Kyoto’s Nishiki Market – Vegetables

KYOTO-Nishiki_Market_Rice_Husks2
Rice husks being prepared for vegetables, photo credit: Mr. Misadventures

When you are focused on producing exceptional food using the magnificent natural resources at your disposal (also known as farming) the possibilities are endless. When my grandparents farmed in Iowa and when my husband’s grandparents farmed in France, people ate seasonally and they used every last part of every food item.

Some posts on this site contain affiliate links, meaning if you book or buy something through one of these links, I may earn a small commission (at no extra cost to you!). Opinions are always my own and I’ll never promote something I don’t use or believe in.

What I loved about the food scene in Kyoto is that despite having more modern methods of food preparation, traditional methods are still used because you cannot replace the essential flavors that come from producing it the “hard” way.

During our tour of the Nishiki Market with Context Travel, Daniel showed us a lot of the artisinal styles of preparation. One such method is nukazuke, using rice husks or rice bran to ferment vegetables. (Here is a fantastic blog post from the Kyoto Foodie that details the process.)  You can find many merchants selling a variety of vegetables using this method throughout Nishiki market.

KYOTO-Nishiki_Market_Veg-in-Husk

I love the fact that every part of the rice is used. From the husks to the stalk. And in so many ways. One of our favorite teas is the genmai cha sometimes called Kyoto (roasted) rice tea which is delicious! And several afternoons we snacked on a variety of roasted rice cakes from the rice shop.

Another method for preparing vegetables (and fish too) is miso. They might not be the most appealing items in the market, but I find it fascinating! These are uncooked eggplants in a miso mixture with mirin sake, ginger and sugar – they are marinating in the mixture so that when you cook them it is absorbed into the vegetable.

KYOTO-Nishiki_Market_Veg_in_Husk3
Photo credit: Mr. Misadventures

Vegetables in Kyoto are revered and have special labels or names. A lot of them are named after temples or shrines. One example of this is the Shogoin which is a daikon (turnip).

Shogoin Daikon
The temple Shogoin is considered to be the birthplace of this daikon. As you can see, it has round shape, is fleshy and sweet and is used for cooking furofuki and other boiled dishes. Only vegetables from Kyoto can be labeled this way. It reminds me a lot of the French AOC classifications.

Here is a photo of kuwai bulbs which are a local specialty similar to a potato in taste. Doesn’t it look like garlic?

KYOTO-Nishiki_Market_Garlic
Photo credit: Mr. Misadventures

I was so happy to be in Kyoto during chestnut season and to see what they look like in their natural state. I had a variety of treats with chestnut as the star – from ice cream to dumplings. Of course one of my favorite ways to eat them is roasted. Who could resist?

KYOTO-Nishiki_Market_Chestnuts
Photo credit: Mr. Misadventures

So many fun things to explore! Kyoto is definitely a town for vegetarians which I’m not, but appreciate nonetheless. One day while we were about an hour outside of Kyoto visiting a temple we had an entire meal consisting of vegetables including purple yam ice cream for desert.

You can’t really say that vegetables are the star of the market at Nishiki, it is more like part of an ensemble cast with the fish and mochi and many, many other culinary delights, but vegetables are definitely an important part of every citizen of Kyoto’s life.

How about you? Do you have an “old-school” cooking method that you use? Does the thought of an all-vegetable meal inspire you or make you want to run the other direction?

10 Comments

  1. krystel
    February 22, 2014

    i love veggies

    Reply
  2. Shannon
    February 22, 2014

    Oh I would love to go there. I am a vegetarian and what lovely vegetables.

    Reply
    1. Andi Fisher
      February 23, 2014

      @Shannon, you would definitely love it there!

      Reply
  3. Judy Thomas
    February 23, 2014

    I have always wanted to go there! My sister is there at the moment on holiday (my sister lives in the Cook Islands and I live in New Zealand) and my daughter went 3 times when she was at school on student trips and attended school. But, I have never been.Maybe it’s my turn soon 🙂

    Reply
  4. Kathleen
    February 24, 2014

    I love the Japanese approach to cooking – it’s all about balance! That market looks amazing! I hope I can visit there one day. I rarely eat meat an all veggie meal is definitely no problem for me!

    Reply
  5. Erin
    February 24, 2014

    I love the old school food preparation used in Kyoto! After I read The Omnivore’s Dilemma, I wanted to know where all my food came from and how it was prepared.

    Reply
  6. Debra Givens-Wagner
    February 25, 2014

    That is amazing…what a place to visit! I love me some veggies. 🙂

    Reply
  7. Nena Sinclair
    March 3, 2014

    This is a very interesting post, I love to learn about different foods from various cultures!

    Reply
  8. Lisa K
    March 3, 2014

    I would definitely love an all vegetable meal. My kids on the other hand would run the other way. I would love to travel and check other culture foods. The Miso does sound good. I bet very flavorful!

    Reply
  9. […] Kyoto's Nishiki Market – Vegetables […]

    Reply

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Scroll to top