I have been told by friends living in Japan that I simply had to try the food from Okinawa . It is meant to be really rather different to the food of mainland Japan due to differences in culture and their historical contact between other regions, climate and vegetables.
Okinawa is the most Southern prefecture in Japan comprising of 100s of Ryukyu islands, but unusually it was run by the Americans from 1945, for 27 years after World War 2, with some historical Chinese and Thai influences too due to their ancient trading relations. Okinawan cooks have in the past travelled to Chinese provinces as well as throughout Japan to learn their trade, hence why the cuisine is such a medley of different Asian flavours and cooking techniques.
Their dialect is pretty much incomprehensible to the Japanese mainlanders…and the calligraphy reminds me of Chinese writing….
The cuisine of Okinawa is becoming very popular in Japan – especially since the people of Okinawa live the longest in Japan! Let’s see what the fuss is about – we headed to Miyarabi in Ikebukuro, Tokyo.
We first started with an umi budou ( or sea grape salad)…something I had never seen before.
This had a very weird mouthfeel – like tiny bubbles that pop in your mouth. They were garnished with kombu dashi and some soy sauce, without which, it would have had little flavour.
A salad with Okinawa homemade tofu and cream cheese cubes (yes, really!)
This is definitely a dish that I want to try back at home… Stir-fried bitter gourd with tofu and egg. So moorish – the flavours were more Chinese than Japanese, hence why it was so comforting to me!
Finally, we rounded off the dinner with some sweet potato and brown sugar ice cream…
….ahem… with a giant sweet potato deep-fried doughnut with cream…Pure gluttony.
The desserts aside, I can now understand why the people of Okinawa live the longest out of all the Japanese – their cuisine is light, using lots of fresh, local ingredients, with very little use of oil. Definitely a cuisine to try this summer!
- Okinawa and the U.S. military, post 1945 (warhistoryonline.com)