Jul 1, 2014

Nicely done, Nagasaki!

Shippoku: A Fusion Feast

Cultures meet and meld together best in food. In Nagasaki, there is no stronger evidence of this than the Shippoku Ryori.


The Shippoku feast typically takes place on a red round table. This is perhaps the first and most obvious sign of Chinese influence in Nagasaki cuisine. Long before Japan instituted its isolationist policy, Chinese merchants were already doing trade in Nagasaki. With them, they brought their practice of taking their meals at a round table to symbolise completeness. Where there used to be a red table cloth, the Japanese have transformed into a red lacquer table.

The dishes one sees at a Shippoku feast are an amalgation of Japanese, Chinese and Dutch influences. The baked chicken roll with walnut resembles pate while the stewed pork belly is a deadringer for Chinese dongpo meat. And, the place to go for a Shippoku feast is Fukiro, a 358-year-old establisment.

Ohire opens the feast. It is a bowl of soup with mochi, snapper and seasonal vegetables. The hostess will invite you to drink this soup and you’re not allowed to start on the rest of the food or be served beer until you finish the Ohire.

Once the Ohire is done, it’s time to tuck into the rest of the feast. You’ll find a variety of flavours and textures that’ll tease and tantalise your tastebuds. Besides the stewed pork belly and baked chicken roll, there are deep-fried snapper heads, shrimp paste sandwiches, and many more.

Rice, soup and pickles are served after the main dishes, with the end of the meal marked with a bowl of delicately flavoured umewan – a sweet red bean drink with a salted cherry blossom.

Another name for Shippoku is Omoyai cuisine (meaning “share”). This is because the dishes are served up at once and in a communal fashion. The atmosphere at a Shippoku feast is convival and joyous, which explains why many newlyweds in Nagasaki often opt to celebrate their special day at Fukiro.


>>Read more about Nagasaki Food

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