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Fermentation Cooking and 3-Day Traditional House Stay in Nara
Village to Table • Nara
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"Learn about the culture of fermented food in Nara and create excellent meals with a local fermentation expert during this 3-day homestay."
Nara prefecture, famous for delicious sake, is also known for several other fermented foods like narazuke (Nara pickles), a popular food souvenir from the area. From her traditional Japanese house, Ms. Maeda’s goal is to share this ancient food culture with visitors from around the world, teaching them about the subtle art of fermentation.

During this homestay, you’ll learn all about the different fermented foods made in the area, including koji, miso, and tsukemono (pickled vegetables) during four lectures. You’ll also be able to explore the surrounding area, including the Yamanobe trail, one of the oldest recorded Japanese roads.

Many of the essential ingredients of Japanese cuisine start with koji. Considered Japan’s “national mold,” koji is an edible fungus that’s used to inoculate grains like rice or barley, and forms the backbone of fermented foods like sake, miso, soy sauce, vinegar, and mirin. For the first lecture, your host Maeda-san will teach you about the slow but rewarding process of using koji, and how people 1,000 years ago established fermentation techniques that are still used today. You’ll then have the opportunity to make your own koji starter for use in the recipes to follow.

Over the course of three days, you’ll cook every meal together, using local ingredients and homemade fermented products. For dinner, Maeda-san will teach you easy-to-follow recipes that you can recreate at home. For example, make a salad featuring seasonal ingredients like strawberries, mixed with fermented ingredients like miso to create a unique dish. And you’ll find that combining vegan cream cheese and miso with hoshigaki (dried persimmon) creates a sweet and salty dessert!

Breakfast time means more experimenting in the kitchen, this time making balls of miso that can be used as “instant” miso soup. You’ll also learn how to make amazake (a sweet beverage made from fermented rice) with homemade koji rice and fresh seasonal fruit, and savory porridge made with sweet potato and mushroom. Your host's extensive knowledge of fermentation and cooking means every meal you make with her will be delicious, local, and healthy!

Highlights

  • Prepare a variety of food made from miso and other local ingredients
  • Explore the ancient Yamanobe trail of Nara
  • Learn cooking techniques and recipes for cooking with fermented foods
  • Spend time with a host who's passionate about the local culture and cuisine

Inclusions

  • 3-day stay at a local experts house
  • All meals made from home-made fermented food and other local ingredients
  • Lectures on the cooking and fermentation process of koji