Taste of Tohoku at A Taste of Culture

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Tohoku, in northern Japan, has a rich food culture. My mother is from Yamagata and growing up I was eating many of the regional dishes like shiso maki, a nutty miso that is rolled into a fresh shiso leaf and then sauteed in sesame oil. After the triple disaster of March 11th, Elizabeth Andoh wrote Kibō, a great collection of recipes from the Tohoku region.

Today Andoh Sensei taught a class on the cuisine of Tohoku at her school, A Taste of Culture. And, as always, I walked away with new knowledge on Japanese cuisine, and inspired to push myself and study more about this Japanese food.
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Elizabeth talked about the use of dried flowers and nuts and seeds in Tohoku cuisine. Today we made a dish with dried chrysanthemum petals (hoshigiku). We also used walnuts, sesame seeds, and pine nuts. Pine nuts was a big surprise, but as Elizabeth pointed out, look at all of the pine trees in Japan. The pine nuts were toasted and chopped in a food processor and then added to a tōfu dressing (shirae) that was later used as a dressing for mitsuba and loquats (biwa).

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The class is part demonstration, part hands-on. Here is Elizabeth in her kitchen getting us started on making harako meshi, a rice dish made with salmon and ikura (salmon roe).
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Here are the shiso maki sauteeing in some sesame oil. This is the dish I have known since I was very young. Although, I have to admit that I think my cousins in Yamagata make theirs with a bit more sugar in the nutty miso.

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We were also able to try some pickles from Tohoku. One the left is a beautiful pickle, kinkon-zuké, that is made with carrots, burdock root, and cucumber rolled into kombu, that is then squeezed into a gourd and then pickled. On the right is iburigakko, a dried pickled daikon that is smoked and pickled in tamari. Both are very rich and intense in flavor.

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A Taste of Tohoku

Walnut-Miso Stuffed Shiso Leaves

Dried Chrysanthemum Petals and Enoki Mushrooms in a Vinegar Dressing

Loquats and Trefoil in Pine Nut Tōfu Sauce

Kinkon-Zuké “Mosaic” Pickle and Iburikgakko Smoked Daikon Pickle

Salmon and Ikura (Parent and Child) Rice

Miso Soup with Eggplant, Wakame, and Scallions

Urakasumi Zen Junmai Ginjō

A Taste of Culture’s Website

Kibō Website

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