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Nagasaki Tour Vol. 3

Introduce Nagasaki as Nagasaki Tour Vol. 3.
This time taking up "Nagasaki Food Culture".
Nagasaki boasts a unique cuisine that benefits from Chinese, Dutch, and Portuguese influences, in a sense, as a result of the Policy of Isolation in Edo Era.

Castella (Sponge Cake) - This ever-changing Nagasaki confection remains immensely popular

Castella is a type of sponge cake introduced to Japan by Portuguese missionaries in the mid-16th century. It is believed to have been developed in Spain and Portugal. The first castella recipe that came to Japan called for mixing equal parts of three ingredients - flour, sugar and eggs - and cooking the mixture in a covered steam cooking pot (either rectangular or round) with fire both above and below. Beginning in the early Edo period, the recipe gradually evolved with the addition of starch syrup as sweetener and other ingredients.

Chanpon - Hearty chanpon noodles that embody the culture of Nagasaki 

Nagasaki chanpon was created when Chin Heijun, a Chinese restaurant owner in Shikairo, suggested a cheap and nutritious dish for visiting Chinese students who lived frugally at the time. The first version was just a simple combination of pork and bamboo shoots, but eventually it came to include locally abundant ingredients and seafood such as squid, oysters, and shrimp harvested from Nagasaki's coastal waters.

Shippoku - The ultimate Nagasaki cuisine blending the best from Japan, China, and the West

Shippoku cuisine is an original creation of the Chinese living in the Chinese quarter. While it was intended to entertain Japanese and Western visitors, it spread to common households and evolved into a feast that is presented in traditional Japanese restaurants even today. The primary characteristic of Shippoku cuisine is jikabashi, the seating of the diners around a lacquered round table on which the food is served in one dish, with all diners serving themselves. This creates an atmosphere of omoyai (sharing) and contributes to a harmonious atmosphere.

Chinese Sweets - Familiar treats from China

It is believed that Chinese sweets were introduced to Japan by the Chinese during the Edo period, although they were first produced only for Chinese nationals. Today, more than a dozen types of products are customarily made, the most well known being the gold money cake, yoriyori, and moon cake. The yoriyori is also known as mafa (hemp flower), which was handed down from the Peking region in ancient times.

The Loquat - The taste of early summer from Nagasaki

The original loquat (biwa) was a wild variety of fruit in Japan, but it is believed that the origin of the mogi loquat was a fruit brought from China on a Chinese ship between 1830 and 1840. A woman by the name of Miura Shio brought back the seeds for this Chinese loquat, and when she planted it in her brother's field in the village of Mogi, it thrived and bore sweet fruit. This was the first generation of the mogi loquat. Plant husbandry was later improved through grafting, and today the loquat, as the taste of early summer in Nagasaki, is a specialty in which the entire country takes pride.

Kamaboko - The flavor essential to the Nagasaki table

The basic ingredients of kamaboko are fresh local fish such as lizardfish, horse mackerel, and sardines. The fish meat is minced, salted, and combined with seasonings. This mixture is well kneaded, shaped, and heated, but the type is determined by the heating method, whether steamed, grilled, deep-fried, or boiled. Steamed kamaboko is typically available in slab form and the grilled form is a type of fish sausage known as chikuwa, while date maki uses an abundance of eggs for the unique flavor of Nagasaki. Hanpen, an essential ingredient for chanpon noodle dishes and udon dishes, is boiled, while deep-fried kamaboko - which uses fresh-caught fish such as horse mackerel and sardines mashed along with the small bones and deep-fried - is also a popular product.

By T.S. on Aug 15, 2009


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Author:T. SATOH