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This and That, Ishikawa's Flavors

 

This is an introduction of the abundance of unique flavors Ishikawa Prefecture is proud to offer.

 Kaga Yasai

Kaga yasai is label given to vegetables that were first grown before 1887 (20th Year of the Meiji Era), and continue to be produced mainly in Kanazawa. Today, there are fifteen vegetables officially recognized as “Kaga Yasai.”

Kaga Yasai

  • Kaga Renkon (Lotus Root)
    Has a high starch content, characterized by its pronounced stickiness and chewy texture.
  • Gensuke Daikon (Japanese Radish)
    Tender, yet holds up to boiling, and so is often used in boiled dishes.
  • Satsuma Imo (Sweet Potato)
    Centers on the brand “Gorojima Kintoki,” a name well known throughout Japan. Perfect for roasting, due to its concentrated sweetness.
  • Kanazawa Ippon Futo-negi (Scallion)
    Sweet and soft, delicious boiled or even raw. Cooks well in sukiyaki, hot-pots, grilled skewers, and other dishes.
  • Seri (Japanese Parsley)
    Thin stemmed with a wonderful fragrance. Characterized by its lack of harsh aftertaste and softness.
  • Futatsuka Karashi-na
    Characterized by its spiciness and sinus clearing wasabi-like flavor, a must-have vegetable throughout winter into early spring.
  • Kuwai
    An ingredient in celebratory dishes, derived from the auspiciousness of its sprouting. It has a unique, slightly bitter flavor.
  • Takenoko (Bamboo Shoots)
    Soft, with a wonderful fragrance and strong flavor, and with no overtly bitter taste. It has a large shape and sweetness.
  • Kaga Futo Kyuri (Fat Cucumber)
    About 5 times the thickness of normal cucumbers, and within its juiciness is sweetness.
  • Kanazawa Shungiku (Garland Chrysanthemum)
    Possesses a unique fragrance and softness, with its fleshy leaves being filling. Very tasty as a dressed vegetable or in hot pots.
  • Kinjiso
    Has a uniquely viscous flavor, and bright color. Often served marinated in vinegared or as tempura.
  • Utsugi Akagawa Amaguri Kabocha (Squash Varietal)
    The fruit is beautiful with its vivid color, and meaty flesh, along with a moist texture and concentrated sweetness.
  • Heta Murasaki Nasu (Eggplant)
    Named from the calyx’s purple coloring. It has thin skin with soft meat and sweetness.
  • Kaga Tsurumame (Green Beans)
    With a bright yellowish-green color, rich aroma and lovely texture. These beans often appear in hot pots and can be eaten shell and all.
  • Aka Zuiki
    Fibrous and healthy, and can be prepared by boiling then marinating in vinegar. When added to vinegar the color turns a bright red.

In addition to Kaga Yasai, of produce that have acclimatized to the Noto, thirteen with superior distinction and quality have been designated as Noto Yasai.

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 Kano-gani

Snow crabs that are caught in the waters off Ishikawa Prefecture are called “kano-gani.” These freshly caught Kano-gani are a symbolic flavor of Ishikawa’s winter season, and are favored for their tender, tightly packed meat with refined sweetness. To certify these snow crabs are local product, they bear a light blue tag.

Kano-gani

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 Noto-gaki

Alongside crab, another flavor that epitomizes winter is the oyster. In particular, “Noto-gaki” grown in the natural surroundings of the Noto Peninsula are thin shelled, with thick meat and a rich aroma. Every year during oyster season, the Noto’s two main production areas, Anamizu and Nanao City’s Nakajima-machi, hold large oyster festivals.

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 Ama-ebi

As its Japanese name implies, this “sweet” shrimp’s flavor is characterized by a delicate sweetness. Served whole in the Hokuriku region, ama-ebi are also prepared in restaurants as sashimi, or sushi. Usually, they are eaten raw to savor their sweet juicy texture. Ama-ebi are in season from late autumn through winter.

Ama-ebi

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 Ishiru

Deep in the Noto, passed down through the ages is a seasoning that consists mostly of seafood. Sometimes called gyo-sho, or fish sauce. Rich in flavor, it is loaded with vitamins and minerals.

Ishiru

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 Ebisu (also called Bero-bero)

A local dish of Kanazawa, often served during festivals or New Year’s Osechi cuisine. The name comes from this food’s tortoiseshell-like appearance. Made of ginger flavored dashi mixed with agar and beaten egg, it is then poured into a form and hardened.

Ebisu (also called Bero-bero)

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 Sasa-zushi

A type of “pressed sushi” where sushi rice is topped with fish, wrapped in two sasa leaves, then pressed in a box. In Ishikawa Prefecture, it is a must-have dish during festivals. Toppings can range from fish such as salmon, trout, dolphinfish, and sea bream, to pink shrimp, sesame, and seaweed.

Sasa-zushi

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 Hanton Rice

This is a western style dish well known in the Kanazawa area. Seasoned rice is covered with a thin runny omelet, and deep-fried white meat fish, then topped with tartar sauce and ketchup.

Hanton Rice

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 Kurumi no Tsukudani

In Kanazawa, for generations this food has been used during celebrations or for gifts. Walnuts that have been boiled in rice candy to an exquisite faint sweetness in the tsukudani cooking method.

Kurumi no Tsukudani

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 Fugu no Ranso no Nukazuke

A local specialty of Ishikawa’s Hakusan City region, and Kanazawa’s Kanaiwa and Ono areas. The pufferfish’s liver and egg sacks contain a large amount of poison, however curing them in salt water for one year, and then rice bran for two to three years causes the poisons to decompose to levels low enough to be consumed safely. Over time, these pufferfish egg sacks cured in rice bran have become a sought after delicacy. Pufferfish cured in rice bran and sake lees use the egg sacks of the poisonous spotback puffer, which is only licensed to be produced and sold in Ishikawa Prefecture.

Fugu no Ranso no Nukazuke

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 Wagashi

In reference to the traditional Japanese methods for making sweets, Ishikawa’s wagashi culture has continued since the Edo period. Known as one of the three famous areas for confections in Japan, there are many well-established confectionary shops. Traditional Japanese confections are divided into three classifications: higashi with little water content, namagashi with high water content, and having a moderate water content is han-namagashi. Furthermore, Japanese confections require an artistic dimension, which has lead to some small confections taking the form of elements in nature.

Wagashi

Ishikawa Prefecture’s Local Confections

  • Kinkato
    A good luck confection displayed during New Year’s or the Girl’s Festival, and comes in shapes such as sea bream, hina-daruma doll, beckoning cat, or bamboo shoots.
  • Fuku-ume
    A wafer sandwich (monaka) based on the crest of the Kaga Clan’s Maeda Family, in red and white. They always make an appearance during New Year’s in Ishikawa, and are served to honor guest or sent as gifts.
  • Tsujiura
    Enclosed within a pentagonal or triangular dough wrapper, is a small fortune. Games can be played by tying the words of the fortunes together.
  • Himuro Manju
    July 1st was the day the Kaga Clan presented stored ice from its icehouse to the shogunate. It is customary on this day to eat Himuro Manju as it is believed to promote health.
  • Doyo Mochi
    From the beginning of July through the “dog days of summer,” it is customary to eat rice cakes covered in bean paste. Eating sweets made from rice cakes is thought of as a way to overcome the summer heat.
  • Daizu-ame
    Mizuame (malt syrup) and soy powder are kneaded together to form this soft, suhama-like candy. It is said that Toshiie Maeda ate daizu-ame.
  • Goshiki-namagashi
    A required confection for wedding ceremonies, each is a representation of nature: the sun, moon, sea, mountains, and countryside. It is said that this confection was made for Tamahime when she married into the Maeda Family.
  • Maru-yubeshi
    For this Japanese confection, the yuzu’s (citron) center is hollowed out, stuffed with rice-cake, steamed, and then continuously dried. It is sliced thin and served with ochazuke, by itself as a snack, or made into soup.