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Foodbuzz 24,24,24: Japanese Hanami Menu for Cherry Blossom Festivals

Hanami Platter

This weekend marks the beginning of the three-week long cherry blossom festival in Washington, D.C., which is the largest festival in the United States. What some people may not know, however, is that cherry blossom festivals are steeped in Japanese tradition. The traditional Japanese custom of enjoying the beauty of cherry blossoms is known as Hanami. Cherry blossoms bloom all over Japan from mid-January until early May, which is when the Japanese take in their beauty, celebrating the beauty of the trees with friends and family. Hanami mostly consists of having an outdoor party beneath the blooming cherry blossoms during either the daytime or at night. As is the case with most ethnic cultures when large gatherings are involved, food plays a large role in Japanese hanami. Always interested in learning more about regional customs and the food that goes along with them, I thought that putting together a sample hanami menu would be a great way to celebrate this month’s Foodbuzz 24,24,24 event.

The following is the sample hanami menu that I put together; descriptions and photos of each item are included below, as well as links to the recipes:

♦  Kushidango
♦  Shrimp Yakitori
♦  Sushi Rolls
♦  Teppanyaki

Kushidango

Kushidango

Kushidango are dumplings that are made of rice flour and water, steamed and then basted with a sweetened soy sauce and grilled on skewers. Typically 3 to 4 are placed on a skewer and they are traditionally served with green tea. Recipe

Shrimp Yakitori

Shrimp Yakitori

Yakitori can be made with both chicken and shrimp, and I decided to go with the shrimp version for my menu. They are marinated in sesame oil and fresh ginger, and then skewered and grilled. They are sprinkled with a peppered sesame seed mixture. Recipe

Teppanyaki (Grilled Meat & Vegetables with Dipping Sauce)

Teppanyaki is traditionally made using an iron griddle to cook the meal at the table with everyone gathered around, and typically uses either steak or shrimp alongside a variety of vegetables. For my meal, I chose to use steak and since I do not have an iron griddle, I prepared the dish using a stainless steel wok. Recipe

Sushi Rolls

Sushi Rolls

I have yet to tackle making my own sushi, so the sushi rolls that I eat typically come from somewhere local. In this case, it was the local grocery store that has a sushi section, but my favorite is from Yoyogi Sushi in Gaithersburg, MD (their shrimp tempura rolls are awesome!). If you want to give it a go making your own, check out the tutorial on California Rolls by Annie’s Eats.

Now, go make a delicious picnic and sit under a beautiful, flowering tree and enjoy the nature that surrounds us.

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17 Responses to “Foodbuzz 24,24,24: Japanese Hanami Menu for Cherry Blossom Festivals”

  1. Rodzilla on March 28, 2010 at 9:57 am

    Have you tried sushi at Umi or Chaya in Pittbsurgh?

    Reply

  2. Sarah from 20somethingcupcakes on March 28, 2010 at 11:00 am

    These pictures are stunning! I was just looking at a magazine with instructions on how to make your own sushi – they made it look surprisingly easy! Always up for a challenge so definitely going to try it soon and write about it. xxSAS

    Reply

  3. Katie on March 28, 2010 at 6:28 pm

    Looks yummy! Next Saturday will find me traipsing along the National Mall photographing all the Cherry Blossoms. Great post!

    Reply

  4. Aimee on March 28, 2010 at 6:57 pm

    The kushidango look so deliciously sticky and good!

    Reply

  5. thatssoron on March 29, 2010 at 2:02 am

    I love it! …this looks awesome

    Reply

  6. bunkycooks on March 29, 2010 at 10:18 am

    This is a beautiful post! I love the photos.

    Reply

  7. Fuji Mama on March 29, 2010 at 7:17 pm

    You’ve totally made me homesick for Japan with this post! I’ve been lamenting the fact that I’m missing hanami. Sigh.

    Reply

  8. Krissy @ The Food Addicts on March 30, 2010 at 12:02 am

    i’m a huge cherry blossoms fan, and one day would like to be in japan when the cherry blossoms bloom. your japanese hanami menu looks great! after seeing this, it makes me want to make sushi again! congrats on the 24!

    Reply

  9. Jencrafted on March 30, 2010 at 1:24 am

    I love Japanese food and your post does it good justice! Spectacular photography as well. Nicely done!

    Reply

  10. miranda on March 30, 2010 at 9:06 pm

    This is beautiful and very well done. The rolls look mouth-watering. :))

    Reply

  11. julia on March 31, 2010 at 5:33 pm

    All of the food looks to die for! Great job!

    Reply

  12. Mhe-Lhanee Benito on March 31, 2010 at 7:09 pm

    I am officially hungry. It’s 7 am here, and I should stop staring on your beautiful pictures! I should try those Kushidango.

    Reply

  13. Mardi @eatlivetravelwrite on April 2, 2010 at 2:00 pm

    I am so late commenting on this – last week was a bit nuts! – but I just wanted to say what a FAB idea for a 24 event. Your photos are beautiful and just scream “SPRING”! Well done!

    Reply

  14. cat on April 14, 2010 at 5:31 pm

    looks great!

    Reply

  15. Jerome on April 22, 2010 at 12:01 am

    I’m curious about that food between the Teppanyaki and the sushi roll and below the savory looking sauce :) Is that tuna? :D

    Reply

  16. chandani on April 23, 2010 at 1:27 pm

    Beautiful cherry blossom. Food looks amazing and yummy.

    Reply

  17. Shalon on March 28, 2011 at 1:21 pm

    I can’t believe you haven’t tried making your own sushi yet…I thought it was more difficult than it really is but most of the stuff you do is amazing so I’m pretty sure you’ll perfect that in no time…Don’t be afraid to give it a try!

    Reply

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