Oct 1, 2018
Many ingredients used in Akita’s cuisine are sourced from the prefecture’s mountains and lush, fertile lands.
A stay in any one of Nyuto Onsen Village’s ryokan will pamper you with scrumptious local delights. At Tsurunoyu Onsen, you’ll get to enjoy one of the mountain region’s culinary treasures—Yamanoimonabe (mountain potato soup). In this dish, you’ll relish a comprehensive variety of Akita’s produce.
Its main ingredient is Yamanoimo, a mountain “potato” (it actually belongs to the yam family!) that’s larger, darker and coarser-skinned than your average household variety. Many chefs in Akita make use of this ingredient to make the special potato balls stewed in Yamanoimonabe. We speak to one of them from Tsurunoyu:“After removing its skin, we slice and then mash the Yamanoimo. We don’t use regular or sweet potatoes because their starch breaks apart when boiled and this doesn’t give the balls a firm structure. The potato balls are then kept in the fridge overnight to maintain their shape. Next, we add them in boiling water without adding extra seasoning. They have a fresh taste and chewy texture,” he shares.
The soup is stewed with other fresh produce from the region: shimeji and enoki mushrooms. At Tsurunoyu’s dining rooms, you’ll also get to enjoy Iwana fish cultivated from Sendatsu River. Sendatsu’s clean and clear waters are said to give the fish a mild, pleasant taste without any strong, fishy odours. Joining this medley of flavours is a healthy portion of sliced burdock root and fresh mitsuba (a type of wild Japanese parsley).
For a taste of carb heaven, look no further than Japan’s famed rice variety, the Akitatomachi. Fluffy and mildly sweet, this short-grained rice is a premium selection that’s usually harvested from end-September. We’re told that November yields the best harvest, so to taste the freshest batch, visit the region in the following months. The region’s famed rice is also used to make Kiritanpo, a hollow, cylindrical tube made from mashed rice. Traditionally, it is toasted on a skewer over fire or soaked in broth.
Here, you get to enjoy the steamed rice in a bowl, or through another one of Tsurunoyu’s specialities—deep-fried Akitatomachi rice balls stuffed with burdock, shiitake and dashi. So order up a pot and savour the best of Akita’s produce!