Thursday, April 07, 2016

Tohoku Kyodo Ryori & Sake is so Good! Unique Flavours from Japan's North-East!


Eugene Chua writes
Featuring Kyodo Ryori (郷土料理) or traditional local cuisine, from the Tohoku region, in particular, Iwate, Miyagi and Fukushima Prefectures

11 March 2011 - A great magnitude-9.0 earthquake struck the Pacific Coast of Tohoku, Japan. The largest earthquake to have ever hit the island nation, it triggered a massive tsunami which brought great devastation upon the region, wrecking properties, taking lives, and sparking several nuclear accidents.

Five years have passed since the incident and the people are slowly recovering.
With their scrupulous methods to maintain food quality, the export of food maintains its high quality and standards.

XDantheManX Online was extremely honoured to be invited to the Tohoku "Full Bloom" Food Cooking  & Tasting Media Event on 18th March at ABC Cooking Studio, a popular Japanese-style cooking studio in Takashimaya Singapore.

Mr Fujita Takeshi, Fukushima Prefectural Government Farm Products Marketing Division Senior Staff kicked things off with a greeting before the emcees enlightened us with a quick introduction of the Tohoku (North-East) region of Japan, an area consisting of six prefectures in the north of Japan's largest island, Honshu.

Mr Takeshi sharing about several dishes from Fukushima Prefecture

Programme for the day

The highlight for the day was Kyodo Ryori, which meant "local specialities" in English, from the Tohoku Region. An extremely eye-opening experience for everyone, we were not only able to sample the cuisine, but also take home its recipes and learn how to prepare it. We were greeted with neatly-arranged ingredients on our tables before the cooking demonstration began.

Apples, Avocado and everything nice!

Tohoku Kyodo-Ryori

The menu for the day consisted of the main dish Harako-meshi, the side dish Hiyayakko with Tomato and Onion Sauce and the dessert, Sake Cocktail with Apple Gelee.

With steps that were fairly easy to follow and clear instructions, we were able to prepare the dishes easily.

Harako-meshi (Harako Rice)

Miyagi (located at the southern Tohoku region) is famous for its production of seafood and its most honorable dish is the Harako-meshi. Significantly different from a typical seafood don (rice bowl), the salmon is cooked before the rice here.

Slicing the salmon

Salmon simmering in the soy stock

Thereafter, the rice is cooked using the salmon broth, giving it a very nice texture and unique flavor. The taste of the rice is dependent on the broth and thus, the taste differs when it is prepared differently by different families.

Little orange gems of ikura

Diced avocado pieces were added to the dish to increase its aesthetic appeal for this event. In addition, we had it topped with a generous serving of ikura (salmon roe).

Harako-meshi topped with ikura, seaweed and avocado

Hiyayakko with Tomato and Onion Sauce

The cold tofu which the Japanese like does not only contain dried bonito and soy sauce but also other ingredients which they love! In this event, tomatoes and broccoli sprouts were used, along with a special onion sauce which could be easily prepared using the microwave.

The tofu melts in your mouth while the onion sauce enhances your appetite. The mild taste of the onion sauce tingles and teases your taste buds before the smooth texture of the tofu flows down your tongue and completes this unique dish perfectly. What's more- this healthy dish goes extremely well with sake!

Hiyayakko with Tomato and Onion Sauce

Sake Cocktail with Apple Gelee

The colour of the cocktail is dependent on the skin of the apple here, as it is what gives it its colour. The cocktail is made easy for those who are drinking Japanese sake for the first time. The apple was sweet and the sake was not too heavy.

Preparing the Apple Gelee!

The combination of the sweet fruit and light sake was nicely balanced in such a way where one experiences the sweetness of the apple first before the sake creeps in at the back, accentuating the apple flavor, making it an absolute must-have dessert to end this unique and refreshing meal.

Before the sake is added

Sake Cocktail with Apple Gelee topped with mint leaves

While we savoured the dishes which we had prepared, a glass of sake (Japanese rice wine) was presented in front of everyone. With that, the Sake Seminar, presented by Japan's fifth inaugurated Sake Samurai and Sake Sommelier, Mariko Kiyonaga was off to a start.

Sharing deep insights into sake making and its other related aspects such as rice polishing, she offered an enriching and entertaining segment with very clear-cut explanations.

The sake that had been presented was the SUZUNE WABI by ICHINOKURA<MIYAGI> A sparkling sake that was very refreshing to drink, it was very light, with an alcohol content of only five percent. It is made from Toyonishiki syunyo rice with a polishing ratio of 65%.

SUZUNE WABI - The Sparkling Sake

We were treated to another sake next, the JUNMAISHU<MIYAGI>, with an alcohol content of 15.5%. The rice used this time was different, Manahime, although it had the same polishing ratio of 65%. Boasting a high impact when drunk, it delivers an unforgettable punch as it enters your mouth.


We got to sample the TOKUBETSU JUMMAI by OKUNOMATSU<FUKUSHIMA> next. With 15% alcohol content, it is made by fermenting Menkoina rice with a polishing ratio of 60%. A faint sweetness could be tasted and it took a spot among our favourite sakes.


Lastly, we had the UMESHU (plum liquor) by NANBUBIJIN<IWATE>, with an alcohol content hovering only between nine and ten percent. It is made with the Junmaishu Ume (plum). The plum's taste was very distinct and the alcohol was not overwhelming at all. Strongly recommended for all plum lovers!


The sakes may be found at several Japanese supermarkets and specialty stores in Singapore.
1) ISETAN                      ->
2) MEIJIYA                    ->
3) J-MART                     ->

After getting the opportunity to savour the delectable Tohoku Kyodo-Ryori, we have certainly developed a greater appreciation for the region's cuisine.

Though it is well-known for mainly sushi and ramen, Japan has plenty of amazing and unique fare from its many different communities waiting to be experienced by you.

If we had the chance, we would most certainly love to experience their rich culture and cuisine.

Would you?

All the food and sake!