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HIRO AND HISAKOSpring Cooking

The name Hiro Yamamoto may be familiar to you, if you’ve followed us and have seen - and maybe enjoyed - her knit toques. Hiro’s interests span far and wide, all done with a certain sensibility, and an enviable nonchalant perfection. Her sister Hisako is just the same, and they share many interests, for instance in macrobiotic cooking. Hiro first came across it in a bookstore in Kyoto, and the very next day she went to one of the listed centres to study. Feeling that the healing power of food would resonate with Hisako, she shared the books with her sister, which eventually led Hisako to study in Boston twenty years ago.

Spending time with these two is such a delight, and we feel fortunate to have them in our family. Not only are they unfailingly kind, generous and fun, they are incredible cooks and also give us a glimpse into Japanese cooking that rarely leaves the family home.

We asked them to share a recipe with us, one that would feel fresh and spring-like. Immediately they proposed chirashi sushi, but done Kyoto- and home-style, “the way your mom would make. Every house has their own version of this dish. Our mom would make it with green beans and corn,” says Hiro. Very different from Toyko-style, which is topped with fish, Kyoto-style chirashi is almost always vegetarian, only sometimes topped with cooked eel.

For us, they wanted to make a version with lots of colours and textures. “Having lots of colours is very important,” said Hisako. You can use whatever vegetables you like; they cooked them each individually, then diced them into the same size.

Rice
Short grain Japanese rice is a must here. Once cooked, prepare as you would for sushi, mixing sweetened vinegar into it evenly. Hisako added matcha to give it the beautiful green hue. For 2 cups of uncooked rice, you would use about ¼ cup rice vinegar, 4 teaspoons of sugar, and 1 teaspoon matcha. Heat the vinegar and stir in the sugar to dissolve, then stir in the matcha. Once your rice is cooked, drizzle over the vinegar and mix in using a wooden spoon or spatula.

Shiitake
Use dried shiitake mushrooms, and simmer them in a slightly diluted soy sauce that’s sweetened with sugar. Simmer until the liquid has all evaporated and then allow to cool.

Beets
Cook the beets however best suits you, then dice them and marinate in vinegar.

Lotus Root
Boil slices until tender but crispy, then marinate them in a sweetened vinegar.

Kamaboko (fishcake)
The sisters have a sweet sakura cutter they used to cut out shapes for spring flair.

Egg omelette
A classic tamago omelette was made and then cut into chiffonade, but it could be diced, as you wish. 

Cucumber and cherry tomatoes, sliced
Finally, assemble all the pieces together, any way that pleases you. The best part about home style chirashi-don is that you can show some personality with your plating!

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