Hachisu came to Japan in the late ’80s to study Japanese and never left. Now, she is resident of a farm in Kamikawa-machi, Gunma, where her husband grew up. There, she runs an English immersion program in an 85-year-old farmhouse for kids aged from 18 months to teenage. The students help to grow and harvest fresh produce from the farm that they then enjoy every day for lunch. This idyllic life living off the fat of the land led Hachisu to write Japanese Farm Food, to be published this fall.
Her mother-in-law often made udon noodles from scratch using wheat from the farm, while her husband Tadaaki, an inspired cook, raises free-range chickens and eggs. In her book, Hachisu has adapted old family secrets and introduced her own to compile this compendium of 160 recipes, displayed alongside lush photos of her countryside home and surroundings by Kenji Miura.
Heat a small amount of good quality canola oil in a large pan with a couple of broken dried red peppers, add julienned or sliced vegetables such as carrots, lotus root, green peppers, celery, or okra with a little slivered ginger and stir-fry for a few minutes until just done. Flavor at the end with a little soy sauce, sea salt, shottsuru (Japanese fish sauce), or miso thinned with sake.
Though some dishes include bonito-based dashi, most recipes are vegetarian, and place a heavy focus on “fresh and thoughtfully sourced ingredients.” Easy seasonal recipes include the simple kinpira—sautéed and simmered root vegetables—or a carrot salad dressed with canola oil and yuzu. Another crunchy option is a crudite of fresh radish, bell peppers, cucumbers, and thin green onions dipped in miso. See the sidebar for her quick and easy stir-fry recipe, to tide you over until the book’s publication.
- Japanese Farm Food, Andrews McNeel Publishing, September 2012, pp.400, ¥2,951. Available at major bookstores, or buy through Amazon.