5 Local Foods in Gifu | Hoba Miso, Tsukemono Steak, Keichan-yaki, Takayama Ramen, and Kurikinton
Gifu Prefecture is blessed with abundant nature, including Shirakawa-go and Gero Onsen. There are also many attractive local gourmet foods. Especially, Hida beef, a brand of Japanese beef, is famous throughout the country. Because the Hida region is surrounded by mountains, winters can get so cold that the temperature drops below freezing. This has given rise to warm dishes such as Tsukemono steak and Hoba Miso.
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Use leaves instead of plates! Hoba Miso
“Hoba Miso” is grilled hoba (magnolia leaves) topped with miso paste, condiments such as green onions, mushrooms, and wild vegetables. Because of its large leaves and sterilizing properties, hoba has long been used as a substitute for plates. In winter, when the weather is bitterly cold, people put hoba on the hearth and ate tsukemono(Japanese pickles) and miso while warming them on the hearth. Miso in the Hida region has a strong sweet taste, and because mirin and sake are added, it is characterized by its strong flavor. It is recommended to eat it as an accompaniment to rice or as appetizer for sake.
Pickles become egg dishes! “Tsukemono Steak”
“Tsukemono Steak” is a dish in which tsukemono such as Chinese cabbage and red turnips are stir-fried on a griddle, seasoned with soy sauce or miso paste, and then covered with egg. It is sometimes topped with shichimi (a mixture of red pepper and other spices) or katsuobushi (dried bonito flakes). It is a perfect dish that goes well with alcoholic beverages. In the Hida region, tsukemono were eaten as emergency rations in winter when vegetables were scarce. It is said that tsukemono frozen in the winter cold or old one were wrapped in hoba (magnolia leaves) and heated on the hearth.
Jingisukan is the root of this dish! “Keichan-yaki”
“Keichan-yaki” is said to have been created with reference to Jingisukan. Using special pan for Jingisukan, chicken and vegetables are stir-fried and seasoned with soy sauce or miso. Udon noodles and rice are sometimes added as a garnish. Some people say that the name comes from that pork hormone was called “tonchan”. Today, it can be made with readily available ingredients, but in the days when chicken meat was precious, this dish was often eaten on special occasions such as Obon and New Year’s Day.
Enjoy the simple taste “Takayama Ramen”
“Takayama Ramen” has its roots in 1938 when “Masago Soba” started selling it at a food stall. It is a simple ramen characterized by a soy sauce soup and thin and curly noodles, topped with char siu pork, bamboo shoots, and green onions. The soup is made from vegetables and seafood, and varies depending on the store. In Takayama City, it is called “Chuka Soba” .
Takayama ramen, loved by locals, is sometimes eaten as New Year’s Eve soba.
One of the most popular items at Osechi “Kurikinton”
“Kurikinton” originated in Nakatsugawa City, famous for Kuri(chestnut). It is made from steamed kuri and sugar only. It is characterized by its shape like kuri. Nakatsugawa City prospered as an inn town in the Edo period (1603-1867), and wagashi(Japanese sweets) made from local kuri were offered to travelers at inns there. Today, it is eaten throughout the country as one of the osechi (traditional Japanese New Year foods), but in Gifu Prefecture, it is familiar to local people as an everyday tea cakes and souvenirs.