Cooking Japanese Food in Season: February Vegetables
In the month of February, both onions and avocados are in season in Japan. Serving as both garnishes and main ingredients, they are a great way to enhance a dish and improve your health at the same time.
Fresh, vibrant ingredients are a cornerstone of traditional Japanese cuisine, especially vegetables. As such, many dishes often utilize whatever vegetables are currently in season in order to maximize the flavor, as well as the health benefits, of the dish. In the month of February, both onions and avocados are in season.
Technically, the avocado is a fruit. If you want to get even more technical, it’s actually a large berry. But putting that aside, it plays a large role in many Japanese dishes. You might be most familiar with its application in sushi; however, it is not used in sushi as prevalently in Japan as it is in the U.S. Rather, it is used in sauces and salads, in donburi rice bowls, and on its own, sliced and drizzled with soy sauce and sesame oil. Onions also have a large number of applications in Japanese cuisine, such as soups and noodle dishes.
Tips for Choosing the Best Onions in Season
Onions in the early spring are typically a bit sweeter than fully developed onions, and also contain more water. However, fresh onions will appear to have dry skins and be firm to the touch; avoid any that are slimy or appear to be wilting. If kept stored in a cool, dry place, they will maintain their freshness for 3-4 weeks.
In addition to adding crisp, vibrant flavor to many dishes, onions are also quite nutritious. They contain many vitamins and minerals, including vitamins C, B vitamins, and potassium. The health benefits of onions have been recognized for centuries, and include helping to improve heart health, helping to reduce the risk of various ailments and diseases such as cancer and diabetes, helping to improve blood sugar levels, and improving bone health.
Tuna and Onion Dashi Soup
A healthy and flavorful soup featuring tuna and shiitake mushrooms, this dish is easy to make with just a few ingredients, yet offers loads of comforting deliciousness that will have you spooning up every last drop.
Tips for Choosing the Best Avocados in Season
Avocados on display in the supermarket often showcase a range of colors. The ripest avocados will be very dark in color with only a few flecks of green on the skin. They should also feel rather firm to the touch. If very soft and yielding, they are beyond ripe. A ripe avocado will yield only slightly while still feeling firm. If it is very hard, it has not ripened yet. Choose the ripe avocados if you plan to eat them quickly — if you are going to be waiting a few days, choose ones that still have more green in the skin.
You’re probably already aware that avocados are very healthy, containing good fats and possessing more potassium than a banana. They also contain the most protein among fruits, as well as a number of antioxidants that serve to improve hair and skin health.
Tuna and Avocado Sushi Roll
This healthy and tasty maki sushi roll is a classic. The addition of sesame seeds and a highly flavorful seasoning adds levels of umami to this seemingly simple sushi roll.