Names in this site follow the Japanese custom of family name first.

April 9, 2007

Kyo-yasai or “Kyoto vegetables” factsheet

List of Kyoto vegetables

Kyo takenoko (bamboo shoot)
A spring vegetable grown in Nishiyama, the Western Hills. The young shoots of bamboo (raised by farmers) are eaten after boiling, but Kyo takenoko is also eaten uncooked, just after being dug up, and dipped in vinegared miso. The taste is sweet, the flesh soft.

Kyo myoga (mioga, a kind of ginger)
Mioga is indigenous to Japan. Only the fragrant buds and stems are eaten, thinly sliced and used as a garnish in soups. Also made into vinegared pickles. Taste is not hot (as ginger), but rather herbal.

Hanana (or nanohana, rape shoots)
The immature stem of rape with their buds. Looks a bit like small broccoli and is a symbol for spring. Used in cooked salads (aemono) with mustard dressing but also eaten in pickled form. Grown in Fushimi. The taste is slightly bitter.

Kyo udo (a fragrant plant of which the white stalks and leaves are eaten – resembles asparagus)
Grown in the Momoyama area of Fushimi, SE Kyoto. Blanched by growing it in the dark, by heaping soil on the young stalks in mid-March. The Kyoto variety is very fragrant. Udo is both eaten raw and used in clear soups (suimono), vinegared salads (sunomono), cooked salads (aemono) and as soused greens (ohitashi).

Kamo nasu (eggplant)
A summer vegetable. Kamo eggplant is grown in Kamigamo, in the northern part of Kyoto. They have a distinct rounded shape, a deep purple color and weigh from 300 to 400 grams. Richly flavored, they are well-suited to be boiled and seasoned, or grilled with oil. A famous dish is Nasu Dengaku (nasu grilled on skewers and topped with a sweetened miso topping). Other famous eggplant varieties from Kyoto include Yamashina nasu, from the eastern suburb of Kyoto, a small (80 grams) and delicate variety of superb taste, and Mogi nasu, an even smaller variety also from Yamashina.

Fushimi togarashi (peppers)
Already mentioned in writings from the Edo-period. From the Fushimi area, these peppers are also called aoto. They are not hot at all and used in simmered dishes (nimono), with grilled foods (yakimono) and as tempura. Other peppers are Tanaka togarashi (from Tanaka in the Sakyo ward) and Manganji togarashi from Maizuru.

Katsura uri (melon)
Melon from the Katsura area in SW Kyoto. Also used in Nara-zuke, Nara pickles. The taste is sweet and fragrant.

Hiragino sasage (cowpea, long thin-podded beans)
From the Hiragino area in northern Kyoto. The stalks with the beans can be as long as 80 or 90 centimeters. The immature beans are used as a vegetable in simmered dishes (nimono) and as soused greens (ohitashi). The beans themselves can be used as an alternative to azuki beans. A summer vegetable that is used as an offer at the Buddhist Obon festival in August.

Tanba kurodaizu (black soybeans)
From the Tanba area in the western part of Kyoto prefecture. Big beans that even keep their form when boiled. Used in New Year dishes. Often called the “No 1 Bean of Japan.” Also eaten with beer or sake straight from the boiled pods (edamame). Can be the base for miso, tofu and various traditional sweets.

Kyoto dainagon azuki (azuki, little red beans)
“Dainagon” is the title for the Great Councilor at the Heian court. In contrast to a samurai, these officials did not commit harakiri (seppuku) and the same is true of these beans: even when boiled, the skin does not break! Kyoto dainagon azuki are from Kameoka, a town NW of Kyoto. They are large and shiny and usually used as the main ingredient for Kyogashi, the traditional sweets.

Shishigatani kabocha (pumpkin or squash)
Produced near Shishigadani in the Sakyo Ward of Kyoto, near the Philosopher's Path. The shape, like a gourd, is very characteristic, so it is used not only for cooking but also as a flower vase or ornament. Watery and not very sweet, in contrast to other pumpkin varieties. Plays an important role in “Kabocha Kuyo”, an annual ceremony held at Anrakuji Temple in July.