It’s like Los Angeles 2009 in Tokyo 2015. Western style pickling and stuffing-mason jars-with-pretty-food trend has finally arrived to Tokyo’s farmers markets. Welcome.
Can’t get enough of these jars — they are so pretty. Naturally absurdly priced but I guess that comes with the high quality ingredients used? Maybe…?
I popped by the neighborhood farmers market and stopped at almost every single booth. The Japanese just have a way of taking what the West does well and making it better.
Hello, pretty vegetables. Greetings, giant bamboo shoot!
My favorite was the sesame stand next to the pickling stand — they had a machine that was grinding sesame seeds:
The rich, nutty scent of fresh ground sesame seeds kept distracting me while I was talking to the pickling people.
Growing up, I did not like Chinese food (except for dim sum). My family loved Chinese cuisine but everything about it bothered me: the tastes of black bean, Szechuan, sweet and sour were too prominent. The fragrant herbs and spices overwhelmed my senses. The consistency of the thick sauces felt bizarre on my tongue and I disliked the sensation of them in my throat. I even couldn’t eat the deep fried sesame mochi balls with sweet bean paste because the sesame was too much, the balls, oily.
My mother forced me to finish my plates when we dined out at Chinese restaurants (the San Francisco Bay Area has tremendous Chinese restaurants by the way) and I came to dislike sesame.
In Japanese cooking, toasted sesame is used ground with a mortar and pestle. As much as I disliked whole sesame, when toasted sesame seeds are ground, the sesame takes on a different taste and texture. It’s so earthy and nutty, almost like peanuts. Ground sesame is most commonly used to dress blanched spinach goma-ae, for homemade salad dressings and dips for hot pots like shabu-shabu.
In our household, our afternoon snack was sometimes vegetable sticks with this dip. So easy and healthy (I think). Well a lot healthier than store bought American dips 😉
Home style Japanese Vegetable Dip
2tbsps of ground sesame (about 30grams)
2tbsps of mayonnaise (Japanese mayo is best)
2tsps of miso
Mix above and serve! This dip goes well with basically any raw vegetable: carrots, cucumber, celery, radish, asparagus, snap peas, even tear cabbage leaves.
Makes about 1/2 cup