The Yomiuri ShimbunAOMORI — Nakadomari, Aomori Prefecture, boasts the largest volume of mebaru rockfish landings in the prefecture. Hoping to raise the profile of the town, local high school students thought of making a mebaru-shaped confection called Mebayaki.
Modeled after taiyaki, a sea bream-shaped pancake filled with anko bean paste, mebayaki went on sale in August alongside a set meal that was created two years ago. The meal features the local specialty fish served as sashimi and in a simmered dish.
In addition to the typical taiyaki sweet bean paste filling, mebayaki with blueberry or tomato flavored anko fillings are also available. The light and refreshing blueberry and tomato flavors go surprisingly well with sweet bean paste.
The idea for mebayaki was devised by 10 students from Nakasato High School in the town. They are members of a group in the prefectural high school that promotes local specialties to revitalize the regional economy.
In cooperation with a local body promoting the mebaru set meal, the students finally arrived at the current version of mebayaki after a process of trial and error. They even tried mixing sliced squid with bean paste to alter the texture.
The students also were involved in the production of a special baking machine to make mebayaki. They drew a design for the mold so that the fish’s distinctive features — protruding eyes and mouth — appear on the surface of the pancake.
Their design was sent to Takahama, Aichi Prefecture, which is famous for Sanshu tiles. In cooperation with a group from Takahama High School that promotes local tile production, a sample for the baking mold was made, and the Nakadomari students asked a Takahama company to produce the machine.
Manaka Kogawa, a second-year student of Nakasato High School who leads the group, said, “We made mebayaki, hoping it would contribute to raising the profile of our town.”