My cookbook, WASHOKU: Recipes from the Japanese Home Kitchen (Ten Speed Press, 2005) provides a solid foundation to the principles and practice of washoku (balance and harmony) in the kitchen and at table. This workshop page enables me to guide you further. ENJOY!
I welcome your feedback -- especially captioned photos with a brief description of your kitchen sessions when you try making the recipes posted here or in WASHOKU. Those interested in offering feedback, please download a set of guidelines for submitting and displaying your work.To further teaching goals, I may post some of the feedback to this site, adding my commentary.
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WASHOKU KITCHEN CULTURE
Eel-Eating Days of Summer
doyō ushi no hi
Tokyo summers are notoriously hot and sticky. When the humidity remains high and temperatures still hover at 30 Celsius (90 F) in the evening, lethargy sets in: natsubaté is what the Japanese call this listless state. In Japan, eel-eating has long been thought a culinary cure for heat-weariness. In fact, mention of beating the heat by eating eel can be found as early as the eighth century in the Manyoshu, an anthology of poetry. Even today’s relatively new mid-summer ritual devoted to eel-eating on doyō ushi no hi began several hundreds of years ago.
Doyō refers to the 18-day time period prior to a change of seasons in the lunar
calendar. There is a doyo period
before the onset of spring, summer, autumn, and winter, though most Japanese
are familiar with the summertime (pre-autumn) one called doyō ushi no hi.
or "ox") refers to one of 12 animal names, assigned by many Asian
cultures to both years (2009 was the most recent Year of the Ox), as well as
days within each year. This year, 2012, doyō ushi no hi falls on July 27. Japanese restaurants and grocery stores typically begin to run
promotional specials several weeks before. Be on the lookout for them, even outside Japan.