It's Lunch Time

Japan Hour

Japan Hour - Spring in Japan
It's Lunch Time


Japan Hour:

It's Lunch Time

More delicious food awaits us as we travel around Japan to find out what the locals have for their meals. Our first location is Katsuura City situated in the south of Boso Peninsula in Chiba Prefecture. The Katsuura Fishing Port boasts the second-largest number of fish caught in the prefecture. Its morning market, Wajima market in Ishikawa and the Hida-Takayama market in Gifu are known as the three largest morning markets in Japan.

We head to the Katsuura morning market, where we buy some red beam, dried young sardines, seaweed and fatty horse mackerel. We speak to Ms Teruko, whose family owns a fish shop, Suzuhachi. Established 57 years ago, it sells processed salted fish guts, dried fish and seafood. We want to see Ms Teruko’s lunch so we head to her house after she finishes work. She first prepares spicy chilli pepper miso. Sesame oil is used to stir fry chopped green chilli pepper with garlic, white miso and blended miso. The mixture goes well with rice. Her meal also includes salt-grilled mackerel and salted fish guts.

After this, we visit a ladies clothing shop called Takeoka. It is jointly run by Kazuko Takeoka and her daughters Takako and Etsuko. The 60-year-old shop initially sold men’s clothes only but switched to women’s clothing 20 years ago. It now imports and sells clothes from Italy and France. We accompany Ms Takako as she goes to buy ingredients for their meal. Items she purchases include young yellowtail from Katsuura Port, a type of conch called trochus and horse mackerel fillets.

We return to the boutique and the cooking begins in the kitchen at the back of the shop. A seafood feast is prepared to celebrate Ms Kazuko’s 86th birthday. The first dish is horse mackerel sanga. Sanga is a well-known fisherman's dish in Katsuura. After mincing mackerel or other any other fish, it is grilled with miso. It is then mixed together with ginger and green shiso and stir fried, after which sesame oil and soy sauce are added. The meal also features fresh yellowtail sashimi, trochus boiled with salt and clam miso soup.

Our next location is Takahagi City in the northern part of Ibaraki Prefecture. It is the setting for the Japanese drama series "Hiyokko". For example, there is a real house with a red roof which is featured in the show as the house where the main character, Mineko, grew up. So the city has gained popularity partly due to the drama series.

While walking around the city, we meet four-year-old Narumi. Her grandmother Setsuko allows us to visit their home to see what the Numata family is having for lunch. Ms Setsuko grows more than 30 vegetables in their field and uses them to cook the family meal. She would usually make stir-fried vegetables with soy sauce and sugar. They include carrots, scallions, eggplant, green pepper, taro and green beans. Ms Setsuko also makes miso soup with potatoes and cabbage, and lightly pickled cucumber and eggplant.  

The next resident we speak to is 77-year-old Kimie Toyoda. She and her husband Suishi, who was a farmer before retiring, live with their son and daughter-in-law. They show us their lunch, which comprises leftovers from breakfast. They include fried eggplant and milkcap mushrooms with soy sauce, stir-fried ostrich fern, rice cake wrapped in aromatic green shiso, and cucumber and green shiso mixed with sweetened vinegar.  

1) A recommended spot to visit in Katsuura City is the morning market
2) Fans of Japanese drama series Hiyokko should visit Takahagi City