Aomori touts local cuisine

The Yomiuri Shimbun

A meal featuring wild-caught flounder from Higashidori, Aomori Prefecture

The Yomiuri ShimbunAOMORI — Aomori Prefecture is experiencing a gourmet boom as locals continue to launch a slew of specialty dishes using regional ingredients.

Recently, wild-caught flounder, a specialty of the village of Higashidori, has been featured in a new set meal which is available at three restaurants in the village.

The town of Nakadomari, which enjoys the largest rockfish catch in the prefecture, has created microwavable retort pouches of a simmered dish based on a popular local specialty which includes the fish.

Higashidori flounder

The creation of the flounder set meal was supervised by Hiro Nakata, an executive producer at the Recruit Lifestyle Co. Jalan Research Center.

Restaurants and other villagers spent a year developing the meal, which comprises 12 items ranging from soup to dessert. The highlights of the meal are five types of flounder sashimi, each prepared and seasoned differently, and three rice dishes.

The meal also incorporates other specialties from the village, including local beef and blueberries.

“With the flounder set meal, we want people to learn all about the many kinds of delicious foods the village has to offer,” Naoki Minamikawa, who heads a Higashidori association to promote flounder cooking, said at an event when the meal was debuted.

Representatives of the four other municipalities in the prefecture that have already created local specialty dishes were given an opportunity to taste the meal.

“I was surprised flounder could be served in so many different ways,” one said.

The set meals are available for ¥1,600 including tax at three restaurants in the village — Log Restaurant Minamikawa, Restaurant Mura and Shoraku.

For more information, contact the flounder cooking association in the village’s management and planning department on (0175) 27-2111.

Nakadomari rockfish

The idea to manufacture retort pouches containing a whole simmered mebaru rockfish was first raised in July 2016, one year after the launch of a set meal featuring the fish, which is one of the prefecture’s local specialties. Members of a Nakadomari association to promote rockfish cuisine wanted to build on the momentum of the rockfish set meal and make something that could be enjoyed without much effort to cook. They eventually decided to develop a rockfish retort pouch named “Mebachin” that only needed to be heated up in a microwave.

Different recipes were tested to try to create a flavor close to what people were served in restaurants. The final product was completed in March.

The soy sauce-based dish has a sweet and spicy flavor. Its rich flavor makes it perfect for takikomi gohan, rice that is seasoned and cooked with various ingredients.

“It can be prepared at home easily or given to friends or family as gifts,” said Norio Suzuki, secretary general of the association and also assistant chief of the Nakadomari marine, commerce and tourism section.

Each pack costs ¥980 including tax. The packs are sold at seven locations in the town, including local specialties store Pure, Restaurant Tatsudomari at the Kodomari Michi no Eki roadside rest area and other restaurants.

For more information, contact the rockfish cooking association at (0173) 57-2111.

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