Sponsored by Saga Prefectural Tourism Federation
For a chance to try making food with some locally grown ingredients, visit Saga’s Nishiyamada Farm.
Nishiyamada Farm is located in the north area of Saga. This traditional farm grows a variety of fruit and vegetables which change seasonally. It was opened in 1997 as a kind of farm theme park where people can visit to pick fruit and vegetables, as well as try making some local cuisine.
In winter, you can try making tsukemono – a kind of Japanese side dish marinated in vinegar. The tsukemono here is made with daikon, kombu and chili peppers. The daikon is cut then marinated in the ingredients, making it soft and giving it a tart flavour. Kombu is a type of seaweed which is often used in Japanese cuisine. This is your chance to try your hand at Japanese cooking!
When you first arrive at the farm you are taken to the daikon field to pick your own daikon. You can choose how many you would like with the price based on weight. The farm staff will help you find the biggest daikon and show you how to pull it out of the ground. After this you pull the daikon leaves off and can choose to take them home to make something with them.
After you have your daikon, you head back to the main building to wash them.
Then it’s back to the kitchen to start preparing the daikon. First you cut the top and tail off the daikon before peeling it. At this point it is weighed so the price can be decided.
You then cut the daikon into large piece and lay it in the bottom of a large tub. After this, sprinkle salt over the top – the amount of salt is also determined by the weight of daikon.
Once the salt is sprinkled on, all that’s left to do is put the weight on top and the first stage of the cooking is done! Now it needs to be left for one day like this.
You can complete the next stage yourself, either by visiting the farm a second time or by having the daikon posted to you.
You can also sample a finished product here before you leave.
The next step is to marinate your daikon in new ingredients – a mix of sake, sugar and vinegar. For each 1kg of daikon you need 160g of sugar, 40cc of sake and 40cc of vinegar. After draining any water from the daikon, mix up these ingredients well and pour them over the daikon. Mix one more time and leave it to marinate for another day. The daikon will soak up the flavour and soften.
When this is done, add kombu and chili pepper. You can decide how much to add to suit your tastes!
Now your homemade tsukemono is ready to eat! It has a strong flavour with a tart, slightly sweet taste. Usually tsukemono are eaten in small doses, so you can cut it into slices and eat it with your meal. You may have tried different kinds of tsukemono in Japanese restaurants or with bento lunchboxes.
Nishiyamada Farm also has other lessons you can try, such as jam making and making soba noodles from scratch. There are other types of tsukemono using ingredients like cucumber and takana – leaf mustard. In autumn you can try making dried persimmons. Whenever you visit, there’s something new to try!
At different times of the year you can also go fruit picking, and eat all you want in 30 minutes! Then you can buy and take home some the fruit you pick. From June to mid-August, blueberry picking is in season. In August and September grapes are in season and from mid-October to mid-December you can pick mandarin oranges.
This is a great way to try some Japanese cooking, even if you’re completely new to it. The staff are very friendly and demonstrate everything, so the class is easy to follow. It’s also a chance to try some locally grown food.
If you are travelling with kids, this is something they could enjoy!
Among some of the products they sell is a blueberry liquor. This is made on the farm with blueberries grown there. You can try this delicious and sweet drink, then buy a bottle to take home if you like it!
Nishiyamada Farm is located in Yamato Town, which is north of Saga City. Since it is quite far out from the city, the easiest way to get there is by taxi. It takes around half an hour from Saga City.
Why not try your hand at some Japanese cooking? It’s easier than you might think, and there are other ready made foods made from locally picked ingredients to try.
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|Address||Kawakami 1955-1, Ooaza, Yamato Cho, Saga City, Saga Prefecture 840-0214|
|Access||[map]Kawakami 1955-1, Ooaza, Yamato Cho, Saga City, Saga Prefecture 840-0214[/map]|
|Opening Hours||up to lesson|