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10 Japanese Summer Festival Food You Can Make At Home

10 Japanese Summer Festival Food You Can Make At Home

Japanese summer festivals called matsuri are now in full swing in Japan! And while several locals watch large mikoshi floats, dress in yukata, revel in the parades, and enjoy the best Matsuri street foods, FOMO just can’t be avoided when you’re on the other side of the world!

Shake it off and echo the summer festival atmosphere from wherever you are with these popular and easy-to-prepare matsuri foods! Don’t worry, we’ll help you with the basic ingredients!

Easy Matsuri Japanese Summer Food

1. Yakitori - Charcoal-Grilled Meat

Grilled food and barbeque are must-haves in summer festivities across the globe–even in Japan! Yakitori, which means grilled bird, refers to skewered chicken that’s grilled over a fiery hot charcoal fire. While on the grill, a sweet and savory tare seasoning made of a combination of soy sauce, mirin, sake, and sugar is brushed over the meat for that mouth-watering gloss!

Yakitori comes in several varieties depending on which part of the chicken is being grilled. Apart from the usual chicken breasts, thighs, or wings, there’s also chicken gizzard, liver, and even small intestines!

2. Iyaki - Grilled Squid

Festivals are all about food that’s easy to eat. No wonder matsuri festivals are filled with skewered meats that anyone can bite into while sight-seeing and enjoying the festivities. While yakitori looks nice and pretty with its glossy sheen from the tare, there’s iyaki grilled squid. It may look intimidating but it’s incredibly delicious. While it’s seasoned only with soy sauce, the squid offers a briny seafood flavor that’s enough to make this dish a Matsuri standout. Plus, one bite will surely remind you of summer days by the ocean.

3. Tomorokoshi - Soy-seasoned Corn

Just like barbecues, it seems like corn in a cob is also universally popular in summer festivals! In Japan, soy sauce takes the spotlight. If it sounds like an odd combination, better give it a taste to see how it all makes sense! First, they strip away the husk and silk of the corn just to the end before braiding it to make a handle. Then, it’s basted with soy sauce and placed on a well-oiled grill for a charred savory flavor. There’s also corn that’s seasoned with Japanese favorites like miso butter, honey, salt, togarashi, and others!

4. Karaage

Let me continue the skewered food saga with a classic–karaage. If you think this is just your regular fried chicken, think again! Karaage comes in bite-sized chicken pops that are marinated in soy sauce, mirin, garlic, and ginger, coated with seasoned flour, then deep fried until golden brown. It’s super juicy, ultra crispy, and festival-friendly too, especially since it’s served in large paper cups with wooden skewers. It’s a guaranteed hit among kids and kids-at-heart alike.

5. Okonomiyaki

Looks like a pancake, but really more like an omelet on overdrive– that’s what an Okonomiyaki is! It’s an easy and delicious way to finish your leftovers. Simply prepare a pancake-like batter, then mix in cabbage, green onions, and choice of meat, if any. Fry it on a hotplate and top with Kewpie mayonnaise and Bulldog Sauce.

Basic Japanese Matsuri Food Ingredients

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6. Japanese Korroke

The beauty of most Japanese street food is that most of it is easy to make from scratch–just like these Potato Korroke or Croquette Balls. It’s made from a mix of minced beef, mashed potatoes, carrots, and onions, which are then formed into balls, coated in crispy panko, and then deep-fried. What makes it special is its ASMR-worthy crunch on the outside and hoku-hoku texture on the inside of the potatoes, which refers to a starchy, dense, sweet mouthfeel. Dip it in ketchup or barbeque sauce for an extra oomph in flavor!

7. Yakisoba Fried Noodles

When it comes to food, it’s hard to pick favorites. But it is said that Japan’s number one matsuri food is yakisoba! It’s no surprise that the top dish is a noodle dish because it’s easy to eat while still being filling and flavorful! Yakisoba noodles are stir-fried in a hot plate with oyster sauce, diced cabbage, and thin slices of pork. Despite the name, these noodles aren’t really soba noodles. They’re actually wheat-based noodles, just like ramen! Katsuobushi or bonito fish flakes is garnished on top for added umami.

8. Japanese Summer Snack: Dango

Let’s move on to sweets and desserts, starting with one of the most popular Matsuri desserts–Dango! This rice dumpling dessert can be likened to mochi. Only that it’s made from rice flour than the rice itself. Plus, much like other Matsuri food, 3-5 dangos are served in skewers and are dipped in a sweet soy glaze. Because of its versatility and ease of preparation, it can easily be customized to fit any occasion. Some other popular dango flavors are matcha, strawberry, sakura, and more!

9. Kakigori

No summer festival is complete without coolers. Instead of ice cream, the Japanese indulge in kakigori, a shaved ice dessert flavored with sweet syrups and condensed milk. Compared to a snow cone, it has a lighter and fluffier texture, much like fallen snow. Strawberry, green tea, plum, melon, and other fruity flavors are popular syrups. Real fruit bits are also added as toppings. Condensed milk doubles the sweetness of this dessert. It’s desserts like these that will make you want summer to last forever!

I’m sure you’ve seen those fish-shaped desserts on TV or online but do you know what is it exactly? These are taiyaki, which means grilled sea bream. If you think this is a seafood dessert, you’re in for a surprise! Taiyaki is fish-shaped cakes with a sweet bean paste filling called anko. At festivals, these are usually made fresh and served piping hot. Other popular fillings include custard cream, matcha, and more.

The good news is, you can buy anko at your local grocery store. You can even snag a taiyaki mold online!

If you’re in Japan during Japanese Summer Festival season, don’t pass up the chance to try these Matsuri street foods. But if you’re still waiting your turn, I highly recommend you make these from your home, especially during this summer to mirror all the fun that’s happening from the other side of the world!

Most ingredients are simple and can be found in Karman Foods’ selections. Just think of it as early preparation for the real deal, when traveling to Japan becomes much easier!

For more Japanese snacks and groceries online, shop at Karman Foods!

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