Does Fukushima sound familiar to you? It wouldn’t be surprising if it does — the prefecture’s name was plastered on news headlines around the world when a tsunami triggered a devastating nuclear accident there in 2011. The disaster caused considerable damage, but Fukushima is now safe to travel to today and boasts a list of things to do and eat that will tempt any traveller who is considering adding the prefecture to their itinerary. From beautiful hikes to relaxing onsens to the national historic cultural properties, the area offers more than enough to keep you busy. And, to get you energized enough to take on the day, make sure to indulge in their delicious local dishes! To give you a preview of what you can expect, I’ve put together a list below of 5 foods to eat in Fukushima prefecture.
First in the roundup is a dish that is known and loved by many, but given a special twist in this area: ramen. Kitakata ramen, named after the ramen capital city of Kitakata, is different from what you are likely to find at other shops throughout Japan. Its noodles, known as “Hirauchi Jukusei Takasuimen”, are what make it special. Believed to have Chinese influence, they are characterized as wide, flat, and curly with a uniquely firm texture when chewed. As for the soy sauce based broth they are served in, that can vary depending on the vendor you visit, so if you search well enough, you’ll likely find a flavor of this ramen that meets your individual tastes!
Kozuyu is a traditional dish of the Aizu region in Fukushima. It is a soup typically served for special occasions with a delicious taste that justifies its place in celebration. While it is filled with konnyaku jelly noodles and numerous vegetables, the main ingredient of the broth is dried scallops. If you make it to the Aizu area, definitely take the time to try this highly reviewed local dish.
Pickled Herring with Sansho (Nishin no Sansho-Zuke)
Another Aizu region speciality is pickled herring with sansho. In preparation, the fish is layered with sansho peppers and pickled in a mixture of sake, sugar, soy sauce and vinegar which gives it both a strong smell and taste. As a common menu item in Fukushima izakayas, it is often enjoyed as a side dish to the area’s famous, award winning sake. So, kill two birds with one stone and step out of your comfort zone to try this delicious pairing.
Depending on your preference, or the region you’re in, gyoza may be prepared and cooked slightly differently. In Fukushima, while the ingredients and sauce will vary from restaurant to restaurant, you can reliably expect the dish to always be served in disc form. As you can tell from the photo, a collection of gyoza are put into a specific formation in a pan and fried until the bottoms are crispy, joining all the pieces together. Honestly, my mouth is watering from just thinking about it!
Seasonal Fruit Picking
With the nickname “Fruit Kingdom”, it would be a disservice to not include fruit when listing the top foods to try while in Fukushima. Depending on the season, you can indulge in peaches, grapes, pears, cherries or apples among others — and on Prefectural Route 5, known as the “Fruit Line”, you can even pick the fruit yourself! Make sure to do some quick research about the season you’ll be visiting though so you know what to expect before you get there.
Whether you are at or away from the table, there is beauty and history throughout Fukushima that is worth exploring — so go do it!
Featured photo by Shino on Unsplash
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