Regional Dishes to Try in Tōhoku
Written by Suzan Adem
Japan's Tōhoku Region (東北地方), located in the north of Japan's main island of Honshu, is renowned for producing some of Japan's highest quality agriculture. Miyagi Prefecture's sasanishiki and Akita Prefecture's Akita-komachi are two of Japan's flagship varieties of rice.
The region also produces most of Japan's succulent fruits including apples (Aomori Prefecture), pears (Yamagata Prefecture), cherries (Yamagata Prefecture) and peaches (Fukushima Prefecture). Yamagata Prefecture is famed for its beef, where beef tongue is a regional specialty, and horse meat is commonly eaten in the mountain regions of Iwate Prefecture. Akita Prefecture is best known for kiritanpo, a hot pot with pounded rice and a chicken stock
Here are a few regional specialities:
Sendai Beef Tongue
Sendai, the capital of Miyagi Prefecture and the largest city in Tōhoku, is the birthplace of gyutan, or beef tongue, which is a well-loved dish throughout Japan. There are over 100 restaurants that specialize in beef tongue in Sendai alone. The tongues are thinly sliced and grilled on a wire net on top of charcoal to remove excess oil. These tongues are known for their fragrance, crisp texture, and juiciness. It's commonly served with tail soup, barley rice and pickled bok choy.
Morioka Jajamen Noodles
A Japanese national who came back from China created this dish based on "zha jiang mian". Known as being one of the three great noodle dishes of Morioka city in Iwate, this dish is prepared by adding minced meat with miso, cucumber, and green onion, then topping it with chili oil and grated garlic which is then served on top of warm noodles. The right way to eat this is to first mix all the ingredients together to enjoy the depth in flavor of the meat, the texture of the fresh cucumber, and the pungent taste of the green onion.
The other two noodle dishes are wanko soba, where a mouthful of soba is served in a small bowl which is refilled by a server as soon as it's empty until the customer indicates that they've had enough by covering the bowl with a lid, and reimen, cold chewy noodles served in a light, spicy soup that originated from Korea.
From the tiny village of Inaniwa in Akita, Inaniwa udon noodles have been around for over 350 years. The noodles are thinner and shinier than regular udon and are handmade - a process that can take up to four days from start to finish. They're enjoyed year round and served either hot or cold.
Oma-Maguro (Bluefin Tuna)
“Black Diamond” is a nickname given to this high quality bluefin tuna, which is known throughout Japan as “Oma-Maguro”. These tuna are caught using a single fishing pole, instead of a net, which means the tuna is less likely to be scratched. It's a rare speciality with a superior taste given its balance fat content.
Aomori Prefecture, Tourism and International Affairs
Kiritanpo is a grilled local specialty in Akita Prefecture and is made from rice that is pounded into a cylindrical shape and wrapped around fine bamboo. It can be flavored and eaten with miso, or put it in a pot of soy sauce stock with burdock, parsley, mushrooms, and chicken, and eaten as Kiritanpo Nabe. Some shops even cook it over a fireplace.
About the author
Hello, my name is Suzan, 20 years old student in Sofia University, Bulgaria. My major is Japan, so as can you guess I’m now studying about their rich and beautiful culture and language as well. That is why I find great pleasure doing these articles as it gives me the opportunity to expand my knowledge and it’s easy doing something you love.