Kiritanpo is a local cuisine of Akita Prefecture. Freshly cooked rice is pounded then wrapped around skewers to form a cylindrical shape, and then grilled. Kiritanpo-nabe, where kirtanpo is put in a hotpot, and misotanpo, where sweet miso paste is spread over the rice, are both famous dishes.
Kiritanpo is said to have originated in the Odate region in northern Akita Prefecture, where Akita cedar trees were cut down, and when the people were secluded, they would put leftover rice into a chicken hotpot, or put miso paste on it and eat it.
Said to be one of the three most famous types of udon in Japan (the other two being sanuki udon and kishimen), inaniwa udon has a history of more than 300 years.
Created by Ichibe Sato, who lived in the same area, it was improved by Kichizaemon Inaniwa in mid-Edo era, which further added to its popularity. Since the Meiji era, it has been presented to the Ministry of the Imperial Household, and won numerous awards in regional food exhibitions.
You can eat delicious inaniwa udon at restaurants throughout Yuzawa city (Inagawa) and Akita city. It even featured in the gourmet food manga “Oishinbo” (“The Gourmet”).
With a history of more than 60 years, Yokote yakisoba is nowadays proudly known throughout Japan. Yokote yakisoba has a springy and slippery-like texture of the boiled noodles in an original sauce, with the standard style being cooked with cabbage, minced pork, a softly-fried egg and pickled vegetables.
A light soup base, a characteristic of Japanese ramen, made from dried sardines and bonito stock to bring out the Japanese flavour of high-quality soy sauce created from fine-quality Akita soya beans and wheat.
Delicious and inexpensive Akita food, “Akita kayaki” is centred around Akita city. “Kayaki” is a hotpot with the shellfish eaten on its shell. It is said that “kayaki” slowly derived from the word “kaiyaki” (“grilled shellfish”) in the local dialect.
Full of mountain vegetables such as wild plants and mushrooms, together with natto grated until its thick and sticky, with tailored miso, this is traditional home cooking of Omagari region. Each household has an inherited way of cooking it. It can be enjoyed at restaurants in the city as well.
Pressed ham coated in wheat flour, egg and bread crumbs, and deep-fried. Honjo ham fry was eaten as a snack in then-Honjo city in the 1950s and 1960s. Nowadays, it can be bought at butchers and supermarkets and eaten at restaurants in Yurihonjo City, bringing back the memories of old.
A specialty noodles kneaded with brown seaweed and kelp soup. The sauce base is that of Shottsuru (one of Japan’s three major fish sauces), with either salt flavour or soy sauce flavour. No meat is used in this dish, with each restaurant having its own original ingredients and recipe.
Much loved as a local dish from long ago, “himokawa udon” is unique for its noodles, which are wider and thinner than normal udon. The noodles make for a smooth mouthful. Some stores offer noodles up to 10cm wide – quite a sight to see!
Do you know the fish called hatahata (Japanese sandfish)?
The Japanese characters for hatahata consist of 魚 (fish) and 神 (god). As hatahata gather along the coast during the winter thunderstorms at night, they are also known as “kaminari-uo”, meaning “thunder fish”. The fish is extremely popular with the people of Akita Prefecture, and as such, a ban was enforced several decades ago on catching the fish due to overfishing. However, with fruitful efforts, hatahata are slowly coming back to the dinner table.
Hatahata can be enjoyed in a hotpot, grilled, or even as sushi, and especially hatahata roe, known as “buriko” are most delicious with the popping of them in your mouth.