The Invention of Oyster Sausages - A Delicacy from Iwate Prefecture
Written by Teresa Fong
Valentine’s Day had just taken place when I gathered my gear for a brief trip away from Tokyo. I had spent the so-called “Day of Love” stuffing myself silly with tacos and baked tortilla chips. I’m not suggesting that it wasn’t an ideal way of spending Valentine’s Day, though perhaps I went too far with the guacamole. What I needed next was something much more significant than a buffet in the middle of Tokyo’s concrete jungle.
A Bit of Bordeaux in Iwate, Japan
I had no idea that oyster sausages existed on this earth, or that they were in Iwate Prefecture. Normally, oysters and sausages don’t pair together. In Bordeaux, France, however, it is common to serve oysters with sausages. This pairing is traditionally a Christmas fare called lou-ken-kas. There is a sausage factory just 2.5 hours north of Tokyo with a forward-thinking Chief Executive Officer who has his own take on the dish. His name is Shinji Fugane.
The Bordeaux way of life inspired Mr. Fugane who thought, “I know oysters and sausages are a heavenly pair, but how are they if I put the oysters directly into the sausages?” He created these sausages, which he named “Bordeaux.” To his amazement, the flavor combinations were a perfect match.
How Does One Actually Make Oyster Sausages?
1. He first added pork and salt into what he called the “Silent Mixer.” He joked about how the machine is the exact opposite of silent. As the silent mixer minced meat, it whined like a buzz saw through wood.
He’s adding in the salt!
It shocked everyone in the group when he plunged his hand in to help further mix the load.I would have been too scared to do the same, since I had learned about the process of meat packing prior to visiting Iwate. The tour leaders reassured us by highlighting how technology in the food industry has progressed. It was an insight!
2. Next, a few amounts of measuring takes place for consistency.
Some of the tools used in the factory, include an ice pick and a motorized sausage meat filler
3. OYSTER TIME!
I really wanted to take one to eat right then and there (with some lemon).
When it’s time to add in the oysters, Mr. Fugane significantly decreases the speed of the machine to ensure the oysters maintain their soft and chewy textures. He mentioned how the oysters were freshly caught that morning from the Pacific Ocean. He said that they were so fresh, you could eat them raw on the spot. I was quite tempted to ask for one to try, but I knew they had a greater purpose… to be one with sausages!
4. It’s finally time to fill the sausage casing using a motorized filler.
The casing is super thin and fragile!
The machine is controlled by a panel you are supposed to hit with your knee, but I am only 151 centimeters tall! I had to push it with my thigh, so I felt like I was dancing while trying not to overfill or rip my casing.
Mr. Fugane ordered the casings all the way from Australia! We had two different kinds: sheep and pig. I figured that filling them with the mixture would be the same, but the sheep casings were so much harder! The casing ripped if we didn’t handle them carefully enough.
5. We are finally on the last step! It’s all about twisting, or in Japanese,“kuru kuru” (“クルクル.”) Isn’t that the cutest onomatopoeia?
We were taught to twist one sausage by holding the bordering sausages and rotating our right arm. By doing so, we are using the centrifugal force to twist the sausages.I didn’t quite understand how to properly execute this. Learning about how it works is easy enough, but the actual actions were so difficult. I ended up twisting it with my fingers, without the fancy rotations. It may have taken longer, but it worked just the same!
I was super proud here!
Oyster Sausages, “Bordeaux,” in All Its Glory
Created by a chef who trained in France
After all your hard work, you have a masterpiece. Even more, each “Bordeaux” sausage is unique because of the different sizes and textures of oysters inside. A chef who had trained in France created the sausage from the picture above. Notice its presentation with fresh greens and the crispy tail at the end. Eating a bite of that was basically an action movie being told all at once in my mouth.
Created by me...
I don’t have any training or experience, but even so, those “Bordeaux” sausages turned out delicious when I cooked them at home. The sausages don’t taste like lemon like I was hoping for. I guess that’s a good thing as that might taste horrible! I was even able to take a shot of a chunk of oyster in the sausage before I gobbled it up! I wished I had bought more, because the three I brought home only whet my appetite.
Want to Try “Bordeaux” Sausages Yourself?
If you caught yourself drooling over the sausages, you should immediately get to Iwate.
Niku no Fugane
〒028-4301 Iwate, Iwate District, Iwate, 大字Numakunai, 7−23
If you have a JR Pass, take the Tohoku-Hokkaido Shinkansen from Tokyo Station to Iwatenumakunai Station. It’s only 5 stops and approximately 2.5 hours. After that, it’s only 20 minutes away by foot.
About the author:
About the author: Teresa Fong is Fiji-born, America-raised, and is currently working in Tokyo. She loves listening to podcasts about self-help and crime. Currently on a mission to improve her digital art skills, but a love for meeting with friends in new cafes gets in the way! She's currently eight months into an ab challenge, giving her some amazing lines that unfortunately disappear the moment she bends down. You can check her out on Instagram @imterryf.