People in Japan often lose their appetite during summer, when the weather is hot and humid. When you don’t want to eat anything heavy, cold summer dishes can help to fight fatigue and nourish your health at the same time. If you come to Japan in the summer, here are the top 5 summer dishes to fight the heat!
Cold noodles are a staple part of Japanese summer dishes. Hiyashi-Chuka is chilled ramen with colorful toppings: eggs, prawns, barbecued pork, slices of tomato, cucumber, and pickled red ginger. Finished off with a special tare sauce which tastes sweet, vinegary, and savory all at the same time.
Summer is not complete without eating somen noodles, or so the Japanese say! Somen noodles are different from ramen, as they are straight and thin. They are made from buckwheat and usually served with a light-flavored dipping sauce called tsuyu. They are delicious on their own or served with vegetable side dishes. If you’re lucky, you can experience nagashi somen, which is somen in a bamboo flume filled with cold water that must be skillfully plucked from the flume with chopsticks! Nagashi Somen is usually found at festivals, restaurants, or sometimes people’s backyards!
Goya is certainly an acquired taste for most people because of its bitterness, hence its other name “bittermelon”. However, after getting used to the bitterness you will actually want to eat it! It’s a delicacy on its own or, in the case of champuru, stir-fried with eggs, tofu, and ham. Some restaurants like to use soy sauce to bring the ingredients’ flavours together, or sometimes miso is used. Originating from the tropical islands of Okinawa, goya champuru will help you fight the summer heat!
Moving on to desserts, kakigori can be found everywhere at summer festivals, restaurants, or even made at home. You only need two ingredients to make a good kakigori: ice and syrup. Japanese people love it because of its simplicity and sweetness. You can actually find plenty of shaved ice flavors like green tea, mango, strawberry, lemon, and many more.
Warabimochi is a lighter version of mochi. While mochi is made from glutinous rice, warabi-mochi is made from bracken starch. The texture is somewhere between jelly and mochi and the toppings differ, with popular ones being kinako (sweet toasted soy bean powder) and kuromitsu (a brown sugar syrup) just like the picture above. Some green tea-themed dessert shops actually use green tea syrup for warabimochi too. This is definitely a must-try when you come to Japan.
So what do you think? Have you seen or tried any of these tasty summer dishes and desserts? If not, and you’re traveling around Japan this summer make sure to keep an eye out for these great summer foods, especially at the many fun summer festival events that will be held throughout the country. These 5 summer dishes are all a must-try in the heat of a typical Japanese summer and will definitely help you to keep cool!