• Feature

My Medicinal Cooking

  • delicious Japan
  • November 2022
  • Vol. 15

Junko Sasanuma
International Chinese Medicinal Cook, Enzyme Medicinal Cooking Teacher, Food Remedist

Junko Sasanuma works on education and outreach about medicinal cooking, through medicinal cooking classes, lunch events at restaurants, and other channels.

What was your first encounter or opportunity with medicinal cooking?

When anyone in my family is unwell, we have always chosen oriental medicine and kampo (Chinese medicine) rather than drugs. Medicinal cooking improves our constitutions, and we don't catch colds. I too got into the ideas of the five elements in Chinese medicine.

What is your basic approach to food?

Our bodies and minds come from what we eat. I think enjoying meals with all our senses, such as sight, scent, and taste, produces entertaining and delicious time that nurtures mind and body. I believe meals are about enriching our hearts, our human relationships, our jobs, and life itself, not just about filling our empty bellies.

Is that your view of life itself?

It is. No matter how affluent a person is or how many friends they have, if they are unwell in their mind and or their body, they will not be able to travel, or go to eat, or do their work, as they would like to. Our meals today nurture the minds and bodies we will have in five or ten years from now.

What should we pay attention to about the fall season, from the perspective of medicinal cooking?

When fall begins, it gets cooler and there's less rain, so the air is drier. Skin pores that were open in summer close up, so skin respiration and metabolism slow down, and the organs, nose, and lungs are burdened.

Declining immune function makes it easier to catch colds. The most important things for taking care of one's health in fall are to prevent dryness and supplement lung function. If you leave skin dryness unattended, in particular, you'll be prone to creases and wrinkles, so it's important to care for your skin by moisturizing it from within the body.

Finally, what is your ambition?

It's important for meals to be not just good for the body, but also abundant in terms of beautiful appearance and coloration, flavors such as tart, spicy, bitter, salty, and sweet, and culinary methods used, such as steaming, drying, grilling, and boiling. Above all, it's important to match your meals to the season and to your condition at that time. I want to keep on spreading the idea that people can improve their own meals by using the key points of medicinal cooking with ingredients that they have close at hand.