Ume- The Japanese Plum

Japanese-plum-treeMany of you may have heard of Ume (the japanese plum) or have had the pleasure of tasting it in some form in Japanese cuisine. For those of you that have not it is definitely a must try and good for you at that. A question that many people ask after trying it, especially those that are garden inclined is, “How do I grow my own plum tree?” Although the Japanese plum tree does fair better in certain climates, for those of you that live where it will thrive don’t be intimidated to try and grow and maintain your own.  With the help of a tree expert at Tempe Tree Care , we have not only the proper measures to take to ensure its abundant growth and maintenance, but also a little bit of history and info on the tree for all!

The Japanese Plum Tree Facts & Care

  • The Japanese plum tree originated in China and was first introduced to the United States in 1870
  • The general season for the plum tree is Spring through Fall
  • They need 6-8 hours of direct sunlight each day
  • Need nutrient rich soil as to make sure they absorb enough water and nutrients to thrive
  • They tend to grow to about 10-30 feet & planting another lum tree withing in close range as to allow growth of each will also help with pollination of the trees & an abundance of fruit
  • Major pruning of the tree should be done during dormant seasons and must be pruned lightly during growth seasons
  • Broken, dead or rotting  branches must be removed immediately
  • Tree should be checked for ragged or torn sites as to prevent diseaseume-tree-blossoms from inhibiting the tree
  • If the climate is too moist it will create fungus based infections in the tree
  • Should you try your hand at growing a plum tree make sure your maintenance and care routine for the tree is based around your climate to make sure you are providing the best and most proper growing conditions for the tree
  • The tree has beautiful blossoms and they are celebrated in japan each year upon blooming.

One of the best ways to enjoy the Japanese plum or Ume is in Umeboshi, which is basically a pickled version of the plum, but oh so tasty. You can find Umeboshi at most Asian stores, however if you are growing your one plums why not try your hand at making your own.  It does not require a lot of ingrediants but may take a little time and prep. The ingredients you will need are as follows:

  • Shochu- a distilled alcohol type drink used for the brine/pickling
  • Umeboshi-japanUme Plums whivh are best used in Spring
  • Red Shiso Leaves
  • Coarse Sea Salt
  • Pickling jars

If you do not live in the climate to grwo your own tree it is defintely advised that you purchae Ume and Umeboahi at any Asian store and give it a try.  Its great for you and so delicious!


The Most Popular Fish In Japanese Cuisine

japaense-food-fishWe know that the Japanese love fish and that a lot of their dishes and diet consist of the creatures from the sea or fresh water. You may have also read in our last article that Japan is the #1 fish importer in the world! That being said what types of fish are actually the most popular in Japanese cuisine.  Many think tuna takes the top spot but you may actually be surprised! Check out our list of Japan’s top fish.

Top 5 Fish Consumed in Japanese Culture

  • Chum Salmon-  We told you that tuna wasn’t number one, which in a sense is hard chum-salmonto believe.  Especially when you think of sushi and how many different rolls in can be incorporated in. Chum Salmon is widely popular for its use in bento boxes and other Japanese inspired dishes.  Salmon also happens to be the favorite fish among women in the Japanese culture, which is another fun fact.
  • Bluefin Tuna- Tuna may have not made the number one spot but it did come close and takes spot number two.  Just as women in Japan favor salmon the men in Japan favor bluefin tuna. This is also the tuna that is usually found in all those delicious sushi rolls that you love that incorporate tuna in them
  • Mackerel- Not just any type of mackerel, horse mackerel to be specific.  This fish is usually deep fried before using in dishes. However, they do appreciate macakerel of all types as well.
  • eel-japanese-cuisineEel- We know that eel sauce is common in Japanese dishes but the thought of eating eel isn’t so appealing to some.  However in japanese cuisine eel is very tasty and adds heartiness to dishes because of its meaty and filling textures. Eel is often eaten in the winter months in Japan but when enjoyed in summer many people believe it helps to lessen the heat and humidity that can creep into Japan’s temperatures.
  • Sea Bream-  This fish is enjoyed both raw and fried and can be added to a number of japanese dishes.  It is highly thought of as a fish to be served at celebrations and special occasions. It is also thought to bring good luck to the consumer.

One thing is certain the Japanese certainly do have a lot of different and authentic preparation styles for fish.  While some dishes may seem a bit intimidating to try at first you may just be surprised how delicious they really are.  If you are just beginning your exploration into Japanese cuisine and aren’t quite sure about eating sashimi or raw fish, stick with the cooked or fried fish dishes and ease your way into them.  With such a high consumption of fish the Japanese not only appreciate great quality and grade of fish, freshness is also highly looked for. The fresher the fish the better the dish.

Getting To Know Japanese Culture

As with all cultures, Japanese cuisine is heavily influenced by its culture, traditionsjapanese-culture and ingredients that are indigenous to the land. In previous articles we have talked about the different ingredients that are staples to the Japanese diet, how to make sushi at home and also some of their quirky fun, like their first ever hot tub amusement park. Before we dive more into Japanese cuisine we thought we would share a little bit more on the Japanese culture.

Getting To Know The Japanese Culture

  • The country of Japan is made up of 6,900 islands
  • 73% of the country is actually made up of mountains, although the majority of people reside along the coastlines
  • It is deemed one of the most densely populated countries in its region
  • The Japanese language is comprised of 3 different alphabets: Kanji, Hiragana and Katakana
  • japan-religion-buddhismThe earlier culture of Japan was heavily influenced by China, however over the years Western culture has began to influence lifestyle, food and art
  • There are 2 main religions in Japan that are followed: Buddhism and Shinto
  • The biggest holiday celebrated is New Years, although during summer & spring months celebrations of the god Matsuri take place
  • Sports are huge in Japan and mainly center around Sumo, Judo and Karate, although baseball, rugby and soccer have shown influence over the years as well
  • Japanese are primarily fish eaters although they do enjoy other meats as well
  • Japan is the #1 fish importer in the world!
  • Japanese don’t believe tipping is customary when dining out, riding in cabs etc.
  • Japanese believe in taking their shoes off before they their home or others homes.  If there is a tatami mat or other type of mat near the door that generally means that shoes should be removed before entering.
  • Slurping your noodles is considered part of the Japanese custom andchopsticks-etiquette shows that you are enjoying your food
  • It’s important that you use chopsticks the RIGHT way and with proper etiquette

Often times we are so used to the culture we ourselves live in that we don’t necessarily recognize the importance different things or ways play in another culture.  Taking time to understand a culture that is different than are own can not only be fascinating and exciting it can also teach us a lot about different parts of the world.  Just like we enjoy the cuisine of other cultures we should open our minds and hearts to enjoying the vulture as a whole.