (kiku-no-hana)? They have a very light taste, reminiscent of baby spinach.

Here’s how we ate them:

Buy from the store.

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Take out of the package.

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Pluck the petals and rinse.

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Boil briefly (like a minute) and dress with soy sauce or some other kind of stock. Accompanied here with spinach and shimeji mushrooms.

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Yum!

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Mushrooms

One of the best things about autumn in Japan: MUSHROOMS. Here’s what they look like in their glory, displayed in the grocery store.

They all have different qualities. Enoki are thin, like eating noodles, good for a hotpot (nabe) or soup. Shiitake are versatile, but gorgeous when they’re just grilled and eaten with a bit of soy sauce. Maitake are my favourite currently, also good for a hotpot, thin but still firm. Shimeji are excellent in a stir fry, as are eringi. So many options…

Kabu

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Kabu, or Japanese turnips, are a lovely cold weather food. The greens are very tasty (spinach like), and the white turnip bulbs are soft and juicy when cooked. I often put them in miso soup or saute them with sesame oil (shown here with fried tofu sheets added as well).

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