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A Taste of Ishikawa from Your Own Kitchen Recipes for Japanese Prefecture’s top dishes revealed

April 30, 2020 Dining No Comments
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Located on the central coast of Japan’s Honshu Island, Ishikawa Prefecture benefits from the combination and availability of top quality produce native to both the East and West of the country. Add to this its proximity to the sea and the enduring fishing culture that spans centuries and the result is fresh traditional Japanese fare with a hotbed of flavour.

Culinary experiences are a highlight of any trip to Ishikawa – from Michelin-starred ryokans to 300-year old food markets. So, until we’re again able to travel to Japan, here’s three of Ishikawa’s signature dishes, especially adapted to be recreated at home:

1. Jibuni

What is it? A traditional dish born in the Edo Period which is a staple on the table at any celebration in Ishikawa. A wan (bowl) of meat (usually duck or chicken) is coated with katakuriko (starch) and herbs, such as seri (Japanese Parsley) simmered in dashi (a fish stock base) and topped with wasabi as a condiment. Katakuriko is an essential ingredient that coats and keeps the flavour of meat whilst moderately thickening the soup, with flour as an alternative to recreate the dish at home.

Pictured: Jibuni. Image Credit: Kanazawa City.

Recipe: (serves 4)
2 pieces chicken/duck thigh (boneless)
1 block grilled tofu
4 shiitake mushrooms
Handful snow peas
½ carrot
460g dashi (a Japanese stock, available in Asian supermarkets, if powdered or granules, add boiling water, 460ml)
150ml mirin
2 tbsp sugar
90ml soy sauce
30g plain flour

  • Slice meat into 8 slices, chop tofu into 8 small cubes. Cut carrot into 1cm rounds.
  • Parboil the carrot, snow peas.
  • Combine the dashi, mirin, sugar and soy sauce in a pan and place over medium heat until it begins to boil.
  • Cover the meat slices in flour and add to the pan.
  • Once the colour of the meat changes, add the tofu, mushrooms and carrot, simmering for 6 minutes over a medium-high heat.
  • Lightly coat the snow peas with the soup and serve.

Serving suggestion: garnish with wasabi.

Where to taste it in Ishikawa: Hacchouya has four branches in Ishikawa Prefecture, including one located a two minute walk from Kanazawa train Station. Here you sample Jibuni with duck for 980 yen + tax (around $15 AUD). Alternatively, Kuroyuri (within Kanazawa Station) is a popular oden restaurant that serves Jibuni. Kanazawa is said to have the largest number of oden restaurants in Japan which specialise in one-pot dishes, a typically authentic local winter taste and one which is recommended for those visiting pre/post ski.

2. Kanazawa Curry

What is it? The Kanazawa Curry is famed across Ishikawa, as well as wider Japan. Distinctive for it’s thick, brown sauce with a sweetness delivered from using caramel within the roux, this rich curry is thick enough to eat with a fork. The curry roux is a very close-guarded recipe, however, you can achieve a close resemblance with this recipe at home, similar to a darker and sweeter version of a Katsu.

The curry is served atop rice with tonkatsu (fried pork cutlet) and thin-sliced cabbage, traditionally in a stainless steel dish.

Recipe: (serves 4)
For the stock:
2.5 litres beef stock
50g dried shiitake or porcini mushrooms
1 stalk lemongrass
5cm piece ginger
1 cinnamon stick
5 cardamon pods
2 whole cloves

For the curry:
6 tablespoons unsalted butter
170g plain flour
50ml olive or vegetable oil
500g button mushrooms, quartered
1 medium onion, chopped
50ml sake
5 tablespoons curry powder
1 tablespoon garam masala
1 potato, cut into 2.5cm pieces
1 Fuji apple, peeled and grated
1 tablespoon dark brown sugar
1 tablespoon rice wine vinegar
Salt and pepper to season

For the tonkatsu:
4 pork chops, boneless with excess fat trimmed
340g plain flour
3 large eggs, beaten
800g panko breadcrumbs
30ml olive or vegetable oil
100g cabbage, shredded
4 servings steamed rice

  • Prepare the stock by simmering the stock, mushrooms, lemongrass, ginger, cinnamon, garlic, cardamom and cloves in a large saucepan, uncovered and stirring occasionally, over medium heat until slightly reduced and very fragrant, 30–40 minutes. Strain through a fine-mesh sieve into a large bowl or measuring cup; discard solids.
  • To make the curry paste, melt butter in a small frying pan over medium-high heat. Add flour, stirring constantly, until roux is a dark caramel colour and smells nutty, 4 minutes; set aside.
  • In a larger saucepan, heat oil over a high heat. Add mushrooms and cook undisturbed, until browned underneath, about 2 minutes. Toss and continue to cook, undisturbed, until browned on second side. Continue to cook, tossing occasionally, until browned on all sides and tender, season with salt and pepper. Transfer mushrooms to a medium bowl, leaving oil in pot.
  • Reduce heat to medium. Cook onion and carrots, tossing occasionally, until tender, 8–10 minutes. Pour in sake and cook, scraping up brown bits on bottom of pan, until liquid is evaporated, 2–3 minutes. Sprinkle curry powder and garam masala over and cook, stirring frequently, until very fragrant, about 1 minute. Add potato, apple, mushrooms, along with the reserved stock and bring to a boil. Whisk in the curry roux until mixture thickens. Reduce heat, bring to a simmer, and continue to cook, uncovered and stirring occasionally, until mixture is very thick, 25–30 minutes. Stir in brown sugar and vinegar; season with salt.
  • Pound the pork chops between 2 layers of cling film until 0.5cm thick. Place flour in a shallow bowl. Place eggs in another shallow bowl. Place panko in a third shallow bowl with salt and pepper.
  • One at a time, dip the pork cutlets in the flour, shaking off excess. Transfer to bowl with egg and turn to coat. Lift from bowl, letting excess drip off. Coat in the panko mix, pressing to fully cover in the crumbs.
  • Heat 3 tablespoons oil in a large frying pan over medium-high heat. Cook 2 cutlets at a time until coating is deep golden brown and pork is just cooked through, about 4 minutes per side. Transfer to a plate. Wipe pan and repeat with remaining oil and 2 cutlets.
  • Serve on a plate or shallow bowl with cutlet sliced and positioned on top of the rice, which should be entirely covered by the curry. Serve with shredded cabbage on the side.

Where to taste it in Ishikawa: A local recommendation is Turban Curry – two branches can be found in the dishes’ namesake city of Kanazawa. Located centrally and easy to visit from Kenrokuen Garden and 21st Century Museum on foot after a day of soaking in the sights and culture.

3. Kaburi Sushi

What is it? Kabura-zushi is a specialty of Kanazawa and a popular sushi option in the winter months, widely eaten at New Year. Yellowtail fillets (buni) and salted kabu (turnip) are encased in pickled rice. This dish is best prepared over 3-4 days to allow for the full flavour from pickling.

Pictured: Kaburi Sushi. Image Credit: Kanazawa City.

(serves 4)
8 slices yellowtail sashimi (try your local fish market)
1 dashi stock (granules and powder for instant dashi broth available at well-stocked grocery stores)
1 teaspoon coarse salt
2 turnips
400ml amazake (low-alcohol rice drink available at Asian supermarkets)
½ carrot
1 teaspoon lemon peel

  • Peel turnips, cut into halves lengthwise, then again into quarters, also creating a slit big enough for a sashimi piece to go into. Cut stems into 2cm in length and set aside.
  • Finely slice the carrot.
  • Sprinkle half a teaspoon of salt over turnips, the stems and finely sliced carrot, keep in a container and leave in the fridge overnight. Repeat with the sashimi fish.
  • Drain the salted turnips. Wipe excess water from the fish with paper towel. Mix dashi stock with amazake.
  • Dip the fish into the amazake mixture, and insert into the slit that you created in the turnips. In a clean container, place turnips, carrots and stems, pour the amazake mixture, tightly close the lid and leave for 2 to 3 days in the fridge. Drain the water once a day.
  • Place the Kaburi Sushi on a plate to serve, garnish with finely grated lemon peel.

Where to taste it in Ishikawa: Shijimaya Honpo has several shops in Kanazawa City which sells Kaburi Sushi to takeaway.

For those seeking a hands-on class with the experts, Shijimaya Honpo offers a Kaburi Sushi making experience in the winter months November – March (except December).

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