October 23 – 霜降 Soukou
Welcome to the series of posts made in collaboration with Kintoki sweets and ITSUMO Life exploring Japanese culture and seasonal observations.
Today we have entered the 18th microseason of 霜降 soukou, the season where “frost descends” and the cold morning dew starts to becomes frost in some of the colder areas. The last of the fall harvest is coming in and the farmers markets start winding down this time of year, with most ending in the last week of October.
We decided to use late harvest Portuguese peppers, walnuts, and Sen’s homemade miso to make these brown rice miso onigiri to celebrate the concept of 名残 nagori. Nagori is one of our favourite Japanese concepts which translates to roughly “last of the season”. Nagori can be used for both seasonal phenomena and for food. The last of autumn flowers, the last of the autumn leaves, the slight melancholic but appreciative emotion as the season changes.
Traditional Japanese cooking believes that ingredients have a peak season of ten days called “旬“ Shun. (Shun translates to “10 days” much like fortnight means two weeks in western time keeping practices). When the season for something starts to wind down we like to take the time and really savour the fleeting “last of the season” nagori foods.
We kept the recipe simple to highlight the nagori ingredients; we used only four ingredients: miso and Spanish peppers and chopped walnuts with a pinch of sugar. We minced up the Spanish peppers (these were very similar to shishito peppers, except slightly bigger.) They are thin-fleshed and tender with the occasional spicy one mixed in, the flavours of the peppers, miso and walnuts spread on the new-harvest brown rice makes for a perfect fall snack.
Featured here is the series of igaware pottery. The stunning handmade Iga suribachi mortar comes in handy for many of our classic Japanese recipes. We find that iga ceramics with its roots from the Nara period (710-794AD) inspire a sense of nostalgia while adding warmth to the dining set up even in a modern setting.
We are so happy the much needed rain is starting to fall again and hope that everyone keeps warm in this fall weather and enjoys the last of the fall season before winter sets in.
Until our next exploration,
ITSUMO & Kintoki Sweets