Harumi Kurihara’s taste of home
Although she lived by the sea, brought up on fish and seaweed dishes, it’s her father’s favourite of fried chicken and leeks that is
ur family home in Shimoda, in Japan’s Shizuoka prefecture, was built by an American, so it looked western from the outside. But inside it was typically Japanese.
We didn’t have chairs, so when I was younger I dreamed of being able to live in a western house, to sit on a chair and drink coffee or to eat a baguette off a white plate. We always sat in a tatami-mat room right next to the kitchen.
My husband’s parents had an ultramodern home – his father was an English teacher and his mother liked candles and wore perfume. It was a great contrast to the understated environment I grew up in. They also ate western-style food.
In our home, we usually ate traditional Japanese meals of rice, vegetables and fish, and only a little
Omeat. We lived near the sea, so we also ate a lot of horse mackerel and kinmedai (golden-eye sea bream), usually raw as sashimi.
We often ate a seaweed dish called hijiki, plus lots of simmered dishes using kiriboshi daikon (dried daikon radish, which is rehydrated when used in cooking) and other dried goods. My mother was adept at using those in her cooking. She put sesame seeds into miso soup, spinach, cabbage, hijiki … just about everything. I remember her sitting on the kitchen floor with a pestle and mortar, grinding the seeds into a paste. She did it so often that, over time, the mortar made a dent in the doorframe.
Those days were the origins of the cookery I do now – a mixture of Japanese influences from home and western touches I learned after I met my husband.
I started cooking for my mother