Hi everyone! This is the third post in this series about local culinary specialities from Fukushima Prefecture.
This week, I’ll be writing about some dishes that might not necessarily come to mind when you think of Japanese food. That being said, for people like me who have been in Japan for a while now, it’s hard to imagine any other country where they would exist!
Only in Japan..!
Kitakata Ramen Burger (Kitakata City)
I introduced Kitakata Ramen in my blog post a couple of weeks ago. Kitakata Ramen is considered one of Japan’s top three ramen, and it’s well-known throughout the country. So I suppose it’s only natural that locals from Kitakata City have tried to invent some exciting ways to enjoy Kitakata Ramen.
This unique burger is pitched as “Kitakata Ramen that you can eat with one hand”. It says it all really.
This burger includes ramen that has been transformed into burger buns. The buns are filled with typical ramen flavours & ingredients usually included in Kitakata Ramen toppings, such as Chinese-style barbeqed pork called ‘chashew’ and the white and pink fish cake known as ‘naruto’.
The chashew pork is actually made from Hayama Kogen Ton pork, which are raised locally in Fukushima’s Hayama Highland.
Shirakawa Daruma Burger (Shirakawa City)
Shirakawa Daruma Burger is yet another very unique burger from a famous ramen-producing area!
This burger is shaped on a daruma doll, which have been produced using traditional techniques in the city for over 10 generations. These burgers aren’t just shaped like daruma because the Shirakawa City wants to promote daruma dolls. Daruma are actually a symbol of good luck, because of the symbols they are decorated on their faces. See my blog post on my experience painting a Shirakawa Daruma here for more information on what all the symbols on the faces of daruma mean.
The burger buns are made from 100% rice flour. The cheese, tomato and pork fillet fillings are infused with curry spices.
Even when enjoyed in burger form, Shirakawa City has tried to make sure that these daruma will bring you good luck through the inclusion of some ‘lucky ingredients’- tomato and cheese are supposed to improve you fortune and your luck in love, whilst pork fillet is associated in Japan with good luck. The burger has also been flavoured with curry spices, which are said to improve one’s economic luck. So all in all, this is a very lucky burger and a good investment!
To be honest, I would just buy it for the cute love-heart shape.
Iwaki Burger (Iwaki Yumoto Onsen Town)
Moving from Kitakata in the west, to Shirakawa in central Fukushima, I suppose it makes sense that there is also a cute, unique burger available to try in the eastern coastal region of the prefecture too!
This burger is often referred to as ‘Fura Ojisan Burger’. All Prefectures, and most cities, in Japan have their own special representative cartoon character. You’ve probably seen a couple of famous ones, like Kumamoto Prefectures’s character Kumamon. Fura Ojisan Burger is Iwaki’s very own character.
His name translates as ‘Hula Old Man’ and he is often seen on lots of souvenirs from Iwaki, as well as being spotted around Iwaki Yumoto Town in lots of different forms, like this drinks vending machine.
This burger has Hula Old Man’s face grilled into it, giving it a very cute expression when you open up the packaging. This burger is filled with sunny-side-up fried egg, tomato, lettuce and ingredients often included in loco moco-style food. You can buy this burger at Iwaki Yumoto’s very own convenience store.
As you might have guest, Iwaki Yumoto has a strong connection with Hawaii. Yumoto Onsen town is known throughout Japan for Spa Resorts Hawaiians – a theme park and resort based on a Hawaiian holiday getaway – the facility that managed to keep the area going in times of economic hardship. Read more about the history of Iwaki Yumoto Onsen on my blog here.
Carp Dishes (Koriyama City)
Just a warning – this next dishes is not a burger.
Koriyama City has many reservoirs, many of which are inhabited by lots of koi carp. In fact, Koriyama is Japan’s leading carp producer. This explains why such a range of ways of cooking and feasting on Koi Carp have been developed in this area over the years.
Koi can be cooked in lots of ways, including being made into tempura, or sautéed as koi-soboro. I’ve personally tried koi sushi and slow-cooked koi since coming to Japan. I’m pretty sure I’ve tried Koi no arai (slices of raw carp rinsed in cold water, served on top of rice) too. There are only a handful of areas in Fukushima (and Japan) that enjoy koi cuisine as one of their areas most traditional, celebrated local dishes.
Give it a try if you’re up for challenging yourself to eat something new and different! It definitely has a very distinctive taste to it.
Basashi (Aizu-Bange Town)
Basashi is famous in Aizu-Bange area of Aizu. Basahi is actually the word for horse sashimi, or slices of raw horse meat.
The recommended way to eat basashi is to serve with lemon and other citrus fruit, and dribble miso dressing and soy sauce over it before eating with chopsticks.
I know that many people don’t feel comfortable eating horse, but this is a celebrated dish all across Japan. It’s especially famous in Kumamoto Prefecture in Kyushu. I was a little sceptical about basashi at the start, and whilst I still wouldn’t order it every time I go to an izakaya (local pub), I’d recommend visitors to Japan to try it, to get to experience another aspect of Japanese culture!
Thanks for reading this blog post!! Soon I’ll be posting a blog article about desserts in Fukushima Prefecture, and also about omiyage (souvenirs) – so stay tuned!
But first of all, I’ll be writing about my recent trip on the Samurai Train from Asakusa to Aizu which was awesome!!
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