Combatting Summer Fatigue article in The Japan Times

Just a heads up to those of you who are wondering when the heck I am going to post a new recipe already around here. There is a new, summery recipe by me on The Japan Times online version today! The Japan Times is the largest English-language daily paper in Japan, and I’m happy to say that I will be writing for them occasionally about - what else? - Japanese food and cooking. The theme of this one is using food to combat natsubate, the Japanese term for “summer fatigue” or “summer lethargy” - a common malaise in most of the country, where it is unrelentingly hot and humid until about mid-October. The recipe is a very easy one to put together, essentially a meal salad with soba noodles as the base. (How to cook and rinse soba noodles properly.)

Here’s an alternate shot of the salad:

Chicken and shrimp soba salad with sesame sauce

It really is delicious, if I do say so myself!

I worked on the recipe before I was hospitalized, but had to finish the article itself while I was still there to meet the deadline. That meant taking the photo of the dish too. So, I had The Guy make the components at home and bring them in a cooler to the hospital, where I could arrange and style them and photograph them. A nurse came in while I was doing this - I was cutting up extra shiso at the time if I remember correctly - and I had to explain that ce n’est ne pas pour manger, c’est mon travail! (It’s not for eating, it’s for my work!) Fortunately it was not Madame Méchante, but one of the younger laid-back nurses, and she just laughed. Phew!

It was one of those moments when I realized that I may just be turning into a real Food Writer; who else would be crazy enough to be styling a salad in a hospital, with an IV drip in one arm, a vacuum hose dangling from my back. Surreal.

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16 comments so far...

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Re: Combatting Summer Fatigue article in The Japan Times

Haha, that's job dedication! It looks very tasty, I'll check out the article now, congratulations!

kim | 30 July, 2010 - 12:30

Re: Combatting Summer Fatigue article in The Japan Times

A tempting dish, perhaps photographed under one of the more unusual situations ever for the JT. Congratulations on publishing with them! Wow!

BrusselsSprout_Katharine | 30 July, 2010 - 14:44

Re: Combatting Summer Fatigue article in The Japan Times

You're just wonderfull! So professional! Thanks to the Guy;).Take care!

anon. | 30 July, 2010 - 15:36

Re: Combatting Summer Fatigue article in The Japan Times

Verdict's in: you're a nutcase, and so's The Guy! :-D

That's a beautiful photograph, and the recipe is exactly what my own Guy needs for this hot, muggy NYC weather which is virtually identical to Japan's this year.

Maki, you're a wonder! thanks again for all you do!

heidi | 30 July, 2010 - 19:44

Re: Combatting Summer Fatigue article in The Japan Times

"... just turning into a food writer." Maki, you are the real deal. Best wishes on you continued and speedy recovery and looking forward to what you can do when you get sprung from the 'joint'.

phoxx47 | 30 July, 2010 - 23:35

Re: Combatting Summer Fatigue article in The Japan Times

Recently discovered your blog while searching for a pão de queijo that did not require tapioca flour. So sad to hear that you are at the hospital! Hope you feel better soon!

Cecilia | 1 August, 2010 - 07:14

Re: Combatting Summer Fatigue article in The Japan Times

Congratulations with the Japan Times!

Also, I hate to be nitpicky, especially when you provide a mouthwatering photo, but just a heads up for future reference.. it is ce n'est pas pour manger. Always remember that ne...pas/rien/whatever is placed around the verb! ^_^

anon. | 2 August, 2010 - 21:13

Re: Combatting Summer Fatigue article in The Japan Times

Well I do know that much. It was a typo - I make those all the time in English or Japanese too! Anyway it's been corrected.

I appreciate all the French people coming here to correct my grammar and spelling, really (gritted teeth ^_^) I don't make a habit of going around correcting English or Japanese grammar on French sites, but whatever rocks your boat!

maki | 3 August, 2010 - 00:04

Re: Combatting Summer Fatigue article in The Japan Times

maki wrote:

Well I do know that much. It was a typo - I make those all the time in English or Japanese too! Anyway it's been corrected.

I appreciate all the French people coming here to correct my grammar and spelling, really (gritted teeth ^_^) I don't make a habit of going around correcting English or Japanese grammar on French sites, but whatever rocks your boat!

Sorry, I don't mean to offend you. I thought you might take it as an educational tip rather than something offensive, as I thought that it was an honest mistake and not merely a typo. I would want to be corrected if I had made a mistake, and I'm sure others would want to as well, so I was really trying to be helpful (which is the least I could do since you are always helpful and informative on your blogs). Again, I am sorry.

anon. | 4 August, 2010 - 22:35

Re: Nitpicky

Since you prefer to be corrected if you make a mistake, I just wanted to let you know that in many cultures, it it considered rude to publically correct someone if it is not essential to the discussion at hand.

Next time, if you really feel that it's helpful to correct a writer's grammar, maybe you could send an email instead. I'm sure that you are a really nice person who really did have good intentions, but grammar comments really distract from the focus of the post - delicious food! :-)

Alannah | 17 August, 2010 - 13:20

Re: Combatting Summer Fatigue article in The Japan Times

I really enjoyed your article in The Japan Times. It was so informative and I liked how you brought your grandmother into the story! And great photo, I can't believe you took it in the hospital hooked up to everything!

japandish | 3 August, 2010 - 11:00

Re: Combatting Summer Fatigue article in The Japan Times

The recipe sounds delicious, and I do have some soba in my pantry I've been wanting to use soon.

The weather in Japan would be a relief from the weather we're having here, in Oklahoma, USA, right now. Humid, and sometimes up to 108 Fahrenheit, not with the heat index. At night, if it cools down to anything below 90, we are happy. It's hotter than Las Vegas most days, and they live in a desert, we are surrounded by green hills, rivers and lakes.

In winter, it's colder than Alaska most of the time, which means you basically have to have cool cotton clothing and parkas within a couple months of each other.
(having a Wii with the WiiWeather channel is amazing, but makes me upset more often than not when I look at the global weather. I'm honestly starting to think I live in some weird geographic impossibility. no where on earth has the same weather patterns.)

But anyway, any and all cooling and fatigue fighting recipes are great this time of year. I wonder if I could bento it...

Ros | 5 August, 2010 - 10:12

Re: Combatting Summer Fatigue article in The Japan Times

Congratulations on the Japan Times gig - I was very happy when I saw the article. Thanks to your sites, I can actually USE the mysterious ingredients at the grocery store and not always eat pasta and pilaf. I've gotten half my foreign friends hooked on your websites - I have two jars of umeshu in my cellar, one friend makes bento worthy of a Japanese mother every day, my husband is excitedly looking up matsutake recipes as the first ones begin to appear on the shelves, another friend told me just this week how she enjoyed your recipe for ground goma dip and asparagus and I have referred my adult English conversation class to your website as an example of how to explain Japanese dishes in English. In short, I love Just Hungry/ Just Bento, and the more exposure it gets, the better! Your fan base in Gifu is very excited :-)

Nichola | 6 August, 2010 - 11:08

Re: Combatting Summer Fatigue article in The Japan Times

Thanks for this fantastic recipe. I made it on Sunday and it was a great boost! Merci beacoup!

Sobakasu | 2 September, 2010 - 21:05

Re: Combatting Summer Fatigue article in The Japan Times

Thankyou so much for this article and recipe! I am in Kyoto, suffering through record highs. I didn't realise the extent of the word natsubate, until I read this. It makes me feel so much better, knowing Autumn will cure all! In the meantime, I made this salad - delicious!

Fern | 9 September, 2010 - 17:48

Re: Combatting Summer Fatigue article in The Japan Times

Thank you for your lovely Blogs Maki. I especially enjoy the brown rice, vegetarian and vegan options as, like you, I try to be a bit healthier much of the time. Mainly so I can indulge when the mood takes me :) I was browsing through today and came across this article which is perfect timing as Perth (Western Australia) has been suffering a long, hot summer :( I will be making the Soba salad tonight!

Fleur | 26 February, 2011 - 10:43

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