Tuesday, September 27, 2016

A Treasure Trove of Ingredients: Kochi’s Food Culture

   Kochi Prefecture is full of nature with mountains, rivers, and the sea. As a result, it is one of the few prefectures blessed with abundant seasonal foods. Utilizing a vast range of high quality ingredients available within the prefecture, Kochi’s unique food culture has been passed down from generation to generation. “Sawachi Ryouri”, where sushi, sashimi and an aray of foods are served together on large plates, has brought life to dinner parties since long before, and is very representative of Tosa local cuisine. The grandeur achieved by maximizing the beauty of fresh ingredients is said to be one of the defining aspects of Tosa cuisine. Also, as eating vegetables has become more popular among Japanese recently, Kochi vegetables are held in high regard outside of the prefecture and are gaining popularity. Even certain celebrity chefs have taken a liking to Kochi produce, featured the ingredients in cookbooks and endorsed them on media platforms. Kochi’s unique food culture is likely to spread and be passed onto future generations.

Purchasing Tosa Food at the Gairo-ichi Market!

Fresh food that you don’t normally see at the supermarket!
   We went to buy food at the “Thursday Market”, which is held every Thursday. It takes place around 270m away from the streetcar/tram stop opposite the Kochi Prefectural Office (Kencho-mae) and consists of about 77 stalls. This market is full of local customers, as opposed to tourists from outside the prefecture, and gives an impression of being deeply rooted in the local community. As well as juicy fruit and vegetables in an array of colors, the market offers a range of seasonal Tosa flavors, including seafood, side dishes such as sushi rolls, and homemade bread and mochi. It’s also fun to ask stall owners for advice about which food to choose! They kindly told us what was in season, and how to use it when cooking.
   In addition, the “Sunday Market”, has been representative of the city dweller’s kitchen for over 300 years. It spans approximately 1300m starting from the foot of Kochi Castle, has around 420 stalls, and is bustling with both locals and tourists.

Here, we will show you 4 recipes that feature Kochi’s autumn ingredients, obtained from the street market. We guarantee they all will be good!

Yuzu to Shoga no Kaorizushi (Yuzu Ginger Infused Sushi)
   Kochi prefecture is one of the top yuzu growing regions in Japan. From autumn to winter, fresh aromatic yuzu can be found at the street markets. This dish lets you enjoy sushi rice infused with yuzu and ginger aromas.
Ingredients (Serves 4)
   • 2 cups of rice
   • 1/4 piece saba (mackerel)
   • 70g ginger
   • 1/4 of the peel of one yuzu
   • 2 tbsp roasted white sesame seeds
   • Myoga and mitsuba for garnish
   • A(20ml rice vinegar, 30ml yuzu juice, 2½tbsp sugar, 2tsp salt)
1. Put washed rice into the rice cooker, add water to the line marked “sushi”, and cook.
2. Cook the saba on a grill, and flake the meat with a pair of chopsticks. Mince the ginger and yuzu peel. (It is better to remove the white part under the yuzu peel.)
3. Mix the ingredients in A. Add A to the cooked rice, and mix well in a cutting motion with a rice scoop. After mixing, add 2 and the sesame, and mix while cooling the rice with a fan. (Mix gently so as not to crush the rice.)
4. Put on a plate, and garnish with the minced myoga and mitsuba colorfully.

※ Advice: Please adjust the amount of yuzu juice to your liking, It is ok to substitute shiso (green perilla) for the yuzu peel.

Kochi Life Q&A : Earthquakes

Q: I felt shaking! How do I stay safe?
A: If you’re at home, keep your head protected by crouching under a sturdy desk. Once the shaking has stopped, after turning off the gas at the mains, turn off the electrical circuit breaker. Check the exits are clear, and cover your head with a hard object when you go outside. Watch out for falling objects or things that could collapse, and make your way to a “hinanjyo” (shelter). Carry a radio so that you can receive updates on the situation. If you’re near the coast, don’t wait for official announcements to be given, but prepare for a tsunami and evacuate to “takadai” (high ground)