Japanese Summer Seasonal Ingredients

Japanese Summer Seasonal Ingredients

Summer treats to eat by the beach


Gardens overflow with vegetables in the summer. Yamagata dashi is a simple dish made simply by mincing okra, eggplant, cucumbers, myouga, and shiso and seasoned with soy sauce to taste. Served over a bowl of rice it’s a way to beat the heat as it does not need to be cooked. Seafood this time of year include eels, squid, shellfish, and some silver-skinned fish. Cold dishes to eat in the summer include chilled soumen noodles with a cold dipping sauce, kakigōri shaved ice, and hiyashi chūka cold ramen noodles.

Fish and seafood

aji – horse mackerel. Look for this at sushi counters or breaded and deep-fried called aji furai.

穴子 anago (Conger myriaster) – sea eel, an essential part of the Edomae sushi. For a meal of anago, check out Tamai in Nihonbashi.

アオリイカ aori ika – bigfin reef squid. Most squid to not have a fin. Rich texture.

awabi – abalone


ayu – a river fish called sweetfish. It is often salted and grilled. Has tender, delicate meat.

hamo (Muraenesox cinereus) – pike conger eel has many bones that must be cut using a special knife before cooking. It is often served with a tart umeboshi sauce.

イサキ isaki – a delicate white fish

カジキ kajiki – swordfish is a meaty fish often grilled or sauteed

kisu – sillago is a delicate small whitefish that is often battered and deep-fried. The whole fish can be eaten, from head to tail.

車海老 kuruma ebi – tiger prawn

サザエ sazae – turban shell, often grilled in its shell. The bitter innards are treasured, if you are game.

スルメイカ surumeika – Japanese common squid or flying squid. Can be prepared a variety of ways, raw, grilled, sautéed, or fermented in its guts as shiokara.

太刀魚 tachiuo – cutlassfish looks like a silvery sword. Tender white meat and the skin is paper thin. Good simply salted and grilled or as sashimi with sesame oil and salt.


unagi (Anguilla japonica) – freshwater eel that is often grilled and served on a bed of rice in a lacquer box with a sweet soy sauce dressing.



枝豆edamame – fresh soybeans, often boiled and salted. Easy to make at home.


きゅうりkyuuri – cucumber


モロヘイヤmoroheiya – a super-vegetable originally from Egypt. This thin green leaf is often made into soups.


もずくmozuku – a sea vegetable from Okinawa, often served in an aromatic tart ponzu.

茄子nasu – eggplant

にんにくninniku – garlic

オークラookura – okra

さやいんげんsaya ingen – green beans

生姜shouga – ginger. The skin of fresh ginger is thin and does not need to be peeled.

ともろこしtomorokoshi – corn


杏子anzu – Siberian apricot (Prunus armeniaca) can be used in sweets. Look for daifuku mochi with azuki bean paste and anzu.

びわbiwa – loquat is a pale orange stone fruit.


ぶどうbudou – grapes. There are many varietals of grapes grown in Japan such as Muscat of Alexandria or kyohou. The thick skins of kyohou are not eaten but peeled.

イチジクichijiku – figs. The skins on fresh figs are delicate and edible.

キウィkiwi – Japan grows green, yellow, and a rainbow red kiwi.


メロンmelon – available year-round as most are grown in greenhouses, but summer is the peak season.

ももmomo – peaches

さくらんぼうsakuranbou – cherries

すいかsuika – watermelon


ume – Japanese apricot (Prunus mume). This apricot is used for making umeboshi pickled apricots as well as ume-shu, a sweet liqueur.

柚子yuzu – in the summer yuzu are green, winter yuzu are yellow.

Also be on the lookout for kakigori, hiyashi chuka, somen,