In the sunny, pre-pandemic summer season that now feels like a distant dream, I had joined the Future Food Institute on a special field trip to Brown’s Field, an organic farm, café, shop and guesthouse on the Boso Peninsula. After an 80km-long train ride from central Tokyo, our group of sustainable food lovers from around the world (who we affectionately called “Food Shapers) arrived in a sea of green and were soon greeted by happy goats and the farmers Junko Kobayashi and Minto Brown, the sweet son of photographer Everett Kennedy Brown and macrobiotic chef Deco Nakajima who started the farm in 1999. To this day, Brown’s Field continues to preserve and celebrate Japanese slow living and serves as a peaceful escape from busy urban life.
So we toured the traditional Japanese farmhouse (called a kominka) and the fragrant fields of wheat, rice and plums.We enjoyed nagashi somen, a fun practice of catching noodles as they slide down a bamboo shoot and engaged in an enlightening talk about sustainability and climate change. That day, so serene, yet enlivening, ended with a macrobiotic cooking class and a feast of freshly picked produce and playfully prepared dishes.
While some foodies went out into the field to harvest, I volunteered in the kitchen where I made the Italian / Japanese “polpetta” with my Future Food colleague Claudia. Junko had discovered this recipe at a sake brewery and gave us a delicious dough to work with. We rolled the mixture into small balls and then covered them playfully in panko (Japanese breadcrumbs). This messy, hands-on method inspired us to make up silly songs like carefree children. I look back on this pre-COVID experience with a craving for conviviality and this hearty feast. I hope you’ll enjoy this recipe as much as we did (a fun activity for those with little ones at home)!
Vegan Potato Cream Polpetta with Sake Lees
3-4 Potatoes – peeled, cut in small pieces
Sake Lees White Sauce (100g)
Salt (2-3 teaspoons)
Pepper (2 teaspoons)
Parsley (a handful)
Panko breadcrumbs (500g)
Olive oil (enough to deep fry)
Steam the potato well.
Mash steamed potato and add sake lees white sauce (see recipe below), salt, pepper and parsley and mix well.
Store it in the fridge until cooled, then roll the dough into balls, cover in panko and deep fry in oil until crispy.
Sake Lees White Sauce
Sake lees white sauce is amazing and useful sauce, which you can use in pasta, doria (similar to rice casserole), gratin and soup!
Sake lees 50g (about 2 tablespoons)
Soy milk 600g
Brown rice flour or rice flour 90g
Salt 2-3 teaspoons
Garlic 1 clove (minced)
3 teaspoons of olive oil
1 bay leaf
White pepper and nutmeg powder to taste
Mix sake lees, soy milk, rice flour and salt in a bowl. Heat olive oil and garlic in a pan on low for a couple of minutes until fragrant. When garlic starts to smell good, put sliced onion and salt and stir until onion gets soft and sweet. Add the mixed ingredients from the bowl little by little into the pan. Stir until smooth. Add bay leaf, white pepper, nutmeg and store in a container. It lasts for two weeks in the fridge.
JULIA // Tokyo