Located in Honshu, Japan’s northernmost island, Aomori is a prefecture abundant in culture which makes it a perfect tourist destination. Aomori is also rich in various different cultural cuisines, delivering delicacies to satisfy any tourists’ palate.
Aomori is known for its various soup dishes, with one of the most famous being Ichigoni. Ichigoni, which literally translates as “strawberry soup”, is typically made with sea urchin and abalone. You may be wondering where the name came from, as the dish contains no strawberries. It’s said that the name originates from the resemblance of a sea urchin ovary to a strawberry.
If you want to taste this soup, then you will likely find yourself at Hachinohe City, as it is a local dish from this area. Although, word of this soup has reached the entire country and abroad, now making it a popular dish representing the entirety of Aomori Prefecture.
Another soup dish from Hachinohe City, in the Nanbu region of Aomori Prefecture, is senbei-jiru. This dish is made with Nanbu senbei, a local cracker made from wheat, added to fish, meat, mushrooms, and vegetables. Although it can vary from household to household, senbei-jiru is typically made using mackerel and chicken as the main two ingredients.
Around the end of the Edo period, the Nanbu region began to shift to a food culture centered around wheat and buckwheat. The Nanbu senbei was created around this time as well, and it is said that senbei-jiru was created after people began to add these crackers into their soups and broths. If you ever find yourself in Hachinohe City, then you can make your way down to one of the hundreds of restaurants serving this delicious dish and try it for yourself.
Kayaki Miso / Miso Kayaki (貝焼き味噌/味噌貝焼き)
This is a favorite dish in both the Tsugaru and Shimokita regions of Aomori. Typically it is known as “Kayaki Miso” in the the Tsugaru region, whereas in the Shimokita region it is commonly referred to as “Miso Kayaki.” This dish is prepared on a large scallop shell in lieu of a pan, used to grill scallops, miso stock, and a lightly beaten egg.
It’s said that being cooked in a scallop shell brings out the flavors of the dish, making it a simple household favorite in the Tsugaru and Shimokita regions.
Miso Curry Milk Ramen （青森味噌カレー牛乳ラーメン）
Miso curry milk ramen is a unique delicacy that most people outside of Japan have never tried, or even heard of before. Made with a miso soup base seasoned with curry powder and milk, topped with a cube of butter, the creamy flavor of the dairy works perfectly with the slightly spicy kick of the curry.
This ramen originates back to 1968 when Kiyoshi Sato, the creator of a popular ramen chain in Aomori, made this creative flavor of ramen after coming to Aomori to spread the reach of Hokkaido style ramen. It became popular amongst the younger generation, going through a few changes before eventually reaching its final form as the miso curry milk ramen we see today.
Igamenchi is a famous dish from Hirosaki City. “Iga” is the way the locals pronounce the Japanese word for squid, “ika.” As the name suggests, this dish contains squid combined with vegetables, which is then battered and deep-fried.
It is said that in the past, locals would use dried squid in their fermented sushi dishes. Not wanting to let anything go to waste they utilized the leftover squid tentacles, supposedly creating the current igamenchi that is eaten by many.
With its rich culture and unique local cuisines, Aomori is a must visit destination for those wanting to try delicacies right where they were created. Once you’ve traveled to Aomori, you’ll surely be hooked on the dishes and find yourself booking another trip back to have another taste!
Feature Photo by Ryunosuke Tomizawa on Unsplash
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