Friday, October 22, 2021

Tokyo and Yokohama Regional Farmers Markets: October Update

 

JoanBaileyJapanFarmersMarketsKabuColorfulAoyama
A colorful selection of kabu (turnips) at the Farmers Market at UNU.

It has been some time, to say the least, since I have ventured out to a farmers market. Some, like the Kamakura market, have been running steadily, and others, like the Aoyama Marche, scaled back and ran in other places or shifted online as much as possible. Now that the State of Emergency (SOE) is over, the number of cases down, and the number of vaccinations up, markets opening up again bit by bit. Below is what I have thus far. If you notice something missing or that needs updating, get in touch!

Market of the Sun

This market remains closed. It is wonderful when it's open, so be sure to check their Facebook page for updates. 


Koenji Farmers Market

Saturday, October 16*

This market is open! Held the third Saturday of the month in front of the Za-Koenji Public Theatre, this market is a charming mix of local fare and nearby growers. Check out the website for vendor details.

11am - 5pm

Map


Oiso Farmers Market

This market remains closed. It is a delightful one to visit, especially if you hanker for a seaside wander away from Tokyo. Check their Facebook page for updates.


Nippori Farmers Market

This market permanently closed in April 2020. It was one of my favorites.  


Yokohama Kitanaka Marche

This market remains closed. It is another great one to visit and a welcome addition to Yokohama's delights. Check their Facebook page for updates.


Kichijoji Harmonica Yokocho Asaichi

This market remains closed. Early risers on Tokyo's west side will find this one well worth the effort when it does reopen. Check their Facebook page for updates.


Kamakura Farmers Market

This market is open and well worth the journey. Established in 1933, the market features a different group of farmers each day. All grow Kamakura Brand vegetables, a brand established to delineate the uniqueness and terroir of Kamakura's produce. Check out their website, visit to discover which group(s) of farmers might be your favorite, then make it a regular journey. My advice? Other than getting vaccinated, wear your mask, bring your own shopping bag, and get ready for a feast!

Kamakura Renbai

8am until no veg left


Ebisu/Yebisu Marche

This market is open and running as usual every Sunday. Always a delight for the Tokyo growers it features, I will also recommend checking out Brod. A new baker on the scene specializing in Nordic sourdough, they appear at this market as well as other spots around town. I haven't tried their work yet, but I am looking forward to doing so!

Ebisu/Yebisu Marche

11am - 5pm


Farmers Market at UNU

This market is open and running at its regular location in front of the United Nations University. Easily Tokyo's best market, it is open every Saturday and Sunday with a fantastic variety of growers, producers, craftsmen/women, and a very nice selection of food trucks. Other events often also take place, and if you go, you will have an absurd amount of fun and come away with a bag full of wonderfulness. 

Farmers Market at UNU

10am to 4pm


Hills Marche

This market is open and running at its regular location and times. Tucked in the inner courtyard of Ark Hills Karajan Platz, this market is a treasure trove of vegetables, fruit, baked goods, fresh flowers, and more. 

Hills Marche

10am to 2pm


Yurakucho Marche/Kotsukaikan Marche

This market is open and running in its usual location and regular times. Snug under the overhang of the Kotsukaikan just outside Yurakucho Station, this market runs weekly on Saturdays and Sundays. In keeping with the number of prefectural antenna shops inside, market themes are often regional. This is another highly recommended spot.

Yurakucho Kotsukaikan Marche

11:30am to 5:30pm

Sunday, October 17, 2021

Nukadoko Progress Report: The Forgotten Pickle or Beyond Furuzuke


Nukadoko Cucumber Furuzuke Joan Bailey Japan Farmers Markets
Nukazuke well done and then some.
A cucumber left a bit too long in the nukadoko pickle pot. 


It was bound to happen. This is not one of my prouder moments, but a diary is a place of truth and learning. Here is my truth: I did not check or mix my nuka paste one day.


The Scenario

Right after the carrot halves, I decided to do up some cucumbers for friends. The nukadoko has become something of a communal resource, and I regularly supply my landlord neighbor and a handful of other friends with nukazuke. I am happy to do it as we can't eat everything the pot produces, and it gives me even more excuses to experiment and play. So, I dutifully washed, dried, salt rubbed, sweated, and rinsed some of the season's last cucumbers and put them in the pot around 1pm. I planned to take them out that evening and box them up for delivery the next day.


The Crime

I did not return that evening.

I did not return the next day.

It isn't so much that I forgot the pickle pot, but that I remembered and then promptly forgot it as the day went along. 'Oh yes, I need to mix the pickle pot,' I'd think as I passed through the kitchen from my office and back again to check the weather for signs of the approaching typhoon/get a glass of water/make lunch/find a book for a quote I needed/stop the cat from trying to open the front door AGAIN/feed our semi-feral cat, Mr. B/type just one more paragraph/answer just one more email.

"I'll be there in a minute," I said to the Pickle Pot each time.

I went to bed.


The Dream

That night, I dreamed about my Pickle Pot. In the dream, I approached the pot, sensing something was wrong but not sure what the problem might be. When I took the lid off, cobwebs draped across the interior, and a musty smell filled the kitchen.

My eyes snapped open, and I ran to the kitchen. It was 3:15am.


The Pickles

I admit I was scared, but I was also curious. Elizabeth writes in Kansha that her mother-in-law made the most of these furuzuke or old pickles by serving them thinly sliced and sprinkled with roasted sesame. They would, I thought, be strong-flavored but edible. Elizabeth also writes that it's good to get to know pickles at all stages, and I wanted to know what was happening. In short, I needed to analyze my crime. The next morning after I woke up, I cut off a slice each for R and me.

"That's good," said R. "It's sour, like American sour pickle sour."

I nibbled my bite and agreed. The resulting pickle was not overwhelmingly attractive - a bit yellow green with an interior well worked over by the bacteria living in the pot - but it was definitely sour. It would, we mused, be good on a hamburger.


The Lesson

Two more cucumbers went in at 10:40am on a bright sunny post-typhoon day. The temperature was 88°F (31°C) with 56% humidity. My device told me it felt more like 95°F (95°C), which I found believable. I also set an alarm to remind me to take them out by dinner time. 

I cannot say this is a practice I recommend, but it did work out. I'm also glad that I tried the results. I fell like I have a better understanding of the process and its power, especially in hot and humid weather.

The paste, interestingly enough, is much wetter, and the smell remains very sour. I assume the fluid drawn out by the extended pickling process is what I'm encountering. There is no standing liquid yet, but I sense it will happen soon.

Monday, October 11, 2021

Nukadoko Progress Report: The First Carrot


The first carrot to emerge from the nukadoko.

A conversation with a local farmer at their farm stand informed me that cucumber season was over. To be honest, I was only a little bit sad at this news. Because of the nukadoko, we've eaten more cucumbers than ever before. It's been great and delicious fun, but I'm ready for something new.

As the farmer and I continued chatting, I noticed a selection of bright orange carrots. Like many times found at farm stands, these vivid specimens were most likely the wrong size, wrong shape, etc. Even though they looked perfectly fine to me, they didn't meet the strict standards set by distributors and supermarkets for produce. The quality, though, is the same, so some farmers sell these castoffs from small stands just outside the farm gate. Carrots, then, were up next for the nukadoko.

Preparing the Carrot

I trimmed off the top, peeled, cut the carrot in half as it was quite long, and salt-rubbed each half and set them to the side to sweat while I flipped and mixed the nuka paste. I laid the halves horizontally like cucumbers and buried them. it was about 12:45 PM on a cloudy rainy day. The temperature was 78°F (26°C) and the humidity was 88%.

Carrots are denser and more fibrous beasts than cucumbers, so I had no idea how long it would require before they were 'done.' That evening around 7 PM, I took out the two halves. I tried the narrower end of the carrot first. My developing pickle knowledge made me suspect that because it was slightly smaller in diameter that it might have pickled a bit faster. The taste was tangy, but to my surprise, the texture of the carrot itself had not much changed. Where cucumbers shift in color, become bendy, and have interior 'watery' spots, this carrot glowed as though it had just had a nice bath and scrub. It was not softer in any discernable way, and the tanginess only came as a kind of aftertaste. 

Tasting the Halves

I reburied the other half for retrieval the next morning, and we ate this early half with our dinner that evening. 

The second carrot to emerge from the nukadoko.

The next morning turned out, instead, to be 12:30 PM. The weather was sunny-cloudy and 77°F  (about 26°C) with 86% humidity. Again, to my surprise, the carrot appeared much the same: vivid orange, refreshed-looking, and not bendable at all. The taste was very tangy with a bit of the carrot's natural sweetness floating around the edges. To be honest, this was an interesting flavor, but not one that appealed to us. However, it worked very nicely chopped up on salad. 

Caveats

That said, I might try it again once the season goes along. If I do, I would cut it in half lengthwise and see what happens.