Take a bite of goya (bitter gourd) and you will feel the energy of summer. Although it is often enjoyed in “chanpuru” (stir-fry), Yoko Munakata of the Better Home Association suggests using the vegetable in jeon, a Korean pancake-like dish. The chewy dough makes a nice contrast with the crisp goya. Fresh goya has a bumpy surface that is firm and glossy. By mixing flour and katakuriko starch in a ratio of 8-to-2, you get a jeon that is crispy on the outside and chewy on the inside. The recipe serves two.
“An ingredient is ‘in season’ when it is fully prepared and telling us, ‘eat now,’ ” says Kimio Tomura, owner of a Japanese restaurant who believes 80 percent of the cooking is done if you can capture this moment.
Nowadays, you can buy pretty much anything all year round in Japan, and people seem quite intent on getting ahead of the seasons. Why not relish the spring with clam-flavored “chawanmushi,” an egg custard dish?