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Jul 15, 2018

Unique plants and veggies in Japan

How often do you pop into the local supermarket or farmer's market here and find different fruits, vegetables or plants that you have no idea how to prepare - or even what they are?


I feel like discovering veggies that I've never tried before is something that happens to me on a regular basis. I remember the first time I saw bitter melon and wondered what on earth it was - a pimply, blemished giant cucumber? I honestly had no idea what it was, and ended up actually asking at a cooking class I went to...and feeling like a bit of a goose literally describing it as "that bumpy looking green vegetable".

Unique plants and veggies in Japan photo

I've never tried preparing it myself at home, but I have tried it in dishes when I've been out. I'm not the biggest fan of it, but maybe I just need to find a way of cooking it that suits my taste buds!


Basically every time I go to the farmer's market though, there's something new that I find myself having to whip out my phone to work out what it is. I've seen these leaves out quite a bit in bundles at stores, and also growing out in some of the fields that surround our local area. They're red shiso, and are often used in the coloring process for umeboshi - I never knew that until I looked it up!

Unique plants and veggies in Japan photo

The veggie below is known as a bottle gourd or calabash in English, and is often uses to make kanpyo which are dried shavings of calabash, often used in making makizushi. Apparently they can also be used to make containers when they are hollowed out!

Unique plants and veggies in Japan photo

What other produce have you seen here in Japan that you've never seen back home? Have you ventured out into the world of preparing them yourself?


If so, do you have any great recipes you'd like to share?

genkidesu

genkidesu

After spending the last several years in the beating heart of Tokyo, I will be spending the next three in the countryside of Japan. I adore this country and all it has to offer - and I'm always learning more and more about life here as I go along!


2 Comments

  • Candiajia1

    on Jul 15

    Haha! .....”until I whip out my phone....!” My teenage daughter thinks I’m crazy each time I do that.., but if I don’t I’m stuck in the stores not knowing what I’m buying or WHAT to buy! I see lots of interesting vegetable too. The first time I saw the Goya my eyes went wide! When I tasted it... I almost did backflips because of how bitter it was!

  • genkidesu

    on Jul 15

    @Candiajia1 haha I'm glad I'm not the only one who does that!! My phone is my lifeline in supermarkets here a lot of the time...thank goodness for Google Translate helping me decipher what's what!