The Japanese answer to the question of the summer heat is to enjoy it. And this means food. Masters of adapting to the seasons, Japanese summer cuisine is light and easy on the palate. Here are five more summer treats that will make you love the season.
The secret to hiyayakko is its delicacy. Found in izakaya pubs all over the country, this simple tofu dish, garnished with negi green onions and a dash of soy sauce, is cool, delightful and smooth to eat. You'll often find grated ginger and fish flakes adding to the flavour. A versatile dish, expect slices of ham, wakame seaweed or shiso leaf as extra toppings.
Don't be misled by the simplicity of tomorokoshi. Grilled corn brushed with a soy sauce, mirin and sugar mixture is absolutely divine during summer. The rustic aroma wafting out from a yatai food stall as the corn is being grilled is addictive and the final flavour is a beautiful blend of the sweet and the savoury.
Beef shabu shabu's summer cousin is rei shabu, thin strips of pork meat served cool as a salad dish. When dressed in a ponzu sauce, you are in for a treat as the amiable texture of the pork simply loves the pizazz of the ponzu citrus juice dressing. And when coupled with ginger and tofu, you have the makings of a light dish that is inexplicably refreshing to eat.
It may very well be that my favourite summer dish in Japan are those takoyaki balls of batter and octopus. Forget the mayonnaise, Worcestershire-like sauce or the bonito fish flakes, though. That's great for winter. Summer takoyaki means negipon - negi green onions and ponzu dressing. I can't even begin to describe just how delicious this dish is in summer.
Morioka reimen is the king of summer foods in Morioka, Iwate Prefecture. These chilled noodles are chewy and almost translucent. You'll find them floating in a soup of chilled beef and chicken stock along with a dash of Korean kimchi and a slice of watermelon. Truly. The chewiness of the noodles, the kick of the kimchi and the sweetness of the watermelon just work.
Simple and surprisingly refreshing, these summer dishes are the perfect taste of an enjoyable season.