Spring is in full swing.
April is already down to less than half a month. Have you felt the change of the seasons since you came to Japan? One of the easiest way to feel that is to eat some seasonal ingredients. They become much more delicious than what they taste in other seasons, and they could be very nutritious. Besides, they are also cheaper than usual because they are abundant in supply in the market. Here are some vegetables which grow during spring.
The Rape flower is one of the flowers which reflects the arrival of early spring. We eat the rape flower when it is in bud, and it tastes a little bitter. Although the best season to eat is from February to March, it is still available now. Japanese people usually eat Rape Flower after boiling it and dress it with vinegared miso or mustard. But it also goes well with olive oil and salt. Of course, it can also be a good ingredient for spaghetti.
Though cabbage goes on the market all year around, it is especially called “spring cabbage” during this season. Compared to the normal cabbage, the leaves of spring cabbage are greener, looser and softer. To take advantage of this feature, you might use it to make a salad, a cabbage pickle, etc. They will taste totally different from the cabbage in winter!
Aralia sprout is called “taranome” in Japanese. Except for vegetables, Japanese people sometimes also eat edible wild herbs. And Aralia sprout is one of those wild herbs which grows in spring. It is often eaten as tempura. However, it also goes well with mayonnaise because of its bitterness. You may try it in this way if you don’t have confidence in making tempura. And what’s more, you may also mix it with cooked rice (mazegohan).
New potatoes come into the market twice a year, which is in spring and fall. The new potatoes in spring are harvested in Kyushu. Their peels are thinner and they are more juicy and nutritious. I recommend you to eat them with peels because the peels contain more nutrition. Because they are harvested in an unripened condition, it’s better for you to cook them into buttered potato, French fries, etc. Moreover, if you want to make nikujaga (meat potatoes), you may use bacon or ham instead of beef/pork, and it will taste better. But keep it in mind that the new potatoes are less-storable than normal ones. You should eat them as soon as possible (better to eat them within 7-10 days).