You might think that macrobiotic cooking is the antithesis of what I do, and in actual fact, you would be quite right. It is very much at odds with the French facon de manger and the food I have made my name cooking. While I love to eat lots of vegetables and wouldn’t consider myself a big meat eater, you’ll never be able to tear me away from an oozy piece of brie or a flaky croissant. But macrobiotic expert Deco Nakajima had other plans for me.
Author of around eight cookbooks, which are proudly on display as you enter her beautiful ryokan Jiji no Ie, Deco is a well-established name in the macrobiotic cooking world. The diet involves a great deal of whole grains supplemented with local vegetables, legumes, sea vegetables, miso and many other ferments. And this is far from a fad diet, this is a way of life thought to restore or maintain good health and even go as far as cure illnesses.
The Chiba prefecture sits on a jutting out bit of land just south of Tokyo, making it an easy commute or welcome retreat from the city. The pace of life is a world apart from Tokyo. The homes are spread out, there’s a coastline of surf, plenty of agriculture and each home we see appears to have easily enough produce growing to be entirely self-sufficient and then some.
Deco grows rice, which is being harvested and hung up to dry when we visit, as well as a seasonal rotation of vegetables and fruits. Watch my YouTube video for a glimpse into what life in Chiba is like:
After a ramble around her fields, we had the pleasure of watching her and her assistant Kayoko prepare a beautiful menu from homemade dried daikon, bitter melon plucked from the garden and other such delights.
Marinated Persimmon & Vegetables by Deco Nakajima
1/8 red onion
1/4 (150g) cabbage
1/4 tsp salt
2 leaves red cabbage
For the marinade
1/2 tbsp umeboshi vinegar (Japanese plum)
1 tbsp brown rice vinegar
1 tbsp olive oil
2 tbsp soy sauce
Peel and cut the onion into fine rounds, soak in water and drain.
Cut the carrot into thin matchsticks, and the cabbage into bite sizes.
Peel off the skin off the persimmons and cut into 1 cm rounds.
Rub the slices of onion, carrot and celery with salt. Set aside for 10 minutes in a colander. Gently squeeze out the excess liquid.
Mix together all the ingredients for the marinade.
In a separate bowl, mix the red cabbage leaves with the persimmon and salted vegetables with the marinade sauce.
Leave for a while to allow the flavours to develop.
*This can keep for few days in a refrigerator. You can enjoy fresh taste right away as week as stronger taste one or two days later.
You can replace the persimmon with apple or pear.