Thursday, March 6, 2014

Nankoku City’s Shamo Hotpot

Shamo hotpot, born from the
locals pride for Nankoku City.
Revitalizing Nankoku City—The Gomen Shamo Research Consortium’s Initiative
   Shamo were originally bred and raised not for consumption, but for cockfighting. In the old days, birds that lost their fights were used for food in hotpot dishes, but today they are hardly ever eaten. However, we wanted to do something to make Nankoku City into a place that children could be proud to call home! We wanted to revitalize our city! The people of Saitani in Nankoku, had a custom of making shamo hotpot as a memorial to Ryoma Sakamoto (※), so in 2008, five other volunteers and I started city revitalization efforts by combining our “impressive local history” and “bountiful and fresh vegetables”.
(※ It is said that Ryoma Sakamoto loved shamo hotpot and was making it right before he was assassinated.)
Starting from scratch, and led by passion
   We really had to build the shamo industry from the ground up. Shamo livestock didn’t even exist in the first place, but we were able to get our hands on some birds with the help of the Kochi Prefectural Livestock Experiment Station. Next we had to get farmers to raise the birds and then think of potential recipes. We had no experience, had no idea whether or not we could expect profits. We reached our current state only through the help of many people along the way. Additionally, because shamo are fighting birds, they occasionally fought and died on the farm.

   We laugh about it now, but the first shamo I saw was actually kind of scary, and although I said I wanted to revitalize Nankoku City with shamo hotpot, I really wasn’t sure of where to start.
Tomoyuki Tachibana, Chairman of the Board of Directors,
Gomen Shamo Research Consortium.
Looking to the future
   Right now we just want to raise awareness about shamo hotpot , get more people to try it, increase the number of farmers helping us raise shamo, and increase the number of restaurants selling shamo from 20 to 30.

 We would also like to work with some other organizations to produce collaborations like adding sake evocative of Ryoma (※) to current shamo hotpot or shamo sukiyaki set meals.
(※ There are a number of brands of sake that make Kochi residents think of the heroic Ryoma Sakamoto through naming, labels, etc.)
   Our goal at the Gomen Shamo Research Consortium is to use local produce (Chisan) that is consumed (Sho) by visitors (Rai) (※ Chisan Rai Sho). Essentially, to get pe ople to come to Nankoku to eat Shamo. We want new people to come to Nankoku City, we want people from the city to be able to come back any time, and we want our young people to be proud of their home town. We
would love to someday hear people from outside of Kochi to say, “Kochi has good katsuo, but they also have good shamo!”

   Currently, we want to start an initiative where schools in the city have one day when the school lunch consists entirely of ingredients made in Nankoku. On that day, we would travel school to school to introduce our work to the students. We really want to do something that kids can be proud of.
A word to our readers
   We try our best to raise shamo the old fashioned way, striving for a delicious natural flavor. Surely it has a texture unlike anything you’ve eaten before. Shamo raised with love has a certain firmness and rich flavor. Even the skin is delicious! Come and try some shamo!
Gomen Shamo Research Consortium
Address: 2-3-13 Gomenmachi, Nankoku City 〒783-0011
TEL: 088-855-7418 FAX: 088-855-7419
※ The above website contains information about where you can eat shamo hotpot. Shamo hotpot kits are also available for purchase.
(Interviewer: Scott Parks)

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