5 Local foods in Okinawa. | Goya Champuru, Rafute, Okinawa Soba, Taco Rice, and Awamori
Okinawa Prefecture is located at the southernmost tip of Japan and is blessed with rich nature. Since the Ryukyu Kingdom(1429-1879) had active exchanges with China and Southeast Asia, Okinawa’s unique food culture, which incorporates foreign cultures, has been carefully passed down to the next generation. We will introduce Okinawa’s unique foods such as rafute, taco rice, and more!
Table of Contents
A typical Okinawan home-style dish “Goya Chanpuru”
Okinawa Prefecture boasts the largest production of bitter melon, or Goya, in Japan. It contains immunity improving vitamin C, and stimulates the appetite, preventing summer fatigue.
Goya Chanpuru, a stir-fry, is a common dish. Chanpuru means to “jumble” in the Okinawan dialect. It’s made by stir-frying goya, pork, island tofu, and vegetables, commonly eaten daily at home.
Okinawan-style pork stew “Rafute”.
“Rafute” is made by stewing pork tripe in sugar, soy sauce, and Awamori. It’s so soft it’s possible to cut with chopsticks, and the skin’s melted texture is enjoyable. Originally a preserved food, its often served as a hospitality dish.
Pork has been popular in Okinawa since its arrival from the Ming Dynasty about 600 years ago, using pork in many dishes beyond rafute. “Agu pork” is a well-known specialty dish with high marbling and fine sweet meat quality.
No buckwheat flour in it? “Okinawa soba”
Okinawa soba noodles, unlike others, do not contain buckwheat flour. They are made from wheat flour and brackish water used for Chinese noodles. With the noodles chewy and yellowish, Okinawa soba’s broth is made of pork bones, dried bonito flakes, topped with pork cubes, red ginger, and green onions. Another specialty is “Soki-soba,” which is Okinawa soba topped with soki pork ribs.
It originated not in Mexico but in Okinawa! “Taco Rice”
Taco rice was born not in Mexico, but in Kinmu-cho, Okinawa Prefecture. It is said to have started as an adaptation of tacos. It is a hearty dish of rice topped with taco meat, lettuce, tomatoes, cheese, and other ingredients cooked with ground meat in spices, and is popular soul food in Okinawa.
The oldest distilled liquor in Japan “Awamori”
It is said that the preliminary Awamori was created around 1470. The process of fermenting all indica rice into malt, with water and yeast, and distilling in a single stage process has remained mainly unchanged since its creation. The alcohol content ranges from around 20% to over 46%, and tends to have a mild taste. In the Okinawan dialect, it is called “saki”.