As the warm month of July gives way to August, the availability and large variety of fresh vegetables continues to flourish and populate shelves at supermarkets and farmer’s markets. August is prime time for tomatoes and corn in the United States, and likewise in Japan. With a strong focus on cooking fresh food with ingredients that are in season, Japan’s population utilizes tomatoes in many Japanese dishes during August.
Tomatoes, of course, are a wonderfully versatile ingredient. You can eat them raw as a snack or add them to salads, stir-fries, and stews. They form the base of many sauces, garnish sandwiches, and much, much more. (And, by the way, tomatoes are actually a fruit, not a vegetable!)
While not as versatile as tomatoes, corn can also be prepared in many ways. While corn on the cob, seasoned with butter or olive oil, salt and pepper, and other herbs are especially tasty, it too can also be added to salads or soups, roasted, and many other applications.
Tips for Choosing the Best Tomatoes in Season
Different types of tomatoes come in all shapes and sizes, but unless you are shopping for heirloom tomatoes, most tomatoes follow the same rules when you are trying to pick the freshest ones. Their red color should be vibrant and uniform throughout the whole skin of the tomato, and the stems should be dark green. Nice, plump, round tomatoes also indicate freshness, rather than ones that may be misshapen or have wrinkles or blemishes on the skin.
Tomatoes are also especially nutritious and offer a number of health benefits, so they always make a great addition to any diet. Low-carb and low-calorie, tomatoes contain a number of important vitamins and minerals, as well as lycopene, an antioxidant that helps to reduce the risk of certain types of cancer and heart disease.
Italian Tomato Somen Noodles
This tasty Japanese/Italian fusion pasta dish utilizes somen noodles instead of spaghetti, and a seasoning comprised of soy sauce and garlic. The addition of tuna, fresh basil, and fresh cherry tomatoes add tons of flavor and healthy nutrients.
Tips for Choosing the Best Corn in Season
Most fresh corn in season is sold still in the husk. There usually is no need to peel back the husk to examine the corn. In fact, the husks tell you everything you need to know. The leaves of the husks should be green and vibrant. The tassels at the end of the husk should be plentiful, brown, and slightly moist. If they are dry, then the corn is no longer fresh. If they are green, the corn is still young and will not be as flavorful.
Like tomatoes, corn is also rich in many vitamins and nutrients. It is also especially high in fiber, which helps with metabolism, digestion, and reduces the risk of colon cancer. Antioxidants in corn are also said to help prevent Alzheimer’s disease.
Steamed Pork Ball with Corn
This unique recipe makes corn and ground pork (or you can substitute with chicken) into bite-sized, fun-to-eat appetizers or snacks. Ginger, scallions, soy sauce, and mustard comprise the seasoning. Once the prep work is done, it only takes ten minutes to cook.
Note: The recipe calls for a bamboo steamer—follow this link if you aren’t sure how to cook with a bamboo steamer.