One topic I cover a lot is how Japan is a very “seasonal” place, with distinct customs and foods for each time of year. With winter coming, I’m ready to enjoy some great Japanese winter dishes, preferably with my legs inside the kotatsu to keep me warm. One popular category of dishes is called nabemono, literally “food cooked in a large central pot” that the whole family can eat out of, and some popular versions include ishikari nabe (a miso-based soup with salmon added) and chanko nabe (meat, fish and vegetables cooked together, so hearty that this is what sumo wrestlers eat to bulk up). I’m a big fan of the Japanese dish known as oden (pronounced oh-DEN, not like the Norse god), a hodge-podge of slowly-stewed daikon radishes, boiled eggs, tofu, chikuwa and octopus tentacles, this being Japan and all. (My mother-in-law makes the best oden in the world, and I married my wife in part because of that, figuring that the daughter of such a woman would be a worthwhile choice later on down the road.) But my favoritest winter food ever would have to be sukiyaki, the classic stew consisting of thinly sliced meat, tofu and vegetables cooked in a shallow pot. If you’re interested in making some of these delicious dishes, we’ve got some nice new English-language Japanese cookbooks posted for you.
Sukiyaki (above) and oden (below) are great in winter.